After a much-anticipated wait, technical death metal couldn’t sound more glorious as Job For A Cowboy make a triumphant return.

Release date: February 23, 2024 | Metal Blade Records | Facebook | Bandcamp

It’s been almost nine whole years since the iconic experimental death metal band graced the extreme metal world with their presence. Yet it feels like an eternity to go that long without hearing anything since Job For A Cowboy’s 2014 technical death metal masterpiece Sun Eater. The Arizonan-born band, however, have faced a variety of personal barriers and explored other avenues of focus including family commitments, new academic and career pathways, and other music projects leading to a prolonged hiatus. However, the band have always been committed to their craft and the door has always been open for them to soon return, and that they have with Moon Healer, which can be arguably Job For A Cowboy’s purest, most well-composed display of bludgeoning death metal to date.

Things open with the band’s first single off this record, “Beyond The Chemical Doorway”. Enhancing a formidable atmosphere through the jarring open chords, JFAC bring into full swing a cosmically inclined array of technical mastery through a discharge of blast beats, a melodic bass sweeping through the wrenched sound palate, and dissonant guitar hooks that magnify the volatile death roars. “Etched in Oblivion” renders a compellingly brutal and agonising presence that allows the instrumentation to explore a variety of musical direction through an onslaught of ancient-sounding melodies and psychedelic qualities. The songwriting certainly plays into themes of mysticism and cosmic nihilism, explored in Sun Eater; the band burrow further into the mind and hallucinogenic journey of the former album’s protagonist and excavate notions of esoteric madness and Lovecraftian cosmic horror.

“Grinding Wheels Of Ophanim” continues to dive deeper into the menacing cosmic storm, enveloping massive riff structures and brutal climactic brilliance that allows the band to develop their virtuosic abilities whilst maintaining a daunting manifestation of a peripheral benighted vision. “The Sun Gave Me Ashes So I Sought Out The Moon” is a direct and stripped-back death metal track that allows us some familiarity with JFAC’s originality and musicianship. “Into the Crystalline Crypts” unleashes dissonant harmonies that portray  cryptic encodings, further playing into this hallucinogenic cosmic experience.

The album further sheds light on a range of esoteric and darkened philosophical concepts, drawing a variety of influences from the gothic horror works of Edgar Allen Poe to the psychological inanity of Carl Jung. Leading songwriter and frontman Jonny Davy affirms this emphasis on surreal themes of old occultist Gnostic teachings and the mind-altering effects of psychedelic drug use on the unconscious mind, stating, ‘When under the influence of these drugs, this individual claimed to encounter entities and find themselves in indescribable worlds that defy rational comprehension’. You can put this vivid imagery within ensuing tracks such as “A Sorrow-Filled Moon” and “The Agony Seeping Storm”, as the tempestuous instrumentals derive of a transcendental energy with spontaneity which alludes to a schizophrenia of the individual coming to terms with their own morbid reality.

The last track, “The Forever Rot”, comes as the final piece of this cosmic jigsaw that cements JFAC’s sense of sonic identity and reluctance to developing musical ideation. The guitar work between the band’s own Tony Sannicandro and Al Glassman are exemplary of the band’s progressive nature with powerful riff structures and alluring harmonies synchronised in a well-timed fashion. Nick Schendzielos’s bass lines stand out more than one might expect and offer some impressive countermelodies that explore their own sonic ground. Drummer Navene Koperweis then switches between rhythmic complexity and expressive minimalism to formulate later implementations of instrumental development on these extreme psychedelic themes, whilst Davy brandishes his intense vocal range across an intergalactic, crushing death metal soundscape.

It was a wait that, for most, felt like an eternity to finally be over, let alone nine years, and the anticipation for new Job For A Cowboy material surely left many death metal aficionados expecting something quite outstanding to accommodate. Of course, such a band can certainly deliver and JFAC still remain at the top of their craft: with enough twists and turns, the interplay between extremity and virtuosity and the cosmically philosophical edge that plays a central role in the creation of the music are just the surface of the Moon Healer’s complexity.

One Comment

  • Brent says:

    The song is titled “The Agony Seeping Storm.” I’m not sure where you got agony of a sleeping storm from, but I own the cd and have watched the video enough times to confirm this.

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