The evolution of a band is an interesting thing. Some bands barely evolve, like AC/DC. Some take leaps and bounds from album to album, like The Contortionist. Others, it’s a smoother more gradual process. Take Job for a Cowboy for instance. Formed in Glendale, Arizona in 2003, their first incarnation was more of a deathcore sound. The 2005 EP “Doom” and 2007 album “Genesis” were the result. Each sequential offering afterwards, “Ruination,” the “Gloom” EP, and “Demonocracy,” brought more roster changes, more death, and less core in the band’s sound. Job for a Cowboy’s latest, “Sun Eater,” released November 11, 2014 on Metal Blade Records, continues to push the band’s sound forward, but maybe not in the direction you would expect.
From the opening riff of “Sun Eater,” you know this is going to be a different record for JFAC. One big reason is the prominent inclusion of Nick Schendzielo‘s bass in the mix. Not that we couldn’t hear him before, but his skills are definitely on display throughout the album. Another obvious difference is the slower, groovier, doomier approach on opening tune ‘Eating the Visions of God.’ Even in the early days, JFAC never slowed down this much. The backing off of the gas adds depth and space to the already dark and heavy tune. ‘Sun of Nihility’ has even more groovy doom flavor. Session drummer Danny Walker flexes his muscles all over this record, but this is the first song where to realize what he’s bringing to the party.
‘The Stone Cross,’ ‘The Synthetic Sea,’ and ‘A Global Shift’ each progressively get back to the old JFAC speed we are used to, but they do not lose the groove that was established in the beginning. Guitarist Al Glassman doles out riff after riff on this record. The off-kilter offering he puts forth on the proggy death ‘The Celestial Antidote’ is a great example. Sole founding member Jonny Davy has really come in to his own as a vocalist over the years. The dark and brooding ‘Encircled by Mirrors’ demonstrates the variations of delivery he commands. Guitarist Tony Sannicaderio throws out some blistering leads across the board on the album. The solo on the other prog infused jam, ‘Buried Monuments,’ flies out of the song. “Sun Eater” ends as it began. The slow doomy beast ‘Worming Nightfall’ grinds the album to a halt, dragging the bodies of JFAC naysayers behind it.
If you wrote off Job for a Cowboy as just another deathcore band back in the day, this record will change your mind. I do not think the band’s evolution has been slow and deliberate, or quick and haphazard. It seems like over the last few albums and musician changes, their songs have picked up bits and pieces of everyone that has touched them, so they are a sum of all their parts. This is the second album that the new four core members have done together, so maybe the combination was finally just right. Either way, I like the new path they are on, and I hope they continue to evolve.