A Crooked Path
What do you get when you take Southern rock, metal-core, Biblical themes and a blue-collar attitude, and let them stew in Tennessee for a couple of years? The Showdown. This quintet has come a long way since their days of emulating Amon Amarth and Avenged Sevenfold, and with the release of their newest record Blood In The Gears, it sounds like they don’t have to look much further to find themselves.
Stylistically, Blood In The Gears is an odd duck. Songs like “The Man Named Hell” and the title track feature the band’s energetic, heavy take on the Southern rock/metal of old (think extreme Allman Brothers), while tracks like “Bring It Down,” “Dogma Enthroned,” and “The Crooked Path” owe more to the speed and thrash musings of Testament. Meanwhile, “Graveyard Of Empires” is squarely rooted in the Lamb Of God school of new American metal. But strangest of all are “Take Me Home,” and especially “Diggin’ My Own Grave,” two radio-friendly hard rock tunes that may very well have come from another record entirely.
Now, don’t misunderstand: Blood In The Gears is a fine record. The songs are well written, the instrumentals are all well played, and vocalist David Bunton is amazingly versatile, shifting effortlessly between clean melodies and violent thrash bellows. The drums are tight, the guitars are crunchy and loud, and overall the album is polished and well produced. It’s a fine record, indeed. However, more accurately, Blood in the Gears sounds almost like a compilation record, a “best of” from another band’s 20-plus years of performing, during which time they had grown out of their death metal ways into a more mainstream hard rock sound. Put simply, it makes for an atypical listening experience.
If cohesion of style is not a stumbling block for you, or you enjoy a band that refuses to pigeonhole itself, Blood In The Gears is not an album to overlook. With a little more focus, The Showdown could easily become a leader in the metal scene. It’s just a question of which scene.