October 25, 2008

CD Review: The Showdown - Back Breaker

When I first heard the name The Showdown I, for some reason, got Throwdown stuck in my head. I have no idea why, although I guess it could be the shared "-down" in their names. They do have a couple of things in common, at least to my ears. Both bands have a crunchy heaviness featuring pit churning breakdowns, and both acts' sound seems to have strong southern influences, as if they both listened to a lot of Pantera. However, not all is identical, thankfully, with Throwdown easily being the heavier of the two. Beyond that, I cannot compare much more as I am unfamiliar with the majority of Throwdown's work and this is my first exposure to The Showdown.

The Showdown is a Christian metal act that recently signed with Solid State records, home of other Christian metal acts such as Norma Jean and Demon Hunter. Back Breaker is their Solid State debut and their third full length overall. I have read that this album combines the styles of the prior releases while heading in a different direction.

Upon receiving the CD, the first thing I noticed was a big black sticker covering the entire front of the case. What were they hiding, I wondered? I mean, they are a Christian act after all, so it could not be anything too graphic. I took the wrapper off and revealed a ripped man wearing a loincloth and sporting a body pierced by a great number of arrows. What? Sorry, maybe I am dense (which could very well be the case), but I don't get it.

showdownI took the disk, put it into my CD player, pressed play and began my first listen to The Showdown. All right, heavy riffs, some nice lead work, I can get into this. The next song begins after the short instrumental open. Heavy, but not too heavy riffs pick up, semi-growled vocals enter the fray and Back Breaker is off and running.

Heavy with hints of thrash, hardcore, metalcore, southern metal, and probably a few more that I am forgetting. The Showdown certainly threw everything except the kitchen sink into the mix, a little bit for everyone. Unfortunately, this attempt to be everything to everyone backfires a bit as it leads to a lack of overall focus. What are they trying to be? What audience is this for? Sure, there are those that just desire for heavy music, and this will fill the bill, but it does not lead to a memorable experience.

The further in that I got the more something jumped out at me. The Showdown reminds me an awful lot of Shadows Fall by way of Pantera. Listen to the album and tell me you don't hear the same. This is not meant, necessarily, as a negative, but it does cast a certain light on the band. It is a light that brings a "been there, done that" feel to them. What they do is solid, but it does not jump out as being all that fresh.

Songs of note: "Aphrodite - The Disillusionaire," "Prometheus - The Fires of Deliverance," "Aries - I Am Vengeance," and "Medea - One Foot in Hell".

Bottomline. Not great, but definitely solid. This is a good album to put on if you just want a little something heavy playing without the need to overexert yourself listening to it. It won't disappoint, but not necessarily thrill.

Mildly Recommended.


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