Monday, April 23, 2012

Demonocracy - Job for a Cowboy - 2012

Good things come in small packages, I guess. Job for a Cowboy's Gloom EP was one of my Top Ten favorites from 2011 and some of these best things I've heard since - from Dismemberment's The Condemned and Denied Salvation to Dalis Car - have all been of the Extended Play variety. Demonocracy, Job for a Cowboy's Gloom follow-up, and their third full-length overall, is certainly not too much of a good thing. It's a massive, mediocre, muddled heap of a record that slouches in, settles down and overstays its welcome.

I've given Demonocracy a few spins, figuring I must have been the one who was off during any given listen, and hoped that a fresh perspective, a different time of day, even a different stereo may change the experience. No such luck. This morning, then, I grabbed Gloom off the shelf to reassess and compare the two. Gloom is still a fierce, sharp, little record and each of its four tracks are far superior to any of the cold hash served up on Demonocracy, a record with two lonely high points: the opening thirty seconds to "Nourishment through Bloodshed" and the slightly varied album closer, "Tarnished Gluttony." Only those moments (and, frankly, neither are anything particularly special) distinguish themselves from the uninspired slop that makes up the lion's share of this album, by far the worst collection of material ever put to wax by this band who, until Demonocracy, were always improving with each release.

So what went wrong? Songwriting. Proof that tempo and technicality and lots of moving parts don't mean a damn thing without the ability to string together a structure of riffs, hooks and leads in any fashion that inspires the listener in any original way. There is nothing here that hasn't been done better in every way by their contemporaries in The Black Dahlia Murder. It's all flat and forgettable and it's a fight just to actively listen to the record. Job for a Cowboy's revamped lineup showed incredible audible promise on Gloom but, as writing credits are vague on all their records, one cannot help but wonder if the cogs integral to their compositional success left the machine with the departure of Bobby Thompson and Brent Riggs. Easily the biggest disappointment thus far in 2012.

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