Released: 2007, Mono Vs. Stereo
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
TEMPTATION COME MY WAY, the sophomore release from Tennessee’s The Showdown, is an interesting piece of music. Not so much for what lies within the CD itself—this is pretty standard, mid-nineties Metallica/Nickelback/Creed worship—but instead, the drastic changes from their last outing, 2004’s A CHORUS OF OBLITERATION. The band on that album was a screeching Christian metalcore act a la As I Lay Dying/Norma Jean, so in the course of three years, The Showdown has re-invented itself as a southern rock ‘n roll band with some barely-metal riffs. HUH?!?!?! A cynic would say that The Showdown is merely selling out and an about-face as extreme as this certainly leaves me scratching my head but for what it’s worth, TEMPTATION COME MY WAY is an enjoyable, albeit extremely familiar and formulaic album of semi-decent rock tunes. At its best, the band lays down a truckload of catchy melodies, power chords and tracks that are ripe for modern rock radio. At its worst, however, things dwell painfully close to the kind of mid-paced treacle and nu-metal retreads that have polluted FM radio over the last ten years.
The smoking opening riff of “Fanatics and Whores” instantly brought to mind Black Label Society. A thick, sludgy groove and the gang-style grunts make for excellent potential in the live setting here. “Head Down,” “Forget My Name” and “I, Victim (Here’s To The Year)” each kick into a driving, modern-rock groove that keep the momentum up and inject plenty of melody in the choruses to make them stick. “Six Feet Under” rumbles along with an Alice In Chains-like chug to the main riff and copping more nineties influence, the title track and “Breath of The Swamp” could be lifted straight off Metallica’s LOAD or BLACK ALBUM. Embracing their own southern roots, the country-tinged “It Drinks From Me” owes as much to Nickelback and Bon Jovi as it does Lynyrd Skynyrd. Even a wretched, downtuned cover of Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son” is an ambitious (but totally unsuccessful) maneuver for the band to take.
Ditching the Christian metalcore shtick was probably a wise move for The Showdown but altering their course for a sound that has been passé for almost ten years, well, it may be like cutting off your nose to spite your face. If nothing else, TEMPTATION COME MY WAY is a great CD to drive to. The melodies and rock guitar riffs will find just about anyone pressing the pedal a little heavier and wholly immersing themselves in silly air guitar solos behind the wheel. This is modern/hard rock at its bare roots and despite what the band and the press materials say, classifying it as “metal” may fool the 3 Doors Down and Nickelback crowd but anyone who has ever heard the heavy metal triumvirate of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden knows otherwise. To put things in perspective, The Showdown would be akin to the opening band you would hear from the beer line on a three-act bill with Saliva and 3 Doors Down. Ugh…I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.
KILLER KUTS: “Fanatics and Whores,” “Head Down,” “Six Feet Under,” “I, Victim (Here’s To The Year),” “Death Finds Us Breathing”