Review : THE SHOWDOWN – "Blood in the Gears"

The ShowdownBlood in the Gears
Release Date: 2010Aug24 (US)
Label: Solid State Records
Rating: 2.5/5

The Showdown are pleasers—so much so, that my new nickname for them is “The Go-Down”. Thing is, I don’t want to be mercifully fellated by Metal bands, I want my socks fucking rocked… preferably off. Everything about this band’s past screams ‘imposters’, and just when I thought they couldn’t top themselves, the photos within Blood in the Gears suggests they now fancy themselves bikers. Uh-huh. What exactly are audiences supposed to glean from pictures of a deliberately-distressed jacket; a single boot; a hand holding sunglasses? If their aim was for an air of badassery, they are choking on the exhaust.

The Showdown simply don’t know what to be as a band. The album starts off with some Lamb of God-isms following studio trickery that mutates a motorcycle engine into double-bass drums. The genre-jumping is relentless, as they skid into Trivium-esque metalcore on “Heavy Lies the Crown” (and is that Godsmack‘s “Bad Religion” riff in there?). Thrashy punk comes next on “Bring It Down”—the shortest song here, which actually features a cool bass solo halfway through from Jeremiah Scott, who also produced Blood in the Gears (he’s still a guitarist with Tennessee statemates, Destroy Destroy Destroy).

If “Bring It Down” was their take on Animosity-era COC, then “Take Me Home” channels America’s Volume Dealer. Competent yes, but also textbook, and this is when the listener begins to realize how little the group emulates rebellion and individuality—tenets of biker culture—as they scarcely rise above following formula. Take the title track: it’s fairly muscular, but builds all of its strength from repetition (though I dig the possibility that they may be loosely addressing Durkheim’s notions of suicide here, it seems unlikely).

Something about “Dogma Enthroned” gets all Slipknot-y in my ears—either the modified timbre of vocalist David Bunton, or the fact that “There is no hope” sounds an awful lot like “All hope is gone”—but it is one of the heaviest tracks on the album. “No Escape” returns to the Trivium formula, and is admittedly wicked catchy; still, their reliance on reiteration is difficult to digest. “The Crooked Path” seeks to address consumerism, just as the track before took pot shots at junkies. They dredge back the Southern groove for one of the finer guitar solos from newcomer Patrick Judge (who also recently joined Demon Hunter in 2009) but I just couldn’t accept the goofy band callouts (“Bring it home, boys!”).

“Graveyard of Empires” is palatable, and features Destroy Destroy Destroy vocalist Chris Bazor, but points broadly to worldwide war, with vague Orwellian words (“War is the only peace”) which attempt to amplify impact. No luck. “Diggin’ My Own Grave” comes across as Nickelback in style, in all places except the lyrics (i.e., nothing about dirty sex). Actually, scratch that; this has more of a “Wanted Dead or Alive” vibe. Ready for my first SAT-style “is::as” in a review? Bon Jovi : cowboys :: The Showdown : bikers.

But get this: apart from the ridiculously forced faux-evil laugh about three minutes in, bonus track “The Wolven Throne” ends the proceedings on a high note, with“Open your throat to me” the best-delivered and most-unintentionally-sexual hook here. I thought I said The Showdown was performing the BJ, not receiving it (and by the verbage, that’ll be a DTBJ…yikes). Either way, it’s too abbreviated to salvage Blood in the Gears as a whole, adding another to the shitpile of mediocrity that is Solid State Records (NOT looking at you, Living Sacrifice).

FCC OK
Try 1, 2, 3, 11

01. The Man Named Hell
02. Heavy Lies the Crown
03. Bring It Down
04. Take Me Home
05. Blood in the Gears
06. Dogma Enthroned
07. No Escape
08. The Crooked Path
09. Graveyard of Empires
10. Diggin’ My Own Grave
11. The Wolven Throne

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