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Blood In the Gears

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 24, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

The Showdown's new album, Blood in the Gears, represents the band down to its DNA, on the cellular level. Blood allows your body to survive. Gears make machines move. This rifftacular Tennessee band's gears are greased with the blood of their passion. And the end result is electrifying.

While some bands that experience membership changes give up or give in to that undeniable occupational headache, The Showdown didn't even think about going that route. No way, son. They elected to keep on keepin' on, a testament to their Southern work ethic and their passion for playing.

New bassist Jeremiah Scott produced early The Showdown records, so it made perfect sense for him to step into the rhythm section of the band and to man the boards on Blood in the Gears, their second album for Solid State Records. With Scott, the band gained a bassist and a songwriter! While The Showdown also enjoyed a measure of success in the past few years, including a slot on Ozzfest 2007 and even had the title track of their last album, 2008's Back Breaker, appear in the film Legion as well as on the wildly popular Charlie Sheen sitcom, Two and a Half Men, The Showdown continue to do things their way. without pretense and a whole truckload o' passion. The do things their way and the results? Well, they speak for themselves, especially with Blood in the Gears.

"We did it super punk rock and that had a lot to do with the way it turned out," vocalist David Bunton said of the process. "It's got different lyrical ideas that we had never really done before. But we got it done, which is totally metal, in that we didn't give up. We started in 1999 and played hundreds of show before we got signed, made a record or printed a t-shirt. Me and Josh were the two core members, making music and we love doing that still."

For Josh Childers, who previously wrote all of The Showdown's music, Blood in the Gears marked a significant left turn for him. He let the new members share in a bulk of the writing duties and responsibilities. "I did a lot less writing for this record," he admitted. "I wrote 90-95 percent of everything beforehand. This time, I have Jeremiah and Patrick writing riffs and arranging. I came into the process late and did more arranging and lyrics. They gave me more than enough material to work with." It wasn't any sort of changing of the guard in The Showdown camp; rather, it was a change of pace and new infusion of blood to course through those gears, with the band's signature, Southern metal sound firmly intact and in place.

Childers admits that giving up control and letting someone else take the reins was indeed scary. "I have been a control freak and I did not know how it would turn out," he said. "I was pessimistic, but when it came together, it came together. They did a great job and did it differently than I would have done it and that can be scary, but I have faith in the final product." Childers revealed that he stepped back because of simple writer's block and the fact that the band took some time off the road. "I haven't been with my guitar and hadn't written," he said. "Patrick and Jeremiah would spend six hours, locked up, playing riffs, so I respect the amount of work they did. Now, The Showdown is really collaborative, moreso than ever."

It was an unorthodox approach, but then again, The Showdown, like Ol' Blue Eyes, are content with doing things their way. "We have reached a pinnacle of doing things our way, internally within the band with this album," Childers said. "There was not even a consideration of pressure from anywhere else. We're not doing this because we want to be told what to do. I'd just work a 9 to 5 and make more money if I wanted that. We are not a slave to wage."

Childers admits that lyrically, The Showdown's first album, 2004's A Chorus of Obliteration boasted "Bible stories made metal" and that 2007's Temptation Come My Way was "more internal." He attests to 2008's Back Breaker being "all over the place," but says Blood in the Gears is themed around concept of the empire in history and the bad things it does to a culture. "It's the classic comparison of America to the fall of Rome," Childers said. "The central authority tends to distort and then have a revolution with the right intentions but when you centralize power, and it's not personal, it is bad for people in general and makes you less human. You become part of an empire, giving up more power to be more of a slave and less human. Dave and I really have something to say. It's not whining about breaking up with a girlfriend, but it's more world themes and represents a change in mindset. The whole theme is that we are the blood in the gears of the machine, that which greases the gears."

The Showdown also brought in guitarist Patrick Judge, who also serves as a guitarist in Demon Hunter. Judge joined the band because Scott kept "bugging me to jam" and Judge ended up "coming out, hanging out, playing a festival and never leaving. I was hanging around like a bad cough." Judge was happy to hunker down and write voraciously in his new role. "Josh and I trade off a lot [of the solos]. I do the first or second; he'll finish it off. There is a lot of that on the record."

Nearly every song has a solo, and there ain't nothing wrong with that. Judge even admitted, "This album is influenced heavily by Southern rock, like Pantera. With this record, all we listened to Pantera, Down, Black Label Society. You are supposed to ride a motorcycle while listening to this."

The rhythm section was for the recording was rounded out by Tim `Yogi' Watts, a longtime friend of the band and member of Demon Hunter, who stepped in and helped out as The Showdown sorted through some membership revolving doors. Yogi moved to Tennessee with Bunton, sat behind the kit for the band during its spring and summer tours in 2009 and recorded the drums for the new album. Due to some personal matters, Yogi was not able to join the band full time, even though he was welcome to.

Bunton also deems Blood in the Gears "an open-minded record. We have a song on there that is our Bon Jovi/Warrant 'Dead or Alive.' It's called 'Digging My Own Grave,' and it's an acoustic, Southern rock biker ballad. There is a nod to death metal too. And songs that sound like the devil." Amen to that.

Scott, who worked with the band as a producer before he was a member, was able to contribute music and to help foster the sound on the album now that he was actually in The Showdown officially. "They were jumping styles each record," he said. "This is just heavy Southern metal. It is not super thrashy or detuned or fast, or poppy. We just wrote heavy, Southern metal. It can have singing or screaming. It can be catchy or not catchy. Whatever the case, it's just heavy Southern metal that hits the nail on the head."

The album's opening song, "Man Named Hell", was partially written, by Scott's Harley-Davidson motorcycle. "We wrote the song, recorded the bike, and started to write riffs to the looping of the exhaust. After trying at it for a bit, Patrick realized that we had a similar riff in one of our demos. There was already an entire song attached to the riff so basically the Harley picked a tune out from our demos to be made into the intro for the album's first song," Scott said. Not many bands can lay claim to a motorcycle dictating and morphing into a riff, but The Showdown aren't like every other heavy rock band from the South.

The old saying is "American by birth, Southern by the grace of God." For The Showdown, it's more like "Southern by birth, metal by the Grace of God." Blood in the Gears demonstrates that fact from start to finish.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 24, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SOLID STATE RECORDS
  • ASIN: B003VI5J68
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,554 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: MP3 Music
This is two part review coming from different perspectives. If you're a Christian looking for faith affirming metal music, part 1 is for you. If you're not a Christian, Part 2 is for you.

Part 1: The Showdown for sometime has been understood to be a Christian band according to my research. After hearing this CD, I'd have to say that it would be difficult to convict them of being Christians at all. The overt focus on Suicide, Evil, Digging your own grave and Hell makes it difficult find a positive message, an encouraging word, or uplifting thought here. This is the first album from The Showdown that I've purchased, I haven't heard any of the others, if I had it to do over, I wouldn't have purchased it. The most "Christian" lyric appears in the song "Bring it Down" which says, "Respect only to God" but that lyric isn't expounded on much. If you're looking for smart Christian metal with depth, give Project 86 a look...

Part 2: I do have to hand it to The Showdown, I give this album 5 stars from a musical standpoint. The riffs are tight and smart, love the harmonics, and the vocals. The mixing and recording is top notch and I really like the way the drums are miked/processed. The sharp kick bass click reminds me of old Pantera, well done guys. I'm not so much into the death metal growling, but that's just personal preference. I'm in my mid 30's and my metal influences stem back to the mid 80's. I hear strong Zakk Wylde, Pantera, Metallica, Slayer (just a bit), and others.. From a musical standpoint, this is a fantastic metal album that would be worthy in any heavy metal fans library.

I gave this review 3 stars because I expect a bit more from my Christian brothers.
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I've had this for about 3 weeks now and it's left my car stereo for only a few short moments. this cd is absolutely amazing and heavy and F*** even the two slower songs ( Take me home and Digging my own grave ) which are both amazing in there own right, but I can't remember when I listened to a cd this many times over and haven't tired of it yet. there is not one week song on this cd, but I do usually listen to more death metal and thrash, and find it funny or odd that the one song I find myself skipping over from time to time is #3 which i find kind of ironic... but the songs I do love and there are many... A man named Hel - Heavy lies the crown( 2:08- 2:36 ) my favorite stretch of music on the entire cd, heavy as hell catchy and makes me feel like i could tear down a concrete wall with my bear knuckles - Take me home - Blood in the gears... I could seriously put all the songs on this list, but I will keep it at those ones that stick out a little more for me... If you like any sorta metal then you owe it to yourself to buy Blood in the Gears, this cd bleeds metal out of every pore , I've listened to some good cd's this year but this could possibly end up being my favorite one of the entire year... This cd is a beast... nothing drowns out those kids in there decked out $2000 cars playing there Rap and Hip Hop better then this cd... this cd is meant to be played loud with the windows down... enjoy...
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The showdown has become one of the most interesting bands to follow. Every album has its own distinct feel while at the same time maintaining its core sound. To tell the truth I'm not even sure which subgenre this would fall into, I believe metalcore or groove metal would be the closest, but in my opinion it's just metal. The funny thing is you don't see too many metal bands out there anymore. I can only think of a handful; God Forbid, Devildriver, Chimaira, Lamb of God. I'm sure there will be people to see this and say "nuh-uh that's speed metal, and that's groove metal, and that's....." Whatever in my book it's just metal. So, if you're a fan of any of those bands please pick this album up. A very solid album from beginning to end, definitely one of my favorites. Even the slower songs catch my ear the right way, and I'm normally a hater on slow songs.
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The Showdown have come a long long way. I saw them live back in 2004 and they were energetic and fun but hardly memorable. 2008's "Back Breaker" saw their sound become honed and refined towards the southern rock spectrum and now with "Blood in the Gears," we are treated to some ultra-macho, chest-pounding, riffs-with-rabies Johnny Rebel groove metal the likes of which we've never seen.

The Showdown take nasty, snarling southern riffs and blends them with hardcore energy and urgency, and what comes out of the oven is guaranteed to get every head banging within earshot. There's groove a-plenty, with a little melody and emotion here and there but this isn't soul-baring metalcore. Oh no, this is locked-'n-loaded, leather jacket and metal studs man's man metal. And it is absolutely buck wild. Not the fastest or heaviest fish in the barrel but the energy is so infectious, I can't get it out of my head. You'll hear numerous influences, from Metallica to Pantera to Hatebreed, but this is no copycat. It takes the macho swagger from early 90's thrash and flings in into a 21st century circle pit. If you don't move to this, you are comatose.
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