The Showdown - Backbreaker

THE SHOWDOWN - "Backbreaker" - 3.5/5

From their days as a pop-punk band named 2540, The Showdown has undergone change after change, both in line-up and in style. From the whiney vocals required for pop-punk to the crushing death growls and screams of their debut, A Chorus of Obliteration. From the technical guitars of Chorus to the intermediate-level riffs and melodic solos of their second album, Temptation Come My Way. The Showdown traded br00tality for accessibility on Temptation, but still somehow managed to sound good. Now, with their third release, Backbreaker, I think it’s fair to say that The Showdown has come into their own.

When any fan of metal hears the phrase ‘southern groove/heavy metal’ it has been my experience that they immediately jump to conclusions. Usually any band that would stick itself with this moniker gets thrown into the mental box of ‘Pantera worship bands’ and ignored, and rightly so. The Showdown, however, deserves a second look, and especially on this album.

Gone are the days of Temptation’s melodic riffs interrupted by semi-technical breakdowns. Backbreaker’s guitar lines are exceptional in every sense of the word, the technical riffs and solos providing the backbone of this record. (Heh heh, the backbone of Backbreaker, get it?). There’s also plenty of wammy bar dive-bombing, and an abundance of Dime squeals (which, say what you will, still sound really cool when put to good use). Throw in some fast palm muted riffs in the style of Randy Rhodes, some nice tapping solos and you have the recipe for some epic guitar wins.

The vocals, however, still leave something to be desired. Not really screaming, not really singing, David Bunton doesn’t seem to be able to make up his mind as to what he wants to do and, as a result, ends up sounding a little more like Phil Anselmo than I would have liked, although some of his growls really are quite impressive and even chilling. Fortunately, the band still manages to avoid the Pantera worship mentioned above. It would be nice, though, if Mr. Bunton would make up his mind rather than trying to please fans of both Temptation and Chorus at once.

Backbreaker kicks things off with a two and a half minute jam appropriately titled ‘Titanomachy-The Beginning’, before charging headlong into the anthemic ‘Hephastaeus-The Hammer of the Gods’. Some other stand out tracks include the title track ‘Achilles-The Backbreaker’, which boasts a rousing chorus, ‘Prometheus-The Fires of Deliverance’, featuring a cool guitar break over a stop-time rhythm track and ‘Aries-I Am Vengeance’ which showcases my personal favorite lyrics on the album.

The only track that really stands out in a negative way is the, quite frankly, lame ‘Infernus-You Will Move’. It seems as if the band kind of ran out of creative steam after writing eight solid songs and decided just to throw this together out of the pieces that they had left over. Much like the leftovers after Thanksgiving dinner, it just isn’t the same as the actual meal.

They recover quickly, however, with ‘Nemesis-Give us This Day’, a song that originally appeared as the bonus track on the European version of A Chorus of Obliteration. I also could have done without the two ballads ‘Cerberus-The Hellhound Awaits’ and ‘Medea-One Foot in Hell’, but that’s just personal opinion. Not that those songs are particularly bad, just that I find them kind of boring.

All in all, Backbreaker is a solid album featuring catchy choruses, some great guitar work, excellent drumming and some decent vocal lines. It kind of makes me wish, though, that they would just go back to what they were really good at and make another album along the lines of Chorus. This album may not be the most ‘tr00’ album ever released, and it may not be really ‘br00tal’, but it’s a good, fun listen and it does prove that groove metal isn’t all bad.

By A. Rath


Elync said…