I remember seeing Job for a Cowboy for the first time at the 2009 Mayhem Festival and being blown away by the energy that the crowd had during their performance. I went ahead and got their two albums and their widely-known Doom EP. About a year or so later I saw them again with Whitechapel, Cattle Decapitation, and Revocation (I was mainly there for Cattle Decap.). Since I first saw them, they seem to be the Morbid Angel of the younger crowd (one of the most popular death metal bands amongst the generation that I’m a part of). I’ve always enjoyed their music and would never mind seeing them live as long as there were at least two other really good bands at the same show. But I’ve never figured out what it is about Job for a Cowboy that almost all of my metalhead friends seem to be crazy about! When I listen to these guys, all I see is an average death metal band; nothing that special at all. But for those of you that are curious about seeing an in-depth description on this particular debut, read on.
For those of you audiophiles, this album won’t be an issue for you at all. There’s tons of bass, everything’s evened out, the guitars have an ultra-clean distortion, and the drums are just at the right volume where they are easily heard aren’t overpowering. My standards for musicianship and skill have gone up dramatically over the five years that I’ve been listening to extreme metal (I first started on heavy metal with Led Zeppelin when I was in third grade). I first heard these guys two years after I first started REALLY getting into death metal, and I was one of those kids that thought that any band that could play loud, fast, and aggressive music was awesome. But now that I’ve become a lot more knowlegable about the genre and have had much more experience listening to hundreds of different metal artists, I’ve become much more critical and more hesitant to give a specific metal musician the certificate of awesomeness.
Probably the thing about Job For a Cowboy that repels me the most is their pair of guitarists. The reason why is because they have next to no originality, almost no creativity, and their solos are weak. They have the skills required to pull off good trembolo picking and change chords at a reasonable speed, but they aren’t good guitarists. With NEWER death metal bands that have acclaimed this much fame, I would expect them to have something about them that is….specieal; something that sets them apart from the rest of the crowd. But now I just realized something; maybe they’re just bringing back the traditional death metal sound. Because if you look at the activity of the traditional death metal scene during the turn of the century, it wasn’t nearly as big as it was during the 1990s. Of course, that’s changed now with the explosion of death metal (especially deathcore and technical death) bands that have been dominating the metalhead community. But maybe Job for a Cowboy saw this lack in traditional death metal activity as an opportunity to play PURE death metal and get away with it without being called “poseurs” and “uninventive”. Although I don’t particularly love Job for a Cowboy, I do credit them for helping define 21st century death metal.
The vocalist isn’t that bad at all. He has powerful Corpsegrinder-sounding growls and can belt out high-pitched screams. He can also growl in really complex and technical patterns. When I listen to Bearing the Serpent’s Lamb (my favorite song off this record, the first thing that speaks out to me is the vocalist’s growl. But then again, he’s not SUPER impressive, he just sticks out from the rest of the band. This album is pretty average and if you’re a teenage metalhead like me, you’ve probably heard of these guys before, but if you haven’t I would actually recommend that you check them out because they might be your thing. But I’m going to warn you that Job for a Cowboy is not anything special. I would give this album 10/20.