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Job For A Cowboy Ruination

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Monday, July 13, 2009 @ 4:01 PM


(Metal Blade)

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Arizona's Job For A Cowboy took a lot of people by surprise with their barnstorming 2007 debut album, Genesis. But after earning raves, scoring the best charting debut (at #54) by a metal band since Slipknot in 1999 and spending 18 months on the road bringing their surging death metal to the masses, expectations are understandably a bit higher for the follow up. And Ruination more than delivers.

If anything, Ruination is tighter, more direct and, therefore, more brutally efficient than Genesis - this despite changing three band members, including both guitarists, since the debut was recorded. Indeed iron-lunged frontman Jonny Davy is the only member left from the original 2003 lineup. But JFAC certainly have not lost a step, and are all business here. Nearly all of Ruination's 10-tracks leap out of the gate at full-throttle and rarely let up - the shuddering title track and grim, relatively epic "March to Global Enslavement" excepting. Powered by Jon Rice's stampeding drumming and Davy's manic, free-association ranting, Ruination has little room for the breakdowns, mellow/clean sections, forced melodies and instrumental jackoffery that have become so commonplace - and tired - in contemporary metal. That's not to say Ruination is bereft of dynamics or dexterity - give a listen to the astonishingly complex riffing and rhythms of "Regurgitated Disinformation" or the headlong "Summon The Hounds." The band just seem to like to keep things super tight, lean and mean. You've actually got to listen hard for solos by the newish guitar tandem of Al Glassman (ex-Despised Icon) and Bobby Thompson - one on "Enslavement" is like 15 seconds long and a trade-off on "Unfurling the Darkened Gospel" isn't much longer. But as fast as they play through the bulk of Ruination, and as quickly tempos keep shifting gear - on, for example, the whipsawing "Lords of Chaos" - they've got their hands full enough as it. Showing off just isn't an option.

If there's real "star" here it's Davy, whose feral vocals alternate from guttural death metal growl to piercing, Randy Blythe-like shriek during his diatribes about nuclear war, propaganda, genocide, torture, oppression and all manner of man's inhumanity to man. His vocal patterns tend to follow a course all their own, sometimes with seemingly little regard for a song's structure, but he manages to weave them into or on top of the music with enough savvy so that it doesn't just sound like a pile of noisy crap.

To that end, JFAC have smartly left much of their earlier death-core tendencies behind them - "To Detonate and Exterminate," however, does conclude with some lurching breakdowns - and continue to hone their death/thrash metal hybrid into something that is both lethal and listenable. Ruination is a vicious, snarling beast of an album from a band that, given their lineup circumstances, could have very easily sophomore slumped. Instead, they have triumphed.

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