Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gloom - Job for a Cowboy - 2011

Gloom - EPHow many riffs can you pack into fifteen minutes? About 6,004 if you're listening to Job for a Cowboy's magnificent Gloom EP. Mercilessly fast, heavy and hooky, Gloom pummels the listener with the absolute best Job for a Cowboy has offered over their brief but increasingly impressive career. I am a big fan of the EP format and Gloom is the epitome of the effectiveness of the mini-album, condensing the essence of Job for a Cowboy into an ultra-concentrated shot of raw, brutal power. Now Haunting the Chapel has a companion on my shelves to challenge even the finest full-length albums.

I have always enjoyed Job for a Cowboy but never loved them. Genesis was a great record and Ruination very, very good but they never quite clicked for me until now. Death Metal defined, Gloom settles comfortably in the throne as kings of the genre and discards the deathcore sub-label and its trappings. Johnny Davy's vocals retain their impressive range and distinctive identity. The lyric is generally cognizable and, reading along with the booklet, impressive (even if standard subject matter for the genre). Jon Rice's militant drumming is as perfect as ever and guitars, courtesy Al Glassman and Bobby Thompson replacement Tony Sannicandro, are insane, particularly the solos. Cephalic Carnage's Nick Schendzielos debuts on bass and I am impressed at how deftly he propels much of Gloom. The records itself is perfect and filler-free. It stretches out and explores the range of death metal yet remains taut and aggressive. It never lingers, never bores yet never exceeds its bounds simply for the sake of sonic exploration. Gloom strikes a perfect balance between interesting and familiar, well-defined yet dangerous.

I found it noteworthy that production on Gloom was handled by Jason Suecof. Not a name that immediately jumps at me but one I recognized not only from JFAC's own Ruination but also from The Black Dahlia Murder's Deflorate (an album I came to downright adore after falling for Ritual in my backwards introduction to the band) and, despite my feelings for them lately, Trivium's Ascendancy. Suecof achieves a clarity that remains organic and never feels over-polished.

Every track on Gloom is a winner. My only worry is that Job for a Cowboy won't have enough of the same magic in reserve to fill their upcoming full-length. I really, really look forward to finding out if that is the case.

Gloom is limited to 2,500 physical CD copies which have appeared intermittently sold-out and then restocked online. Check Metal Blade's shop for a hard copy or go online to download at a bargain price from iTunes or Or go the route I did, order the CD and then buy the download while you're waiting for it to arrive. It's that good.

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