In a way, Job For A Cowboy aren’t like most other metal bands. Their debut album Genesis, which was released in 2007, was already a step ahead of other bands trying to make it big; at least in terms of production. Their followup album Ruination marked the start in the shift in sound from deathcore to more traditional death metal. Demonocracy (along with Gloom, an EP they released in 2011 that was actually quite good) only helps to push this cause even further; Job For A Cowboy might as well be an entirely different band than the one that released Genesis and their EP before it. Does this make them a better band though? And more importantly; is Demonocracy any good? If it’s one thing that Job For A Cowboy has trouble with on their albums, it’s consistency. So let’s see if this latest effort can finally get them over that hump.
One of the great things about 2011’s EP Gloom was that Job For A Cowboy started sounding like a band that was actually unique. Lifting itself up from depths of deathcore (where only a select few bands can survive and thrive like The Acacia Strain and Whitechapel, leaving the rest to decay in a sea of mediocrity), the band sounded like they had actual life in them while playing. Songs sounded fresh and exciting; it left you relatively excited for what they had in store for their next full-length project. Demonocracy, however, is a two-steps forward one step back kind of deal. They’ve all but left behind deathcore, and that means song structure is a little bit more exciting now (at least as exciting as death metal would allow it to be) but lost from the transition from Gloom to Demonocracy is the excitement that the EP provided. Let’s go further in depth; Demonocracy isn’t a bad album, but it’s not good either. The album kicks off with the song “Children Of Deceit” and it’s one of the high points on Demonocracy. The song has a rather high level of energy (at least compared to the rest of the album) and the chorus is relatively catchy. So far, so good right? Not so fast; that could arguably be one of the higher points on the album and it’s the first song you hear.
One of the more puzzling aspects about Demonocracy are the instruments. If you listen to them separately, they’re very good. Jon Rice has some really nice performances on this album, and his footwork and fills are, for the most part, excellent. Guitars, handled by Al Glassman and Tony Sannicandro, are at the least serviceable and at the most interesting. They’re some great riffs on Demonocracy, but also some real clunkers. Check out the song “Imperium Wolves” for an example of when the two clash in one song. It can turn a song that your enjoying one minute into a slogfest the next. This happens a lot on Demonocracy, and it persists throughout the album. For some reason, things just don’t seem to meld together as nicely on this album than on their previous EP Gloom. Whereas Gloom hit all the right spots, Demonocracy often stumbles over itself, forcing awkward choruses and sections of music just for the sake of song progression. Often throughout the album you’l find yourself saying things like “They could have made that section a little longer, because that was a sweet riff” or “Man, I really, really hate this part of the song”. It’s almost like a roller coaster ride within the same song, and it just leads to an unsatisfying listening experience.
Production wise, the ever-popular Jason Suecof handled Demonocracy, and for the most part it sounds good. It’s by far the best sounding Job For A Cowboy album to date, with drums that sound sufficiently sharp, and guitars that give way to the vocals at the appropriate time. Perhaps the best thing about the production, though, is that the needle isn’t turned up all the way to maximum volume all the time. In fact, upon listening to Demonocracy you’ll find that you’ll probably have to turn your volume up. I know some people won’t like that, but I think it sounds great. As a result, the highs don’t suffer form sounding “harsh” or “tinny” like they might on some other albums. It’s a shame that Job For A Cowboy doesn’t make more use of the dynamic range that Suecof provided them with, because you’ll rarely hear swift changes in the soundscape on Demonocracy. I’m a realistic person, so it’s not like I’m looking for Opeth levels of loud>quiet>loud again, but a little more variation would have done a lot of good on this album. As it stands now, from song to song there isn’t much that separates them.
I was hyped after hearing 2011’s Gloom EP, so Demonocracy is definitely a letdown. The flow, energy, catchiness, and excitement of Gloom just simply did not carry over to Demonocracy. In the end, a select few songs such as “Children Of Deceit”, “Tongueless And Bound” and “The Manipulation Stream” save the album from a worse opinion; if the whole album sounded more like those songs and less like, say, “Black Discharge” we’d have a different story on our hands. Die-hard Job For A Cowboy fans will probably enjoy Demonocracy, but I personally don’t see it going out there and winning anyone over.