Blood In The Gears
posted on 9/2010 By:
2004's A Chorus of Obliteration by Tennessee’s The Showdown remains one of my very favorite Christian metal albums. It was a perfect metalcore record, mixing Unearth-styled riffage and Christianity into a rousing, epic album. However, the band's follow-up, Temptation Come My Way was a real stinker as the band turned into a more commercial Southern Rock outfit more in line with He Is Legend and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster -- fine outfits in their own right and style, but for me, the album was a huge letdown. And so I never even bothered to listen to 2008's Back Breaker, despite a few murmurs of it being an improvement over Temptation Come my Way.
So never let it be said that I never give bands a second chance; here is album number four, and out of sheer curiosity, I decided to revisit The Showdown and see if they were anywhere near capturing the brilliance of the debut.
Not quite, but it is a promising improvement.
Basically (and this transition may have occurred on Back Breaker), The Showdown have turned into a Southern-tinged, thrash/groove metal band. They have not quite fully returned to their roots, but it is heavier, more enjoyable and more metal than their sophomore effort. I’m not saying I’m back in love with the band again -- I’m far from it, but I might be willing to let them give me a quick reach-around behind the bike shed.
The vocals are still a mix of gravelly semi-shouts and hoarse singing, but they are at least somewhat metal. Riff-wise, it’s all a sort of Pantera worship (when the band speeds up), Throwdown-ish chunk and groove with a dash of Down and whiskey. It’s likeable and competent, and of course, it’s still littered with a few radio friendly/commercial moments (ballads “Take Me Home” and “Diggin’ My Own Grave”) and choruses (“Blood in the Gears”, “No Escape”), but for the most part, it’s a foot-tapping affair with a few solid riffs here and there. For example, “The Man Named Hell” opens with a clever transition between a beefy revving motorcycle and a sturdy double-bass riff. “Dogma Enthroned” and “Graveyard of Empires” idle with a steady, meaty pace; “The Crooked Path” is a solid thrash number with a climactic Southern swagger to end the song.
As “Diggin’ My Own Grave” ends the album with a somber twang, I can’t help but feel that The Showdown still has a bit of a rock-star attitude, even in light of their slight step back to metal. But at least the band is penning something much more acceptable, even if I know they will never return to the glory of A Chorus of Obliteration.
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