Job For A Cowboy managed to become one of my favorite bands at the time of their debut release, Doom. It was one of the more amazing albums of 2005, and it didn’t take more than one spin for me to fall in love with the modern deathcore sound. When they released Genesis, which was pretty much a full-on brutal death metal album, I wasn’t as taken back as some of the other fans that had latched on to the moshiness of Doom, as the album still offered plenty. Dare I say that I actually prefer some songs from Genesis to the entirety of Doom? Ruination, the newest release from the Glendale five-piece, is hitting stores today, and I am already bracing myself for the proverbial and much-deserved wave of shit that is sure to come from the deathcore community.
If that last sentence hasn’t ruined your complete and utter lack of surprise, Ruination carries Job For A Cowboy even further into the straight-up death metal genre. It’s not as if they’ve become a different band altogether, it’s just that there’s not a lot of the JFAC that everyone knows and loves from Doom left here. Depending on who you are, this may or may not be bad news. I personally have taken a moderate liking to the new album, but it wasn’t love at first site like it was in the beginning, or even as it was with Genesis. Ruination had to earn my respect, and unlike the two albums prior, it didn’t happen on the first listen. Not only that, but like most semi-mediocre death metal albums, there are a handful of good tracks accompanied by a slew of songs that have no redeeming quality except for the skill of the musicians.
A lot of my scorn is due to the somewhat lackluster riff-age that opened the album up. Both “Butchering The Enlightened” and “Constitutional Masturbation” prove to be relatively useless, as they are pretty much seven minutes consisting of little more than constant blast beats and relatively forgettable guitars. Entering “Ruination” as a skeptic and being greeted by this garbage was definitely detrimental to my first impression. Once “Lords Of Chaos” kicked in, however, it was a different story altogether. After hearing it a few times, I can safely say that Job For A Cowboy hasn’t completely lost their writing skill. Alternating guitars and complex change-ups make up the verse structure of track three, much like “Reduced To Mere Filth” off of Genesis, and that’s the Job For A Cowboy that I love most.
With that said, the remainder of the album varies: a lot of it is awesome, technical, and masterfully executed, and the rest is just technical and uninteresting. Sure, there’s no denying that the drummer can play his instrument better than most in the metal scene, and the guitar riffs are not constructed with the one-two formula that a lot of bands who rely on their drummers administer during the writing process. At the same time, musical enjoyment doesn’t come from superb technique alone; there needs to be some catchiness to the song in order to make it listen-able, and only a few of the songs on Ruination match that description. I hate to say it, but as talented as Job For A Cowboy’s members are, they don’t write the most interesting death metal songs in the world, especially with this second full-length effort. I tend to think that they would have found a much more forgiving fan base in the deathcore world.
The vocals are the same as before, sans pig squealing, and this is definitely a welcome feature of Ruination. Jonny Davy is definitely a top-notch death metal vocalist, and while the music may have faltered a bit, it’s nice to see that the wind pipes of JFAC are still the cream of the crop. While I’m at it, I might as well give some more credit where credit is due. The title track is a great song, and it’s somewhat reminiscent of “The Divine Falsehood”, the slower song off of Genesis. The other song that I truly loved is “Summon The Hounds”, which contains a lot of amazingly well-written discordant guitar arrangements and some of my favorite bridge transitions on the entire album. Combined with “Lords Of Chaos”, these are the only three songs I felt were really worth mentioning.
Ruination is hardly a horrible album, and Job For A Cowboy is still a very talented band. They have back peddled a bit, however, and as a music critic, I have an obligation to call it as I see it. The album may not be a total bust, but for any pre-existing JFAC fan, it will most likely be a disappointment. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Check out some of the new songs on MySpace or Last.fm and make up your own mind.
01. Butchering The Enlightened
02. Constitutional Masturbation
03. Lords Of Chaos
04. March To Global Enslavement
05. Psychological Immorality
06. Regurgitated Disinformation
08. Summon The Hounds
09. To Detonate And Exterminate
10. Unfurling A Darkened Gospel