Job For A Cowboy‘s Sun Eater is an album saddled with a lot of baggage that manages to be enjoyable if taken on its’ own merits. The deathcore and grind elements of the past are subordinate to a weirder hybrid of technical death and prog, the hype styles of the moment. That said, it would be unfair to call this transition insincere.
The performances from the band and session drummer Danny Walker (Intronaut) are worthy. Bassist Nick Schendzielos instrument is way up in the mix, in a rather startling manner compared to most metal albums. But again, technical death albums (especially by the band Death themselves) tend to emphasize the leads and bass runs more.
Opener “Eating The Visions Of God” is not the band old school fans of JFAC know, but it is good material. The song spirals like an oncoming storm, clouds brimming with menace. It all ends with some very musical bass tapping and atmospheric textures, leading into the dream crawl that is the dark “Sun Of Nihility”. The thing here that is getting me is it feels kind of like JFAC are trying hard to be several other bands in one, even with the Fallujah The Flesh Prevails-esque woman on the cover art holding the band’s traditional skull aloft. Maybe that was a coincidence, but it looks like the Fallujah album art girl just happens to be visiting the world of Job For A Cowboy with ribbons of proggy Born Of Osiris star energy in tow. Anyway, all that aesthetic business aside, the solos on “…Nihility” scorch and Jonny Davy roars as ever. Still, this stuff sounds more studied than unhinged. The execution is flawless, with “The Stone Cross” a particular technical workout sure to blow eardrums and bleed minds.
You can’t fault the band for wanting to grow.But at times these feel more like a showcase for chops than songs. “Embedded” was so strong because it had technique and a sense of pathological fury wed to a palatable arrangement that was still pretty complex. Just sayin’.
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Never thought I’d see a Cowboy song called “The Celestial Antidote” (sounds more like Yes or Rush or something). But it is on here. JFAC kind of sound like Ephel Duath’s recent material at this point, but with more cash to throw around. That’s not really a bad thing, right? “The Synthetic Sea” is a contrast to Demonocracy‘s assault, but nonetheless impales with insane passages of skillfully rendered death metal. This is a much more cerebral effort than their previous work, less emphasis on brawn and more on the brainy side of the band. The classic metal intro of “Buried Monuments” is sure to spics up any live set, while serious credit has to be given to the whole band for working beyond the ken of what boundaries previously existed on their music. I wish producer Jason Suecof had gone for a dirtier sound in places, but the quality of performances and tones here is alarmingly clear. Everyone on board this ship gets a chance to shine. If anything, you kind of want more restraint on the band.
This is a grower or for people inclined for more critical thinking, which is a job for somebody but for the more testosterone controlled quotient of JFAC fans, maybe a challenge? Either way, it is a very solid record worth owning. Kudos to the band for spreading their wings quite a bit. “Worming Nightfall” ends it all with doom drenched in bile, 6:20 of purposeful persona disembowelment. Davy sounds possessed on this track as the band dirge into the cracks between reality, pushing and looking for that deep bruise to poke at.Still, there are also plenty of times you wish they’d kind of stop and just have a beer with you or something.
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