It seems bizarrely intimate to see Job for a Cowboy playing a venue as small as Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms. Particularly as last time I saw the five-piece from Arizona play live it was to several thousand on the main stage at the Download Festival. Having said that, however, their punishing death metal is made for venues like this and they’ve attracted an enthusiastic crowd which nicely fills the room.
I think it’s fair to say that there is considerable interest in the support acts tonight too. Trigger The Bloodshed and Annotations of an Autopsy seem to be supporting every death metal band on tour recently but they have honed their sets nicely and warm things up nicely without really offering anything that we haven’t seen before. But it’s Tennessee deathcore merchants, Whitechapel, that have a lot of this crowd excited. Indeed, judging by the t-shirts being sold at the merch stall, this could almost be a joint headline tour.
Their set kicked off with the fierce attack of the monstrous The Darkest Day Of Man and, from thereon in, the band laid down brutal riff and brutal riff and had any doubters well and truly won over. This is furious stuff and, with the help of three guitarists, they inject each track with layers of devastating energy. Most of the set is taken from their latest release, A New Era Of Corruption, but the older tracks still garner the most enthusiastic response. Vocalist, Phil Bozeman, is on fine form, shifting comfortably between his trademark guttural growls and fierce screams, all the while holding the attention of everyone in the room. Their set is over all too quickly but nobody is left disappointed and I look forward to them heading back on a headline tour soon.
After such a storming set from their fellow Americans, Job For A Cowboy are forced to raise their game and that’s exactly what they succeed in doing. I’ve seen them a few times in different settings but tonight they seem to be tighter and more intense than ever and manage to just about justify their spot at the top of the bill. Their more technical tracks lost none of the intensity of the more crushing, straight-forward death metal tunes and only went to strengthen their credibility within a scene that has been divided in its acceptance of a band once seen as “Myspace pretenders”.
Jonny Davy makes a great frontman and his bandmates deliver the goods impressively through tracks including Knee Deep, Bearing A Serpent’s Lam and the brutal Entombment Of A Machine. While they may not quite have matched the furiousness of Whitechapel’s set, they left the Wolverhampton metalheads heading home suitably satisfied.
Review & Photos — Steve Gerrard