The year is 2006. Myspace is still the coolest thing on the block. Swooped haircuts, super tight pants and shirts akin to something your sister probably wears flood the land. Deathcore is on the rise. A young Arizonian band had just signed with Metal Blade Records, and were riding off the hype from their first release, an EP entitled Doom. However, the band quickly abandoned their Deathcore roots with their first two studio albums, and their last album, Demonocracy, is about as far removed from their heritage as one could imagine. However, this has led to an association crisis: the Job For A Cowboy of 2014 has always been labeled as the Job For A Cowboy from 2006. This had led to many fans questioning their validity as a true act of metal, and some had even written them off all together. On November 11th, 2014, the band will release their newest album, Sun Eater, and almost immediately people will begin to realize that not only is this a completely different sound, it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.
Upon an initial listening of the album, jaws will hit the floor. The soaring guitars, drawn out over some incredibly well-placed bass lines, will enthrall the listener in an almost hypnotic sense. The album’s two opening tracks sound nothing like the band of the past. Gone are the crushing, blistering opening tracks everyone is accustomed to hearing, or even wanting, and in its place are two tracks that serve no other role but to create a mood. The band slows it down to paint a more complete picture, setting up the rest of the album in the progress. These songs have a statement to make: they’re here, they’re heavy, and if it isn’t fast then too damn bad. While there are some of the great fast and heavy songs, the band chose to focus more on atmosphere and on creating an experience rather than playing a song at 220 BPM with super heavy riffs played on the lowest string with a half-time solo in the middle. The album does pick up speed, however, and while the band does this extremely well, it is their slower pieces that really shine. It’s not only a breath of fresh air, but it shows that, as musicians, they’ve grown exponentially.
On the subject of musicianship, Danny Walker absolutely kills it on this record. Barring schedule restrictions, he’ll likely tour with the group next Spring, at least for the time being. He won’t be “stolen” from Intronaut, but rather utilized to his greatest potential; Danny Walker is meant to play this stuff. It was not only written with him in mind, but some of the fills and patterns he does really lend itself to the overall quality of each song on the album. Also in the rhythm section is bassist Nick Schendzielos, who makes his fretted Warwick bass sound like a fretless. His instrument is extremely prevalent on this album, like early 1980s Maiden if they had a modern mix and a more full sound. It cuts through like something out of a horror film, unrelenting until the album comes to a close. It’s one of the best parts of the album, especially considering nods to bands like Pestilence, Intronaut, and Obscura with some of the bass licks that he uses. Suecof absolutely killed the tones on this album, and it’s going to go down as one of his best works.
The band’s only remaining challenge was to bring their music to life. The band are no longer looking to hide from their Deathcore days; in fact, they embrace it. There are some elements of their early stuff in here, but overall the album is an evolutionary tale of a bunch of people, past and present, who have helped shape this band into the progressive death metal powerhouse it is. Yes, progressive death metal. This album is a Frankenstein in terms of influences, with touches of Gorguts, Gojira, Obscura, and even some flourishes of Spawn Of Possession. This album perfectly encapsulates what a band should do in the span of their career: find a sound, and then discover fun new ways to make it interesting time and time again. Demonocracy was, at the time, the pinnacle of the band’s success, but now that Sun Eater is upon us, a new limit of greatness has been created, and it’s higher than anything before it.
Short hair, regular clothes, and smiles adorn the faces of the Job For A Cowboy camp. They know that what they have just given us is something that will, hopefully, be heralded as the band’s best work to date. It will be able to turn fans of old into fans of the new. It will be able to bring in legions of fans that had given up on the band, as well as fans that had never previously heard them. The overarching theme of the record is perseverance. You take a band, mold it into what you want, and write what you want. The band wrote the album that they wanted to write, and it turned out to be their best work to date. It’s not only an example of triumph, but also an example for the rest of the metal community. It shows us all that the band want nothing more than total domination, and with this new record, they’re on the brink of it.
Job For A Cowboy’s Sun Eater gets…