CD Review: The Showdown- Blood in the Gears
by James Zalucky
Blood in the Gears is the new album from southern metal act, The Showdown. The album begins with the snarl of a motorcycle engine and kicks in from there with The Man Named Hell. The song has some groovy hooks and a catchy chorus line, making for a strong start. Heavy Lies the Crown has solid, choppy beat to it, and should make for a good amount of headbanging at the band's live shows. Much of the album proceeds in a similar way, as a mix of southern groove-metal and melodic death metal screams. The Showdown can speed things up as well, with some thrashier numbers. Generally speaking, the band sounds like a tight musical unit, and there are some cool riffs and solos to be found here.
However, I need to be honest and say that the album left me feeling a little deflated. I like an album to be well produced, but sometimes a sound can get so polished that it takes away from a band's edge. From the sound of the record, The Showdown wants to take three things: Southern groove metal, thrash metal, and riff-laden Metalcore and merge it into a cohesive sound that they can call their own. But the production really impedes this approach, to the point where the album risks sounding like a generic contemporary hard rock record. This is even more true when trying to lay down the faster songs like Bring it Down. The song has a good drive, and there is a really sweet part where you hear the bass ride along on its own. But the verse riff just doesn't have that eye-opening effect that makes for great Thrash Metal. Take me Home is a definite bright spot on the album, a solid southern-style dirge with plenty of Down style grooves and blistering solo work. I also liked Dogma Enthroned, with its pounding verse and atmospheric echo chorus, it gave the album some needed variation. I just wish they could translate this into their other songs. On songs like No Escape and Blood in the Gears, the band sounds like Ascendancy-era Trivium, but missing the same memorable riffs. On The Crooked Path, the band takes a shot at the typical suburban "American Dream" scenario. I can certainly appreciate this, but as far as social commentary goes, the lyrics left me kind with little more than a passive shrug. Some riffs stand out, but too many seem to just get lost in the mix of plain-sounding grooves and pinch harmonics.
If The Showdown could make their riffs stand out more, use more raw production, and branch out lyrically- then the band could take its tight musical chemistry and really make a great album. Blood in the Gears is not a bad record, and if you're looking for a slab of straight-forward heavy metal, then you'll probably enjoy it. I just feel like The Showdown could do a lot more.
Favorite Tracks: The Man Named Hell, Take Me Home, and Dogma Enthroned