Job For A Cowboy are decade long veterans of the extreme metal genre and are likely familiar with the struggle to stay relevant and gain attention in a market that is increasingly awash with fresh talent.
‘The Sun Eater’ shows an ability to demonstrate what a modern death metal album should sound like.
2004 was a chaotic time in the metal universe.
In a year that saw established heavy weight acts like Lamb Of God, Slipknot and Killswitch Engage attempting to stay relevant and push their respective styles further we also had albums from The Acacia Strain, Pig Destroyer and Necrophagist. There was a wealth of genres already extant and many more being pioneered and refined, all bolstered by the emerging freedom of the Internet. MySpace and iTunes made it easier for unsigned bands to get their music out there for countless people to hear. Emerging bands were less beholden to record labels to get recognition and were starting to see the benefits of operating independently.
It was this freedom that led to Job For A Cowboy picking up worldwide attention. It is important to understand where this band came from and to hear what they have released previously, because this album feels like the culmination of everything they have done. The Sun Eater is a very technical death metal album. Its diverse musicality has echoes of The Faceless and the criminally under rated Oregon based band The Odious. The oppressive atmosphere and melody of Opeth occasional shines through in some chord progressions however it remains unashamedly identifiable as a Job For A Cowboy album.
A huge element of this musicality is thanks to the absolutely stunning bass work offered by Nick Schendzielos. So often overlooked in the metal genre, its importance is perfectly demonstrated in the weaving melody and increased weight it lends to Al Glassman and Tony Sannicandro’s astonishing string work. Opening track Eating The Visions Of God is both melodically engaging yet unapologetically heavy as fuck. Flowing straight into Sun Of Nihility which keeps the musicality at the forefront with a haunting intro, perfectly demonstrating the aforementioned bass work before swiftly descending into a maelström precise, razor sharp riffage. You don’t have to wait to long for a fantastic groove to be teased and get your head nodding before they take you off on another passage of amazing technicality. All this talk of musicality and melody might have you thinking this album isn’t a bloodthirsty, brutal maniac. Don’t worry, A Global Shift will very quickly rid you of that foolish notion. It’s rare to hear such venom in a track and this one in particular stands out as a masterpiece of sheer aggression.
Percussion on album like this has to be the very best and Danny Walker is nothing short of incredible on this record. The Stone Cross is a great example of his ability to swap swiftly between flat-out blast beats and neck snapping groove, with a very respectable amount of abuse set aside for fills and cymbal work thrown in. The percussion especially allows this album to flirt between technical mastery and out right spine threatening heaviness.
One of the aspects that makes this album unique among its peers is the extraordinary work of the only original member, Vocalist Jonny Davy. His blend of low-end guttural and high-pitched fry are mixed to truly epic effect, punctuating the intricacies of the music perfectly. Buried Monuments is Jonny Davy at his most demonic as it reaches its conclusion and Encircled By Mirrors features a great mix of that disgusting low end as well as his piercing highs. A Synthetic Sea exemplifies Davy’s overall vocal prowess and also features fellow microphone muncher George Fischer of Cannibal Corpse who is put to excellent use. Davy manages to find exactly the right places to drop his apocalyptic outpourings so that they push the tracks along giving them a fantastic sense of pace and weight. While there isn’t a massive amount of variety to his overall performance, there doesn’t need to be. He is the brutal to the musics melody and its a symbiosis that works incredibly well.
The Sun Eater exudes a confidence found in a band that have mastered their particular sound and have found the right man to capture it. Long time producer Jason Seucof, who first produced Ruination, returned to work his magic on this album and honestly, this is some of the best production I have ever heard. Every single element is captured perfectly, balancing a multitude of interweaving layers to create an album that sounds like an instant classic.
The move away from their deathcore origins to embrace a more technical/melodic sound has given The Sun Eater a fantastic depth,. The flirtation between technicality and brutality is handled very well, although I feel there could have been some more memorable crushing riffs mixed among the musical brilliance.
This is one of the best albums of 2014 as far as I am concerned and I am struggling to find any fault with it!