Sound — 9
So far in The Showdown's career, they haven't released two albums that have the same sound. Some hate their near genre-shifting, and some love it, but I hope all their fans can find something that they love about their latest release, Blood In The Gears. Stylistically, it is really a combination of all their previous efforts which turns out to be one of their heaviest and exciting records to date. Dave Bunton's vocals have matured a lot over their career to become the crushing, gravely pipes that you hear on this record. Long-time guitarist Josh Childers and relative newcomer Patrick Judge (Demon Hunter) form an impressive guitar duo. Jeremiah Scott pulled bass duty as well as a good chunk of production. Lastly, Timothy "Yogi" Watts tracked the drums. Track Listing: 01. Man Named Hell: intro via motorcycle sounds, the steady chug of the motorcycle engine slowly gives way to a chugging southern guitar riff, intense verses, catchy, meaty chorus, dual guitar solo at 2:48. 02. Heavy Lies The Crown: heavy-hitting start, staccato verses, powerful chorus, breakdown/interlude at 2:10. 03. Bring It Down: cliched name but awesome track, heavy on the thrash and fast-paced to boot, awesome chorus, *bass solo* at :50, guitar solo at 1:47. Short but sweet. 04. Take Me Home: drum intro, slower tempo, nice lead work mixed in throughout, very Southern feel, catchy chorus, headbanging interlude at 3:30. 05. Blood In The Gears: straightforward groove metal, solo at :28, very gritty vocals, good riffing throughout the song, especially 3:14 onward. 06. Dogma Enthroned: cool pitch-shifting guitar tone at beginning, very heavy, chorus is a little hard to understand due to the effects, but they give it an epic chamber choir sound. 07. No Escape: another very southern sounding song, good riffing, good chorus, solo at 1:50 follwed by some awesome riffs and chants. 08. The Crooked Path: very chuggy song, good vocal delivery, first verse is my favorite lyric, solo at 1:15, awesome bluesy breakdown at 2:15 with a solo at 2:36. 09. Graveyard Of Empires: fast and heavy, sweet snare hits at beginning of verse, real heavy vocals, awesome chorus, solo at 3:04 followed by awesome breakdown/outro. 10. Digging My Own Grave: drastic change of pace, slow, bluesy, and acoustic driven to start off with a shift to the heavy at 1:49 with a solo and a blast from the guitars, another solo at 3:55, cool riffs throughout the overdriven sections. There are actually several bonus tracks available with different versions of the CD, but I won't go into those too heavily because you might not get them with the specific version you bought. This album has a raw and relentless sound that I just love. I love that southern sound that inhabits every nook and cranny of this band's sound. My only criticisms are that some of the solos are a little similar though that doesn't even detract that much from the music and too many of the songs start off with straight double kick from the bass drum. That aside, kudos to these boys for finding an awesome sound.
Lyrics — 8
The overall lyrical presentation has its ups and downs for me. The concept of the album is a criticism of empires and their rises and falls. Lyrics like those in The Crooked Path and Graveyard of Empires I just love because they challenge the normal sensibilities that people have. Songs like Take Me Home, Bring It Down, and even slightly in Diggin' My Own Grave end up sounding cliched lyrically in the choruses. That being said, nearly every chorus is just catchy or hook-laden that it isn't that hard for me to overlook these. Some people love those sorts of phrases anyways. I felt that when the lyrical material was of the heavy sort, the music followed suit. As for singer's capabilities, David Bunton's vocal delivery is one of my favorites by far so its hard for me to find fault there. Where there was singing, it was well sung, and where there was screaming, it was well screamed.
Overall Impression — 9
If you haven't listened to these guys before, I would have to say that they sound like a more hardcore version of Pantera or Black Label Society. That's where they get most of their influence after all. I love just how crushingly heavy this entire album is. No matter the tempo, each song is just as energetic as the next. I don't really hate anything about it. Some impressive songs on the album, to me, are Heavy Lies The Crown, Bring It Down, and The Crooked Path, but every song has something awesome in it and each one is worth listening to. If it were stolen, I would buy it again in a heartbeat. They are the perfect mix for someone who loves that southern feel, banging their head, and moshing like crazy. Pick the album up and "Git bit" today.