Sound — 7
Back in 2005, somebody thought it would be a good idea to put a metal song over a few Spongebob Squarepants clips and post it to YouTube. And thus, Job For A Cowboy was propelled into international fame. Their debut "Doom" EP became a staple in the deathcore community (some would argue that JFAC helped shaped deathcore into what it is today), and countless clone bands popped up all over the internet, even stealing the same scratchy-logo font for their own band logos. All of them emulated, but failed to recreate, what Job For A Cowboy had achieved. While the cookie cutter bands were busy writing breakdowns and pig squeals, Job For A Cowboy had already started moving on. With lineup changes came stylistic changes, and the band quickly became about reinventing themselves more than reinventing the proverbial wheel of deathcore. Over the years they've been drifting further away from the cliched scene they've played such a vital hand in and have been constantly demolishing and rebuilding their sound towards a more legitimate attempt at death metal. Gloom is the result of years worth of trials, errors, and experimentation. "Gloom" builds upon that pseudo-tech death sound that was so prominent on "Ruination", but in a different way. Now, I'll be honest with you. "Ruination" bored me for the most part, aside from "Regurgitated Disinformation", which is probably the best song in their catalog (in my opinion). While there isn't an equally awesome track on this EP, the four tracks on Gloom are consistently better than all of "Ruination" and "Genesis" combined. Fans of "Doom", however, may have a tough time swallowing the pill that is the new JFAC.
Job For A Cowboy are becoming increasingly technical with the music they write. On "Misery Reformatory", there's enough start/stop action in the riffs to give any headbanger a good case of whiplash, or at least, a very sore neck. The solos on this EP shred quicker than ever before, reaching dizzying speeds ("Plastic Idols" being a perfect example). As for the ever-so-infamous breakdowns, there aren't nearly as many as you'd expect from the fathers of modern deathcore. During the last half of "Execution Parade", there was an epic lead-in that any other band would have used as a transition into a breakdown. If I was a mosh hero, it would have been time for a bedroom throwdown. But I'm not a mosh hero, bedroom throwdowns are lame, and there was no breakdown. Comparing "Doom" and "Gloom", the latter is miles ahead in terms of technicality and creativity. Unfortunately, the same can't really be said for originality. Back in 2005, "Doom" was hard to describe, because at the time, there wasn't much in the way of similar bands out there to compare it to. For better or worse, that's changed. When I heard the first track on the EP, I thought I was listening to some odd new track from The Black Dahlia Murder. That's essentially what new Job For A Cowboy sounds like; "Ruination" with a big helping of Black Dahlia thrown in. The fact that Jason Suecof (the man who produced TBDM's "Nocturnal") handled production duties on "Gloom" does nothing to remedy this, but I'll give him credit, it sounds great. The rhythm section really shines through, even the bass (which is sometimes mixed so unjustly low in metal music).
Lyrics — 8
As much as Job For A Cowboy's older material failed to hold my attention, I have always been consistently impressed with Jonny Davy's vocal delivery. The man sounds like a behemoth, and his voice has always been a selling point for this band. Davy outshines his peers in most cases; his lows are menacing and his highs cut through your eardrums like a chainsaw. Regardless of what Jonny Davy sounds like, it's not his voice but his actual delivery which always astounds me. When he's not drawing out his growls in long demonic howls, he's spitting verses at machine gun speeds. The fact that he is able to growl at those speeds and still be able to keep words from slurring together never fails to amaze me. You can say that you don't like him, sure, but you can't say he doesn't have skill. It's just a shame that you can't understand a word coming out of his mouth.
Overall Impression — 7
I've always been a big TBDM fan, so can't say that Job For A Cowboy sounding a bit like them is entirely bad. Of course, people will inevitably disagree on both them sounding like Black Dahlia and this not being a bad thing. It can be a bit tedious to feel like you've heard something before, though. Especially when it's one formerly notoriously influential band beginning to sound like another notoriously influential band. At the end of the day, this EP has its ups and downs. There are moments where you can really see how much Job For A Cowboy have matured and learned since they began wreaking havoc in the metal world, but there are also moments where you can tell that they still need to put the final pieces of the map together to figure out where they're trying to go. And even though the band's musicianship has improved, some of the songs still end up losing my attention. "Execution Parade" and "Plastic Idols" are ultimately forgettable. That takes out half of the tracks, making the EP itself half forgettable.
Nonetheless, I am comfortable saying that the other two songs are fairly solid, and I actually do enjoy them. It's safe to say that JFAC have completely washed their hands clean of who they used to be and are definitely taking steps in the right direction. Now all they have to do is be a little more consistent in their songwriting. The old JFAC sound is dead now, the transformation from a deathcore band to a death metal band is without a doubt complete. Fitting that their rebirth is marked with an EP the same way their entry into the metal world was. If "Signature Of Starving Power" is anything to go by, I may end up giving the next JFAC album a proper listen.