JOB FOR A COWBOY may be death metal's answer to MATISYAHU. Both victims and beneficiaries of an overwhelming amount of hype, JFAC have roped in a inordinately large audience for a death metal band. Like the world's most famous Hasidic reggae act, Job for a Cowboy's music is authentic but average. It never sounds as watered down or polished as one'd expect for a metal band on the charts, but also never distinct or exciting enough to be more than a passable metal band.
Nothing on Ruination, the band's follow-up to their commercial breakthrough Genesis, is particularly bad, but there's nothing musically or stylistically memorable about it. New drummer JON RICE has some impressive fills, although his presence isn't enough to distinguish Ruination from the band's earlier music. First track and video "Unfurling a Darkened Gospel" is chaotic without settling on a direction, offering enough tempo changes and a decent solo. But as with the rest of the album, the riffs can't match the brutality. The music on Ruination is as original as song titles like "Lords of Chaos" and "To Detonate and Exterminate," and Job for a Cowboy's lack of sonic direction isn't helped by their inability to find anything catchy or jaw-droppingly aggressive enough for their technical talent.
Press for Ruination indicates that there's something political about it. Whether or not anyone is counting on metal bands to articulate current world affairs, Job for a Cowboy's messages about mass genocide and propaganda would have some genuine force if given the right music. JFAC should be commended for bringing death metal to a larger audience, and they still have plenty of time to develop some good ideas. Until then, great American death metal is a job for someone else.
2 High Plains Drifters out of 5
– Ben Apatoff