Album Review :
The Showdown - Temptation Come My Way

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Artist: The Showdown
Album: Temptation Come My Way
Label: Mono Vs. Stereo Records
Release Date: February 20, 2007
Review by: Eric Pettersson

All I knew were the two song I had downloaded from PureVolume, and that I wanted to be up front for Showbread right after them, so I pushed my way to the first row of the HM Stage at Purple Door 2005 with no clue what I was about to experience. This guy with long blonde hair comes out with ripped jeans, a flannel shirt, and his own band’s t-shirt underneath (customized by ripping off the sleeves). Those who have seen them live know exactly what I’m talking about, and with a smile remember him, David Bunton. Having led The Showdown out of obscurity and the southern land of Tennessee, this man is a phenomenon among his statue-like metal contemporaries and holds every listener’s ears for ransom. The Showdown are, as stated on the back of a t-shirt, “high voltage heavy metal.” Produced by Bruce Fitzhugh, their debut, A Chorus of Obliteration, brought in wave after wave of fans who would soon spread rumors of this band being the saviors of Christian metal.

Then they introduced a new song to their live set called “Breath of the Swamp.” Gone were the epic lyrics of the full album, spun around various Biblical events. In was a down-home and southern sound that was very very dirty, much like the blood pouring out of David’s nose that day at Purple Door, splattering the microphone and giving his blonde hair a new red streak. New rumors arose, interviews were conducted, and it was soon discovered that this band meant business. The new album was going to be a little more than natural progression. About a year ago, David was talking Jesus Freak Hideout about the new album and said, “It’s 9 to 5 Construction Worker.” No screaming. The Showdown, high voltage heavy metal, a lot less double bass, and no screaming? Fans were eagerly anticipant and quietly worried of what would come next from The Showdown.

Our fears were set to rest this summer when a demo of “Temptation Come My Way” surfaced. It all came together. This is still The Showdown playing their signature style of metal, but David just sings instead. And it’s a very heavy metal singing, so it works out. Still, this is one song, and they’ve got a whole album to try to pull off here.

“People don’t know what they’re doing,” says the employee of everyone’s favorite large music store as he hands me the copy of Temptation Come My Way that I just made him go get from the back because no one bothered to put them on the shelves yet, even though this album was officially released yesterday. But this is The Showdown’s sophomore effort, and nothing, not even hell, could stop me now. I hand them the money and rush to my car.

I am squirming with excitement from the opening riff on “Fanatics and Whores,” one of the most metal songs on the album, which speaks out against the droves of people trying to sell Jesus for cash. They’ve actually made this sound work, or so I think. Two or three listens later, and I’m borderline depressed. I miss David’s awesome screams. The cover song sucks. “We Die Young” is more plain hard rock than it is metal. That last song, “Death Find Us Breathing,” is way too nu-metal, not to mention the second-rate double bass towards the end of a few other songs. Luckily, I decide to give it a fourth spin.

From the 80s intro and awesome breakdown/ guitar solo of “Head Down” to the revamped returns of “Temptation Come My Way” and “Breath of the Swamp,” complete with a necessarily growled ending, the metal is still here. “Six Feet Under” and “Forget My Name” are heavy and powerful, and certainly The Showdown, even if there are no screams. “I, Victim (Here’s to the Year)” if full of riffs that could have been pulled right out of the A Chorus of Obliteration sessions, and I remember that David did do a lot more singing on the first album than the average metal band would have. “It Drinks from Me” starts out with acoustic guitars and David’s southern accent most noticeable on this sad slower track about a broken family, and while it’s not metal, it’s still good, and I applaud The Showdown for branching out and trying something new. Even though I didn’t like it the first few times, “Carry On Wayward Son” has found its place on the album, and while David Bunton’s singing voice is no match for Steve Walsh, and while I would have preferred to hear this song in their old style with screams and growls rather than this attempt to sound like Kansas, it’s still a decent track and I’m glad it’s there. One of my favorite’s has grown to be “Spitting in the Wind,” after I listened a little closer and read the lyrics. Taking another new step, The Showdown have actually written a love song of sorts, and while the music is still heavy, it’s also fun, and the lyrics are almost beautiful.

Temptation Come My Way was playing in my car tonight. As I left a job interview at a convenience store that will probably say “no thank you” (this is what happens when you stick to that worthless old-fashioned idea of not working on Sundays), I hit play and knew this trip was worthwhile just to hear this album on the way there and back. They’ll certainly lose some old fans and gain a ton of new ones, but all of that is little more than dust in the wind. The Showdown have made the album that they wanted to make, and while that phrase has become so pretentious and meaningless as every band tries to say it about their latest release, The Showdown are one of the few who actually deliver a CD that is all their own and one that fans will know was well worth the wait from the previous record. And just because I couldn’t figure out how to work it into this review while sounding good, I’ll abscurely tag it onto the end here: git snake bit!

8/10

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