Sound — 7
Tennessee band The Showdown's sophomore release should intrigue a low of new listeners to its grooving metal sound thanks to the inspired work of guitarists Travis Bailey and Josh Childers. Temptation Come My Way absolutely shines in the intros, which feature the guitarists laying out riffs that would make some of the greats proud. But it's in the verses that the band tends to get stuck in the same place much of the time. This is not to say that the band does not have some creative ideas along the way. Given a bit more time, it's likely that The Showdown could grow into a solid rock outfit that could delivery some metal anthems (with a bluesy touch) in time. The first track Fanatics And Whores begins with a whole lot of promise, complete with pinch harmonics that could easily be mistaken for Zakk Wylde's work. That's a very good thing in itself. But when it gets down to the base songwriting, the track loses its punch fairly quickly. The verse sticks with a pretty monotonous rhythm and vocalist David Bunton's delivery is just not gritty enough most of the time. At times, he does give a big roar, and hearing more of that kind of vocal really would have added the right kind of aggression to match the fantastic shredding. Almost every track has its cool moments, and it's refreshing to hear a band boast that almost half of it's tracks contains cowbell. The percussion really is brought to the forefront because of that little cowbell, and it allows drummer AJ Barrette to not be lost behind the flawless guitar execution. Of course, the one track that will have everyone talking is the cover of Kansas' Carry On My Wayward Son. While it's cool to hear a metal twist on the classic tune, it's a dangerous thing to try and touch vocals that were already spot on. There is a level of fun that is explored in the new version that you don't necessarily get in the original, but it may leave still leave many listeners wanting to hear the Kansas' version in the end.
Lyrics — 8
With titles like We Die Young (not the Alice In Chains' version) and Six Feet Under, you'll probably be expecting some dark, foreboding lyrics. Sure, there's a bit of that, but there's also some interesting descriptive phrases and imagery to go along with many of the songs. It should also be mentioned that the band has been called a Christian band, but again, nothing too overtly religious in the latest record. In Fanatics And Whores, Bunton starts out singing a few creative lines that get your attention -- and touches on religion a tad along the way. You with the Bible Belt buckling the knees of the world; And your rattletrap dogma in tow; You with the tie and that smile and the green in your eyes. That first line just flows to begin with, while the others relay the jaded and skeptical theme behind the song nicely. While there are not metaphors and imagery in every song, most of the tracks never get bogged down with generic lyrics. You might groan at lyrics that say, Lovesick, lost and cold and lonely; With a gutful of nothing -- but the lyrics are fairly solid for the most part.
Overall Impression — 8
When you hear the wailing guitar on the first track, it's hard not to root for The Showdown. The guitarists definitely stand at the forefront of the band, and not just on straightforward metal songs. The track It Drinks From Me has almost a Delta blues feel at the beginning, while at the chorus the band goes more toward a metal feel (the solos are the big highlight for the metal portion). Even though the track is a bit slower tempo, it has a cool feel that once again shows the talent behind the guitarists. Songs like It Drinks From Me and Temptation Come My Way start out with a cool, grooving intro and really draw you in. It does seem to be the trend that the songs start out really strong and then dip in excitement a bit. But if the band can work through the rough patches in between, then expect to be impressed by The Showdown down the road.