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Work for It


By David King

Job for a Cowboy, A Life Once Lost, Despised Icon

Revolution hall, Aug. 14

Job for a Cowboy are Metaloca-lypse metal. They are the sort of band who introduce a song with little regard to pronunciation. It’s all in the guttural pig growl. It goes something like: “THIS NEXT SONG IS CALLED BARNCATSINHEAAATMAKEMEFEELFANCYFREEEEE!!”

Of course, none of their songs is actually called that. (They are not Fall Out Boy.) And while the band’s metal bravado is admirable in a lot of ways, the youngsters who make up the band have not been around long enough to deliver much more than just that—a sussed-up imitation of metal.

On Monday night at Revolution Hall, it became clear early on that the band’s performance would have been a great one if played in someone’s parents’ garage. Simply put, Job for a Cowboy got too big too quickly, before they could earn their headlining slot. And it was that damned MySpace that did it to ’em; too many friend requests too quickly for this solid act who needed time to refine their chops at the bottom of the bills before sitting atop ones so stacked with metal goodness.

So, instead of finishing off the night with Despised Icon, Montreal’s finest death- metal-core export, who rallied the crowd around multilayered technical beatdowns, or with veterans A Life Once Lost, Philadelphia’s kings of pit implosion, Job for a Cowboy puttered along with their mishmash guitar work—a sound too forced to resemble anything more than just kids in the basement trying to outshred each other.

A Life Once Lost’s maturation process, however, was clearly on display. The band have become known as metal chameleons. Their first record was deeply inspired by Dillinger Escape Plan’s technical jazz metal; their second, A Great Artist, seemed like a stripped-down homage to Sweden’s polyrhythm masters, Meshuggah. Unfortunately, their last effort, Hunter, found the band toying around with the aesthetic of the very limited Lamb of God. (Let there be only one!) Frankly, A Life Once Lost are too talented to be a LOG rip-off, and it seems something may have finally clicked in the band’s collective conscience to tell them that.

Now assuming a very ’70s Southern-stoner-rock vibe, the band took the stage to moaning tribal chants with psychedelic images projected onto a screen behind them. While their last trip through town saw them awkwardly introducing songs from Hunter, this time the songs were crisp, delivered with the kind of emotion that drove the crowd out of their seats and into the pit. Songs from the band’s new long-player, Iron Gag, were like listening to Futurama’s Bender the robot getting drunk on moonshine and tripping on mescaline. Disjointed hillbilly grooves and twang collided with off-time playing and rigid beats, creating an entertainingly original sound.

Frontman Robert Meadows, with his sandals, ponytail and frizzy blond beard, stalked the stage like a feral Jim Jones. (I drank the Kool Aid.) He ended the set playing Ahab to the crowd’s Moby Dick, yanking back on the mic cord as the crowd devoured it in a feeding frenzy, singing, “I will haunt you till you die!”

Despised Icon proved they have mastered the art of combining technical metal with hardcore’s tough-guy chants and straightforward breakdowns to achieve something much more than the individual parts. Despite their brutality, the band’s music has become undeniably dancey, something you can’t not move your ass to. The show could have ended with the band’s floor-obliterating “In the Arms of Perdition” and I would have been both happy and lucky to have gotten out alive.

Las Fiestas

PHOTO: Leif Zurmuhlen

Between 10,000 and 12,000 people turned up to hear the surf-rock sounds of Los Straitjackets (pictured) and long-running Los Angelenos Los Lobos at last Thursday’s Alive at Five concert in Albany’s Riverfront Park. The Lobos were in town to promote their latest release, The Town and the City, while the Straitjackets are in the midst of a tour that takes them around the Northeast and through the Midwest over the next month. Tonight’s Celtic-themed concert is the final Alive at Five event of the season; it is, as always, a free show.



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