A disclaimer before I go into my thoughts on Job for A Cowboy’s debut album Genesis: between 2006 and 2009 I was an avid consumer of metal and deathcore. I loved the beatdowns, it spoke to the trauma I could not communicate at that age except through blind anger. Like all fans of those genres at that time, I was toxic, but listening to deathcore I had a safe outlet for that nihilistic despair and fear of intimacy. The bands I sought comfort in were The Red Chords, Animosity and Bring Me The Horizon‘s first album. I also listened to classic death metal bands like Suffocation and Incantation, so had a frame of reference for what those deathcore bands claimed inspiration from but could also appreciate them on their own merits. But fans of Job for A Cowboy made me cringe, they were the “posers” in the deathcore scene back then. No one took them seriously. So now I’ve listened to Job For A Cowboy’s entire discography to see if I can take them seriously in retrospect.
When Job For A Cowboy wrote Genesis in 2007 it was an attempt to distance themselves from their immature 2005 debut Doom. I haven’t listened much to Doom because it’s evident it was written by 16-year-olds and its production levels are not sophisticated enough to warrant repeat listening, perhaps unless you were a fan of it back then. Genesis does away with the breakdowns and pig squealing because the band wanted to be taken seriously. This was their introduction into death metal as they imagined it, then. It was also the year that Despised Icon released The Ills Of Modern Man, The Red Chord released Prey For Eyes and Animosity released Animals. All of these bands showed how diverse deathcore as a genre could be, that it was a genre in its own right and not a gimmicky attempt at death metal itself.
Which is a shame for Genesis because, in distancing itself from its origins, it becomes derivative of the genre it wants to gain acceptance from. This might be harsh considering it was their first album, but their contemporaries had shown that deathcore could be both mature, and effective on a personal level. The lyrics of Genesis mainly deal in “serious” topics such as militant atheism and the tyranny of social leaders but show no deeper grasp of these themes than to say leaders are godlike, thus they are bad. They don’t address their own personal struggle with these structures in societies, rather taking the pulpit to impose their beliefs in the same way the gods and tyrants in their lyrics do. In the final song, ‘Coalescing Prophecy’, they growl “they have mindlessly chosen the path of social standards. The path of conformity, with the mark of eternal damnation.” Which is ironic because by not questioning their own stance they take a reactionary and conformist position on the topics they want to bring to our attention. You’re damned if you don’t follow the tyrant and you’re damned if you disagree with Job for A Cowboy.
Which would make us think that we’re damned either way but guitarists Ravi Bhadriraju and Bobby Thompson make a decent effort in turning Job For A Cowboy into a legit death metal act. Their instrumentation is perhaps the best thing about this record, even if it falls short of their inspirations such as Suffocation and Hate Eternal. They focus on giving context to the serious topics the lyrics undertake but never quite fulfil the ambition of the lyrics of their inspirations. Which doesn’t mean the riffs are bad, just never emotionally captivating enough to warrant becoming attached to. By removing themselves from their deathcore roots, they lose the intimacy and emotional urgency of those bands in favour of becoming a tribute act to their inspirations. Although the album is only 30 minutes long, it becomes fatiguing to finish as each song melts into the next. The thematic current of the lyrics translates into the songs themselves creating a monotonous listening experience. A common mistake bands in this style make is confusing technical proficiency with an enjoyable listening experience, and it’s one Job For A Cowboy make on their debut album Genesis.
For more on deathcore, read one writer’s defence of the genre here.
Words: Joe-Julian Naitsri