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The Showdown - "Blood In The Gears" (CD)

The Showdown - "Blood In The Gears" CD cover image

"Blood In The Gears" track listing:

1. The Man Named Hell (4:16)
2. Heavy Lies the Crown (3:23)
3. Bring It Down (2:15)
4. Take Me Home (5:24)
5. Blood in the Gears (4:07)
6. Dogma Enthroned (3:10)
7. No Escape (3:58)
8. The Crooked Path (3:36)
9. Graveyard of Empires (4:10)
10. Diggin' My Own Grave (5:42)

Reviewed by on September 6, 2010

"The Showdown has been working for years to distinguish themselves, and 'Blood In The Gears' shows the band is taking steps to get there, however tiny they may be."

A motorcycle in close proximity revs its engine, a loud roar that starts off "The Man Named Hell," the first track of The Showdown’s fourth album, “Blood In The Gears.” The motorcycle flows right into the opening riff, which has a Pantera-inspired groove flavor. It’s clear where the band’s influences lie from the onset and they do little to deviate from them. The lack of originality is a prime deterrent for The Showdown, but a few explosive thrash songs and an infectious component keeps “Blood In The Gears” from breaking down on the side of the road.

The Showdown hits their stride when they let their guard down and kick things up to a whole other gear (no pun intended). “Bring It Down” is quick-paced thrash with a wicked bass and guitar solo built into a tight two minutes. It is a nice jolt of energy after two mid-tempo tracks open up the album. Thrashing like a group of madmen in the middle of “No Escape” works wonders to save the track after a lackluster start. The thrash element is subdued for the most part, making its presence felt at key moments.

Most of the material is seeped in groove metal with a Southern twist. “Take Me Home” and “Diggin’ My Own Grave” have the acoustic twang and bayou-soaked atmosphere that seem inspired by the work of Down. A little sludge metal is brought into the former track, though only for a brief moment. Vocalist David Bunton shines in these songs, as his clean vocals are sharp and emotional. However, his harsh growls and barks are in constant Phil Anselmo-worship mode, a tone that has been heard from dozens of other singers.

Each song brings something different to the table, though that doesn’t automatically make “Blood In The Gears” unique. The band can’t seem to find their identity from a songwriting standpoint, and while there aren’t any outright awful tracks, very few really stand out. The worse track on here is the nu-metal-esque “Dogma Enthroned,” which sounds like something that would have been a huge hit around 2002. The guitar work has been toned down from the crazy leads of earlier work, save for the awesome solo break in “No Escape.”

“Blood In The Gears” is a competent metal album, just enough to rise above the mediocrity level. The band has been through constant line-up changes over the years, but that has done little to stop them from heading more towards a Southern metal direction. It’s a move that the band seems comfortable with, even if the thrash songs are the best tracks on here. A few more tracks like “Bring It Down” could have balanced out the album more effectively. The Showdown has been working for years to distinguish themselves, and “Blood In The Gears” shows the band is taking steps to get there, however tiny they may be.

Highs: Solid thrash songs, Bunton's clean vocals, a few nods to Down's sludge metal sound.

Lows: Band can't find their own identity, harsh vocals are very Phil Anselmo-ish, band could have used another explosive track or two.

Bottom line: The Showdown does a decent job of putting a Southern twist on a groove metal sound.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)