Job For A Cowboy – Demonocracy (2012)

Posted: April 10, 2012 in Music

Staying relevant in today’s modern metal scene is no small task. Staying relevant while juggling a band lineup over and over (and over) again is even more difficult. THese are the challenges that have faced Glendale, Arizona’s pride and joy Job For A Cowboy. Since their inception in 2003, the band has changed musicians more times than Lady Gaga has changed hairstyles, which might explain the fact that they have only released two albums (as well as two EPs) over that period of time.

Those albums, though, were absolute killers – so it’s no surprise that the metal community is ready to flash their horns again with the release of Demonocracy. Front man Jonny Davy is the last man standing from the original lineup, but with what he calls a “steady” lineup behind him, the band is poised to reignite the torch they held high as one of metal’s brightest “new” bands five years ago.

I first heard the album a week or so ago, but instead of giving it the “knee-jerk” reaction, I wanted to listen this one a few times – or fifty – before giving it the proper write up. Why?

Two reasons. First, I really like this band. I’ve driven countless miles to see them on several occasions and have bought every damn album, EP, t-shirt and belt buckle. They’ve earned my respect as one of the “better” metal bands going – and that respect forced my hand at giving the review all I could.

The second, and more important, reason is that it feels to me like this is “do or die” time for the band. Metal fans are notoriously picky and impatient – they don’t like changes and they don’t like waiting. Job For A Cowboy are guilty of both to a certain extent. Three albums in six years isn’t an abnormal schedule for most bands, but the hype the band created with their first full-length Genesis had fans salivating for more – and quick. Ruination fed the appetite in 2009, but since then only a less-than-stellar EP has made its way to the public, and frankly – the natives are restless.

Demonocracy needed to be awesome. It needed to be heavy. It needed to prove that – despite the revolving door of guitarists and drummers – the band could put out a cohesive, brutal album. It needed to be Job For A Cowboy

And it is. In every fucking measure.

What we have with this album is possibly the most brutal, most ingenious effort to date from Davy and company. When they first hit the scene, they were trendsetters in the way they delivered their unique style of death metal – yet here they are setting a new trend with less of the bad and more of the good. Gone are the pig squeals, as is most of the deathcore influence that permeated their earlier efforts. What we have now – in the band’s current state – is a heavier, more technical approach to death metal that knocks the wind out of you and kicks you while your down.

A nice addition this time around is the fact that Demonocracy hints at the melodic side from time to time, which mixed in with all the brutal chaos makes the record sound tighter, more polished, and as accessible as anything the band has ever recorded.

For me, the first two albums – in all their glory – felt like the band was relentlessly beating the shit out of me. Demonocracy has a slightly different vibe in that I felt like I was invited along to do the ass kicking with them. And that, folks, is what makes it so great.

It’s not the kind of album that one reviews track-by-track. What am I going to write about? All of the songs have the same powerful elements and same vocal stylings – but don’t let that fool you into thinking the record is one monotonous bore (that type of critique would be more appropriate for Meshuggah’s latest – Koloss). Instead, the album is the perfect cocktail of technical precision and straight-forward death metal supremacy. Each track tugs at you a little differently, but the bruises left are equally horrific.

The “newcomers” to the band – Tony Sannicandro on guitars/backing screams and Nick Schendzielos (ex-Cephalic Carnage) on bass – add an extra punch that is noticeable on almost every track. Add that to the enraged drumming of Jon Rice and fretwork of “longtime” (since 2008) guitarist Al Glassman, and the quintet sound as in tune with eachother as JFAC ever has.

Standout tracks? You could write all the song titles on little pieces of paper and draw them from a hat and would be just fine, but for me there were a few that stood a little higher than the rest.

The opener, “Children of Deceit” was a true technical showcase. The guitars and drums had such an odd syncopation that it was infectious. “Imperium Wolves” caught my attention with its amazing guitar fills and sledgehammer bass parts, and “Tongueless and Bound” is not only the coolest track title on the disc, but also has the most interesting tornado of tempo shift the album offers.

No track more exemplifies the progression of JFAC than “The Deity Misconception.” The track is slathered with modern metal excellence, from the Randall Blythe-esque opening growl to the demonic high and low vocals. It’s as close as the band has come to having “that” song – the one that everyone knows as JFAC.

And that’s the only minimal complaint I have with Demonocracy. The band has such a signature style that it can’t seem to wrap itself around that ONE song that will stick with them forever. All these songs are great, but none are that epic definition the band is still searching for. Maybe we will forever be subject to the whole being a greater beast than all of it’s parts – but for commercial (yes, it’s necessary these days) success, the band has to come up with it’s very own “Master of Puppets” to truly break through the ranks. It’s not here, but based on the progression the band is experiencing with this album, it can’t be too far off. Until then, Demonocracy will at least get the band back to relevancy – and hints at something far greater that seems to be in the not-so-distant future. Which gets us back to where we were before this album was released.

Waiting. But this time we have nine ferocious tracks to hold us over. Hopefully we won’t be salivating again for long…

8/10

Tracklist:
01 – Children Of Deceit
02 – Nourishment Through Bloodshed
03 – Imperium Wolves
04 – Tongueless And Bound
05 – Black Discharge
06 – The Manipulation Stream
07 – The Deity Misconception
08 – Fearmonger
09 – Tarnished Gluttony

Buy at Amazon

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