The Showdown - Back Breaker
Record Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: August 19, 2008
The Showdown is back with another dose of “High Voltage Heavy Metal” with which to get you “Snake Bit” as they like to say. But a number of things have changed since we last heard from these Nashville, Tennessee metalheads. First, they have left Mono Vs. Stereo in favor of the indie hardcore/metalcore powerhouse Solid State Records. Second, this is the first album with all drums being recorded by AJ Barrrette (former Still Remains). Their previous drummer left after most of the drums for Temptation Come My Way had been recorded, and Barrette only recorded on a few of the songs for that album. Third, The Showdown has continued to evolve their sound. As the transition between their debut A Chorus of Obliteration from a predominantly metalcore/hardcore band became a more clean-sounding throw-back 80’s style of metal with Temptation Come My Way, which was dominated by clean vocals and showcased very little of the screaming/growling of their first album. Here, on Back Breaker, we see The Showdown reveal their inner Pantera. In many ways it is a return to a similar sound of their debut, without making it A Chorus of Obliteration II. It’s a welcome return to a heavier sound, but this is where we find the fourth change for The Showdown; namely the strangely quiet departure of guitarist Travis Bailey. It isn’t such a noticeable difference that it takes away from the album, but it does make one wonder how different the album would have sounded with Bailey as he and now primary guitarist Josh Childers split the lead-guitar duties on their previous albums.
As I mentioned earlier, The Showdown lets out their “inner Pantera” on this album as they adhere to more of a thrash metal sound (also, vocalist Dave Bunton’s half yelling-half growling on this album does bring to mind Pantera’s own Phil Anselmo from time to time). Lyrically, The Showdown has previously covered topics such as stories taken directly from The Old Testament portion of The Bible (A Chorus of Obliteration), and overcoming temptation and struggling with vices (Temptation Come My Way), but neither of those are re-hashed on Back Breaker. Lead guitarist and primary lyricist, Josh Childers has, it appears, quite an interest in Greek mythology as one might surmise from merely glancing over the song titles. These mythological characters are paired with lyrics that deal with failure, triumph, tragedy and victory. I must again address the vocals, as they are another part of The Showdown that has changed with every album. Dave Bunton has an excellent hardcore/metalcore voice; the man can scream, growl and he can actually pull off clean singing vocals with ease. However, with regards to the clean vocals, I had grown accustomed to the singing on Temptation Come My Way, and when it comes to singing choruses on this album, there is more of a grittiness to Bunton’s voice, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It fits the overall tone of this record in a way that the Temptation vocals may not have.
I know that there are few bands on Solid State’s roster that differ in sound from either Underoath, Norma Jean, or Demon Hunter (with the exception of The Chariot, newer As Cities Burn, and Showbread), but I do believe that The Showdown has steered clear of any of those “prototype molds” that are so easily perceived within that record label. The bottom line is that while The Showdown may change their sound, seemingly with every release, it is forward progress and that's what is most important in the evolution of a band.