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JOB FOR A COWBOY, ALL SHALL PERISH, ANIMOSITY, ANNOTATIONS OF AN AUTOPSY: BANDS THAT TOTALLY AREN’T DEATHCORE PLAY A DEATHCORE SHOW IN RHODE ISLAND

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JOB FOR A COWBOY, ALL SHALL PERISH, ANIMOSITY, ANNOTATIONS OF AN AUTOPSY: BANDS THAT TOTALLY AREN’T DEATHCORE PLAY A DEATHCORE SHOW IN RHODE ISLAND

Deathcore’s meteoric fall from subgenre of a subgenre to a word on par with “pedophile” in metal is almost comic in nature. Though this is by no means its first year of existence, it is its first year of prominence. While the violent shift in attitude could be attributed to the “everything popular sucks” mindset, it can also be contributed to the fact that, with such prominence, deathcore bands are already starting to get lazy. But either way, at a recent stop in Providence, RI, the Metal Sucks co-sponsored Job for a Cowboy/All Shall Perish/Animosity/Annotations of an Autopsy (sadly, no Hate Eternal on this stop, and my best wishes to Erik Rutan) tour, no band was willing to be tagged with the label, no matter how firmly they resided at the intersection of Death and ’Core. And despite the fact that deathcore may be old news in the metal blogosphere, there was no shortage of enthusiasm for it, reserved especially for the show’s headliners.

Even though the dismal, dismal weather and hour and a half wait for the show to start was certainly a handicap for the evening as a whole, once things began, the mood in the room was energetic. Due to interviewing/setting up interviews, I almost missed Annotations of an Autopsy. I did not, though, and was glad I didn’t. The band’s grimy slamfest ignited the room like flash paper, working quickly to dissolve the sour mood of the club’s cold, wet patrons. The band hails from England, a fact all too evident in the accent of “Sewer Mouth” Steve Regan making calls for blood before almost every song in a manner honed more for soccer matches than a deathcore (or not deathcore) show. The slow motion car crash of the band’s slam riffs painted them as an above adequate deathcore band, and an excellent start to the show. While by no means revelatory or inspiring, they were a lot of fucking fun.

After another long (or seemingly long, as I love Animosity) set-up time ensued, Animosity took the stage, performing a tight and wonderful set despite sound problems, as well as initially mistaking Rhode Island for New Hampshire (which is understandable as a touring band, but unforgivable to a New Englander). After walking onstage looking like just five dudes that love metal, the band exploded into a mess of hair, technical death metal riffing, and Animosity singer Leo Miller. Despite the crowd’s (arguably fucking criminal) indifference toward the band, they stayed spirited throughout, playing an Animal-heavy set that was proficient enough to match their recorded performance but spirited enough to exceed the sensation of simply listening to the record. They ended their set with an intense rendition of “A Passionate Journey,” complete with the hefty Pantera nod that closes out the song and the inspiring, Dimebag-worthy solo. Seeing Animosity made me angry that more people don’t like Animosity, as the crowd, confused by the band’s hairpin turns from riff to riff, found no place to mosh. Seeing a just few kids nod at the band’s feverish pace felt wasteful, as the band played just as solid and intense a set – if not more so – as any other band on the bill that evening.

The crowd’s apathy, however, all but vanished for All Shall Perish, whose vicious technical deathcore perfectly translated itself to a live setting. Frontman Eddie Hermida put forth a refreshing earnestness and genuine affection for the crowd, declaring himself an ardent Red Sox fan (which endeared him a little to even me) and professing his love of New England despite his San Francisco locale. Though All Shall Perish’s brand of deathcore doesn’t sit perfectly with me, they are consummate showmen, working perfectly in tandem with the intense throng of longhairs and skinny scene dudes shouting feverishly back at them. The band even took a breather to have the band’s two guitarists engage in a shred off three or so songs into the set, a cheesy move that still managed to pay off big. Though All Shall Perish’s brand of fun differed from that of Annotations of an Autopsy, they still managed to perform a perfectly watchable set, impressing even those not particularly fond of their music otherwise.

The show’s headliners, as well as clearly the main draw, were Arizona death metallers Job for a Cowboy. Say what you will about the band (and judging by the internet that birthed their popularity, many of you have), but people love Job for a Cowboy. Really, really love them. Despite the fact that they were headlining the show itself, dozens upon dozens of Job for a Cowboy shirts were present (almost as if Jeremy Piven’s advice of “don’t be that guy” to a dude about to wear a shirt of the band he was going to go see in PCU didn’t exist) on the backs of the sweaty, seemingly impatient throngs there to see them. I can’t think of a band with more angry, vocal detractors than them, and yet, it was clearly their show. The crowd – semi-active for AOAA, confused for Animosity, active for All Shall Perish – came alive like a pack of hyenas to an ocelot carcass when Job for a Cowboy played. In one of the most violent pits I’ve ever seen (due to space and sheer mass of people swinging elbows and expensive sneakers), metal dudes and hardcore kids engaged in nothing short of a bar brawl for… death metal. Just death metal.

This, of course, confounded me, as I’ve seen death metal bands that have played sets of very similar music to a crowd with their arms respectfully crossed or headbanging, but never the sort of intensity that was exhibited for the band’s set. Arguably, youth has almost everything to do with this, as Job for a Cowboy’s fan base is almost completely made up of younger folk, and the band members themselves are probably young enough to be Hate Eternal’s kids. In some ways, though, it was as inspiring as it was confounding, as Job for a Cowboy, for all the negative shit people can say (and have said) about them, are an excellent live band. The energy they have from not being bogged down with kids or massive debt allots them an intensity the older Lords of Death Metal can no longer exhibit. Frontman Jonny Davy gesticulates wildly like a manic preacher or someone being exorcised. The band churned on fiercely behind him, scowl-faced and blistering, playing the absolute minimum of breakdowns for a deathcore show. But the crowd ate it up anyhow, chanting when instructed, throwing up horns when things got heavy, and moshing to everything: breakdowns and slams were standard, but when the band kicked into hyperdrive, the floor was still a mess of fists, hair, and unreadable logos. I had to leave before the end of their set due to having to work at my non-metal means of employment the next morning, but even walking out the door, the adoration of Job for a Cowboy was still thick in the air. The buzz for them before the show was staggering – the opening bands name-checking JFAC usually received bigger cheers than the bands themselves – and the gaze of hundreds fixed firmly to Davy and his DM crew was nothing short of pure adulation.

The set was probably a perfect metaphor for deathcore as a whole (even despite Job for a Cowboy’s Genesis not really being a deathcore record at all): many of us hate it, but by no means is it fading. Perhaps the venom toward it, which accrued much more quickly than it did for metalcore, is rooted partially in the fact that death metal was one of the last bastions of metal that wasn’t tainted by mainstream aspirations or hardcore kids replacing headbanging with violence. But for the crowd pressed against the stage at Club Hell in Providence, Job for a Cowboy WAS death metal, as if the years of gristly-haired dudes in denim (or sweatpants) playing the same music had never existed. Death metal doesn’t belong exclusively to the old-timers or the esoteric anymore; it can serve as a gateway for hardcore kids bored with one note breakdowns and mid-paced d-beats into the world of metal, or what they think is metal. This is a fact now, not a point of debate. One can only hope that the young masses lusting for JFAC will find a way to the bands that inspired them instead of focusing on the bands around their age. But say what you will about Job for a Cowboy and/or deathcore: it isn’t going anywhere for a while.

-SO

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