The Showdown: Blood in the Gears

Now that they've found their sound, the Tennessee group intensifies their Southern metal and thrash fusion to create their strongest album yet.

The Showdown

Blood in the Gears

Label: Solid State
US Release Date: 2010-08-24
UK Release Date: 2010-08-24
Artist website

The Southern metal scene does not often cross paths with the Christian metal world, but there are some bands that choose to embrace both groups, despite their seeming disconnect. The two leading bands in this group are Tennessee's The Showdown and Georgia's Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, and both bands add some modern metal elements into their sound to create a fairly unique blend. However, The Showdown leans more towards the Southern metal side of things than any of their contemporaries; evidenced by their sophomore album, Temptation Come My Way, a straightforward Southern rock mostly devoid of screaming or breakdowns. Their third album, 2008's Back Breaker, achieved an excellent fusion of melodic and aggressive elements, earning them widespread acclaim and recognition for finding their stride. Now back on the scene with Blood in the Gears, The Showdown is out to prove just how diverse and multi-faceted their sound can be.

One listen to Blood in the Gears is all it takes to understand why frontman David Bunton refers to The Showdown as "straight-up Tennessee dude metal" at their live shows. This album is jam-packed with thick, meaty guitar riffs and groove-laden drumming by Demon Hunter skinsman Tim "Yogi" Watts (who was only part of The Showdown during the recording of this album). The influences of Pantera and Kyuss are unmistakable in the groove parts of the album, but there are lots of classic thrash and NWOBHM influence as well. The guitar riffs have Iron Maiden gallops in abundance, while the solos are reminiscent of early Metallica and Megadeth in their technicality.

With all these influences, one might think that Blood in the Gears would become a chaotic, jumbled mess of parts that doesn't connect. That is not the case at all, though. This album has a masterful flow and very smooth transitions between and within songs. The grouping of faster songs "Heavy Lies the Crown" and "Bring it Down" before the soulful and slow-moving "Take Me Home" is a beautiful exercise in contrast, extended even further moving into the groove-infused title track. And just when it seems like the album has shown every facet of its music, the crooning, heart-felt closing track "Diggin' My Own Grave" comes in and adds a whole new dimension to the sonic palette. This track starts off acoustically, and could have become a full-on country ballad if not for the surprising electric riff that hits at the 1:40 mark, transitioning the song into a metal power ballad until its ending. Delivering such an unexpected, yet immensely potent song is a great way to end an already-strong album.

Lyrically, Blood in the Gears departs from the epic battle themes and mythology of Back Breaker, and there is definitely a more obvious spiritual aspect to this album. However, the intensity in Bunton's lyrics enhances the authority and drive of this album to even greater levels. Discussing real-life applications of spirituality and belief in a decidedly anti-religious world, Bunton takes a much harsher approach to the lyrics than most of his contemporaries. Many of the songs criticize worldly excess and irresponsibility, while projecting a bleak future if no changes are made. Clearly, Bunton got some inspiration from Living Sacrifice vocalist Bruce Fitzhugh in the lyrics, as Fitzhugh has always taken a strong stance against societal rejection and condemnation of religion.

Blood in the Gears will stand as a pinnacle in The Showdown's career because they have both cemented their sound and managed to experiment with new ideas and influences at the same time. It may have taken two albums with completely disparate sounds and a third that combined them to reach this point, but fans of the band can definitely say that it was worth the wait. If Back Breaker was the realization of The Showdown's balance and potential, then Blood in the Gears is the extension and mastery of those two things. From here, they can choose to add new influences or simply strengthen and perfect their existing ones. The sky is the limit now for these Tennessee believers.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.