Dear JOB FOR A COWBOY,
I am writing this review for the latest album, “Ruination” in the form of an apology letter. Yes, I know it might seem silly now, but I think it’s something that I have to do. You see, I was a doubter. I was a naysayer. Most importantly, I was wrong. When the “Doom” EP was released, I thought that the band was another flash in the pan Deathcore act that would be a wash up with 5 years. The debut album, “Genesis” showed some positive direction choices but was far too flawed for me to fully consider it any kind of redemption.
They I heard “Ruination”.
For me, this is JOB FOR A COWBOY’s defining moment. This album is the moment when the band has finally put aside all of their influences, their ‘trying so hard moments’, and their trendy tendencies and bloomed into the full on Death Metal band that they are. Of course, they aren’t going to be considered classics any time soon by the general Metal community, but “Ruination” shows significant promise. The band continues to borderline with a lot of those other modern Death Metal acts, using a mix and production that will probably be criticized by most Death fans (I happen to think that for the most part the production is sick, with its crunchy as sin guitar tones and clear precise sounds – as for the mix…we’ll get to that) and the band still continues to write in a style that definitely is reminiscent of modern tendencies, but the majority of this album is pure Death Metal just in a modern form. So some of the older fans may not be able to jump the shark quite yet and get into “Ruination”.
The element that I was the most intrigued with on “Ruination” was the sheer cohesiveness of the album. Granted, “Genesis” was a concept record, but “Ruination” just had this feeling of stark intensity and force that I haven’t heard from the band before. At first, I thought that the band was being rather repetitive as they tended to be earlier in their career, but the band adds a bit more of a technical side to the music for this release with tons of very cool drum fills (thanks to new drummer Jon Rice) and some new more impressive guitar licks. This allows the album a bit more time for enjoyment on repeated spins and a new found appreciation for what the band does. It also helps when the band takes out a majority of the break downs that tended to inadvertently mess with the energy of the music.
If I had a few issues with “Ruination” it mostly has to do with the production and mixing. Although it might tend to feel a bit repetitive for some, the consistency, I believe, helps the overall presentation of the album and the one song that tends to stick out as different, the album closer “Ruination”, is a mid tempo beast to end the album. Even with its more consistent approach to presentation, there are parts of the sound mixing that pull away from the experience. Firstly, the guitars are really pushed back. The riffs and the razor leads tend to be lost in the flurry of Death Metal intensity. The guitars might be better but one really has to work to tease out a lot of the nuances that make “Ruination” a good album. To go with the pulled back guitars is the ridiculously loud and upfront drums and vocals. Luckily, with new drummer Rice and a solid roaring performance from vocalist Davy, this isn’t as big of an issue as it could have been, but it is rather distracting. It’s these two things that tend to make the mix a bit of a hassle for me.
On the whole, “Ruination” is definitely one of the biggest (positive) surprises of 2009. JOB FOR A COWBOY have really kicked it in the ass and flourished into a full Death Metal band now and are showing that they have the talent and performances to earn their status. Whether it’s the rather interesting lyrical approach, the new found and tighter band chemistry, or the overall new consistency of writing, “Ruination” is quite the impressive Death Metal release.
So I apologize to JOB FOR A COWBOY for doubting that the band would eventually blossom into the Death Metal act that they are today. Two releases ago I already had them written off, but, alas, I was wrong and “Ruination” is verification to that fact. This is not only a good album for the band but a damn good album overall.
Songs to check out: “Ruination”, “Summon The Hounds”, “Lord Of Chaos”.
(Online August 2, 2009)