Job For a Cowboy/Whitechapel/Cattle Decapitation/Gaza/Fallen Martyr

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, April 29, 2010

Man, it has been one hell of a month for metal shows. I don’t know what it is about April, but this month artists such as Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan and Deceased all toured in Maryland. The latest big metal show was a Job For a Cowboy headlining show, and this wasn’t that surprising as the group usually makes their way here around this time of year. This time around the band brought along Whitechapel, Cattle Decapitation, and Gaza for the ride and this was definitely a great showcase of the Metal Blade Records talent.

Local metal band Fallen Martyr was able to open for this stop of the tour, and they had drawn a decent sized crowd. When I reviewed their material earlier this year I felt it was promising but still needed work in a few areas. However, I figured that the band’s potential would really be proven in a live setting and this turned out to be true. Fallen Martyr’s songs have a lot of progressive elements, and they often move between fast paced thrash riffs and much lighter, mellower sections. Their overall sound was surprisingly good, and the band decided to focus on their faster moments in order to get the crowd going. However, just like on their album vocalist Ryan Rawlings’ clean vocals just don’t stand out and sound a little weak. His screams are fine but his clean singing sounds a little out of tune and is sometimes hard to hear. The band was still enjoyable to watch and is better live than on album, but they still have a little ways to go.

Gaza is a band that I have been waiting to see for a couple of years now, but it seems like they have mostly toured on the West Coast up to this point. Last year they released their sophomore effort He Is Never Coming Back and its combination of fast paced grind and extremely slow sludge metal made it one of my new favorites. For their set the group played quite a few new songs as well as some of their older ones, and they absolutely killed it live. Despite the fact that the mosh pit had some of the most annoying people I’ve ever seen in it (there were crazy windmills hitting everyone) the ridiculous amount of energy that the instrumentals and vocals more than made up for it. Gaza’s extremely heavy, sludge driven material isn’t for everyone but if you enjoy the genre they are well worth seeing live.

Up next was Cattle Decapitation, who are touring around their newest album The Harvest Floor. The group was probably the craziest on this particular tour, as their mixture of death metal and grind is often so fast that it can be hard to keep up with. While I wasn’t sure how the mix of extremely high pitched shrieks and low pitched growls would translate into a live performance, I was extremely impressed to discover that vocalist Travis Ryan is able to pull it all off and actually sounds even better in person. Although they didn’t have that long of a set, the group was able to pull from various points in their discography and really got the crowd going. While I’m familiar with a few of their albums, their powerful live performance has convinced me to investigate more of their back catalog.

When it comes to deathcore, Whitechapel has been one of the few genre acts that I can really get behind. By this point in the night the floor had really filled up and it wasn’t long before the pit began swallowing up all of the available space. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and was completely surprised when the band came out and had more energy than any of the other bands. The group is extremely tight and don’t miss a beat live, and the vocals are even more aggressive and in your face than they are on album. Although I had been worrying I might be bored by the end of their set it kept me staring at the stage in awe for the entire time. Right before their last song, Whitechapel organized a wall of death and it is safe to say that the crowd was pretty damn tired by the time they finished.

While Job For a Cowboy was headlining, I noticed that a good deal of the crowd had cleared out after Whitechapel. But those who stuck around were definitely enjoying themselves throughout the band’s hour long set. Perhaps it was because I had just been wowed by Whitechapel, but for some reason I found myself extremely underwhelmed by this particular set. Although they were just as technically proficient as before and had a good deal of stage presence, their set just kind of blended together and after about half an hour I found myself spacing out (the exception to this was when they played “Knee Deep” and “Entombment of a Machine”). I’ve seen Job For a Cowboy three times now, and for whatever reason it seemed as though the last two times were better. But despite this, they’re still worth checking out if you’re into this style of death metal and do live up to their recorded material.

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