Blood in the Gears, the fourth full length release by Solid State Records/Tooth and Nail artist The Showdown is a type of musical dichotomy. The album starts out as a typical hardcore/metal-core album (although with growls that can be understood on the first listen to the untrained ear), then they abruptly switch gears and turn into a Southern Metal/80's Metal Band a la Disciple or Messiah Prophet.
The album begins with it's hardcore best song as they exhort us to "take back the crown from the man named hell", but then remind us that heavy lies the crown, so they urge us to bring it down.
The Showdown proceeds to do just that by shifting to low gear for The almost country sounding Take Me Home and the title cut, a brief return to hardcore with Dogma Enthroned and the hybrid Hardcore/80's No Escape, which I can best describe as Stryper meets Living Sacrifice. Back to full blown Hardcore with The Crooked Path and Graveyard of Empires.
The final track is where the listener really gets thrown for a loop. Diggin' My Own Grave starts out as an acoustic country ballad a la Desperado and then, after the first two verses in comes the most melodic metal you have ever heard.
I often make fun of master tracks, the music only CD's people buy to Sing Karaoke style, but if you could strip out all the vocals on this album, it would be an instrumental masterpiece. If you can't enjoy this melodic guitar driven metal, you're probably dead.
On my first listen I tweeted that I gave this CD Five of Five Emeralds. After several listens I haven't changed my opinion in any way, except to say that it's a pity the scale only goes up to five. A Strong Contender for the Platinum Vinyl Awards in Rock for 2010. Buy the latest from The Showdown for a "blood"y good time.