Job for a Cowboy - _Ruination_
(Metal Blade Records, 2009)
by: Jackie Smit (
_Ruination_ needed to be good. In fact, anything less than an effort capable of pile-driving virtually the entire death metal genre into submission was not going to suffice -- at least as far as shutting up Job for a Cowboy's chorus-line of detractors was concerned. This contingent had taken their cue from the band's _Doom_ EP and subsequent MySpace-driven success and had opted to practically tar and feather the Arizona quintet for being deathcore, and moreover a flash in the pan; a group of young bucks who hadn't done nearly enough to earn the considerable plaudits they were receiving.Of course, had these ignoramuses paid any attention to Job for a Cowboy's debut, 2007's _Genesis_, they would have discovered a thoroughly serviceable death metal effort. True, it delved into stock-standard genre cliché more often than it should have, but it dripped levels of extremity that rendered its staggering sell-through rate virtually inexplicable. By contrast, _Ruination_ more than justifies the hype. There are tell-tale signs across every one of the album's ten tracks that the group were unanimously mindful that their credibility was hanging by the thinnest of threads; each performance simmers with brazen conviction, empowered by a spectacular production effort that allows each instrument room to breathe, whilst remaining wholly organic. Not for these boys the studio drum tinkering and morbidly obese guitar processing that seems to be the Achilles heel of some many of their peers.The real difference-maker though -- the crown jewel in _Ruination_'s achievement -- is just how different each song sounds. One listen is enough to tattoo the main riffs to the likes of "Regurgitated Deformation" and "Summon the Hounds" across every crevice of your subconscious, yet repeat inspection is required to truly appreciate their subtler dynamics. Not even the faintest whiff of anything "core"-related rears its head; this is American death metal in the tradition of the masters -- Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Deicide and Cannibal Corpse -- and it's one of the finest efforts to fly extreme music's flag this year.
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