Sound — 8
Although still making a name for itself in the metal/rock world, The Showdown is a band that never seems to be afraid of jumping all over the map stylistically. From one of the album to the next, the Tennessee natives have been dabbling in everything from metalcore to a Southern-fried rock sound. For its fourth full-length record Blood in the Gears, The Showdown have opted for a more aggressive sound than ever before. The one characteristic that ties all of the band's material over the past six years, however, is the continuously impressive lead guitar work from Josh Childers. An in-your-face attitude is apparent from the get-go, with the opener A Man Named Hell fading in with gritty riffage directly following the sound of a motorcycle and/or hot rod revving up. The Southern sound is all but gone, with pinch harmonics and a Pantera-like quality reigning supreme. Heavy Lies The Crown is even more aggressive, with drummer Isaac Harris delivering an onslaught of double bass pedal and David Buton growling with the best of them. Fast, gain-driven, chugging power chords are a familiar theme on the album, but thankfully Childers has the know-how to add in interesting lead flourishes. The title track is a fairly straightforward metal track at its core, but it's the lead fills that give it identity. While Childers rarely disappoints on any track, his standout moments arrive in the Jake E. Lee-like intro of No Escape and the high-speed strumming action on the hidden track Untitled. The two slower tracks Take Me Home and Diggin' My Own Grave have their moments, with the latter being the official closing number thus, ending in a big, grand finish. That being said, it's Take Me Home that will satiate the fans who long for the Temptation Come My Way sound. It could be considered Southern rock with a twist, given that plenty of pinch harmonics make appearances along with classic blues licks.
Lyrics — 7
The Showdown has made a name for itself within the Christian rock community, but Blood in the Gears certainly doesn't refer to that background. In fact, the title track alone seems to hint at a more brute-force side of the band with lines like, The gun and the tongue do the job just the same; And under the knife you will cry my name; Impale, the reaper prevails. The ballads (or mellower tracks, if you will) tend to be more personal and reflective, but on the whole Blood in the Gears tends to be a bit more militant both musically and lyrically.
Overall Impression — 8
For guitar enthusiasts, there is plenty to get excited about on The Showdown's latest record. The band always dedicates a good chunk of the arrangement to Childers' riff work, although a good deal of the latest material's main melodies revolve around chugging rhythms. It should be noted that the entire album was recorded at bassist Jeremiah Scott's home studio, and the resulting product is impressive audio-wise. The Showdown seem to be engrossed in the metalcore world (at least for the time being), and although it's a timely and appropriate move for the current metal scene, it's obvious they have the capability of branching out into something a bit more unique on future albums.