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CD Review: The Showdown- Blood in the Gears

Posted on August 30, 2010

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

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