Having never really been a huge fan personally of the group’s previous outings, hearing the shift toward a Progressive Death Metal style still left me a bit pessimistic, especially after reading the insanely ego-stroking press release that accompanied the material. Quotes like “cerebral and accomplished piece of technical death metal” and “Jonny Davy continues to be one of the most visceral and [thought] provoking throats in the business” comments littered the digital one-page pitch. Indeed, this was going to be another album destined to be a hit whether I liked it or not. But the material itself kind of surprised me.
One of the things I never found true about Job for a Cowboy was their brutality. There simply was very little of it. It all sounded fairly digital, watered down, and safe for any Death Metal community out there. This is why I’m kind of enjoying Sun Eater at this point. Despite the above comments, Sun Eater feels like the most natural of progressions for the band. This isn’t all that “visceral” a recording, especially in the vocals which I think are as decent as they have always been, but rather a better structured outing that plays into every members strengths better than any previous recording. The only time I really felt anything truly abrasive here was the blistering intensity found in “A Global Shift”. I loved the hostility in the first minute, which nicely shifted into more mid-tempo bass hooks with a subtle epic touch that quickly escalated for one of the most impressive guitar solos I have ever heard from these guys.
But what really stuck with me were the solid bass lines. These were pulled straight to the forefront of the mix, giving the atmospheric hooks a little more depth. Picture Cynic grade skill over some good Progressive Death Metal laced with Nile atmospheres and Neoclassical guitar solos, and you get a good chunk of what these passages have to offer. “Sun of Nihility” stood out the most to me, even though I found the first two minutes to be incredibly boring. The richer, fluid environments weaved later made the incredibly slow progression absolutely worth it, leaving me looking forward to another go around.
Just from a casual spin, I can already tell Job for a Cowboy have finally found their true niche within the Progressive Death Metal genre. Sun Eater seems to be quite the impressive album that managed to hold my interest from start to finish with only a few rough patches of boredom that were hard to sit through, though wound up being worth my patience. This isn’t another generic sounding Death Metal outing that plays it safe, which earns points in my book for this band I typically just ignored in my personal life. I’m glad I got to hear Sun Eater, and look forward to giving this a proper review in the time to come, but as it stands, this looks like it’s going to be one of the biggest surprises that 2014 has in store for us.