The Showdown is a Southern metal band based in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Since early 2011, they have been on an indefinite hiatus.
Their most recent album, Blood In The Gears, represents the band down to its DNA, on the cellular level. Blood allows your body to survive. Gears make machines move. This rifftacular Tennessee band's gears are greased with the blood of their passion. And the end result is electrifying.
While The Showdown enjoyed a measure of success in past years, including a slot on Ozzfest 2007 and having the title track of 2008's Back Breaker appear in the film Legion as well as the sitcom Two And A Half Men, The Showdown continued to do things their way: without pretense and a whole truckload o' passion.
For Josh Childers, who previously wrote all of The Showdown's music, Blood In The Gears marked a significant left turn for him. He let the new members share in a bulk of the writing duties and responsibilities. "I did a lot less writing for this record," he admitted. "I wrote 90-95 percent of everything beforehand. This time, I have Jeremiah and Patrick writing riffs and arranging. I came into the process late and did more arranging and lyrics. They gave me more than enough material to work with." It wasn't any sort of changing of the guard in The Showdown camp; rather, it was a change of pace and new infusion of blood to course through those gears, with the band's signature, Southern metal sound firmly intact and in place.
It was an unorthodox approach, but then again, The Showdown, like Ol' Blue Eyes, are content with doing things their way. "We have reached a pinnacle of doing things our way, internally within the band with this album," Childers said. "There was not even a consideration of pressure from anywhere else. We're not doing this because we want to be told what to do. I'd just work a 9 to 5 and make more money if I wanted that. We are not a slave to wage."
Childers admits that lyrically, The Showdown's first album, 2004's A Chorus of Obliteration boasted "Bible stories made metal" and that 2007's Temptation Come My Way was "more internal." He attests to 2008's Back Breaker being "all over the place," but says Blood In The Gears is themed around the concept of the empire in history and the bad things it does to a culture. "It's the classic comparison of America to the fall of Rome," Childers said. "The central authority tends to distort and then have a revolution with the right intentions but when you centralize power, and it's not personal, it is bad for people in general and makes you less human. You become part of an empire, giving up more power to be more of a slave and less human. Dave and I really have something to say. It's not whining about breaking up with a girlfriend, but it's more world themes and represents a change in mindset. The whole theme is that we are the blood in the gears of the machine, that which greases the gears."
Nearly every song has a solo, and there ain't nothing wrong with that. Judge even admitted, "This album is influenced heavily by Southern rock, like Pantera. With this record, we all listened to Pantera, Down, Black Label Society. You are supposed to ride a motorcycle while listening to this."
Scott, who worked with the band as a producer before he was a member, was able to contribute music and to help foster the sound on the album now that he was actually in The Showdown officially. "They were jumping styles each record," he said. "This is just heavy Southern metal. It is not super thrashy or detuned or fast, or poppy. We just wrote heavy, Southern metal. It can have singing or screaming. It can be catchy or not catchy. Whatever the case, it's just heavy Southern metal that hits the nail on the head."
The album's opening song, "Man Named Hell", was partially written by Scott's Harley-Davidson motorcycle. "We wrote the song, recorded the bike, and started to write riffs to the looping of the exhaust. After trying at it for a bit, Patrick realized that we had a similar riff in one of our demos. There was already an entire song attached to the riff so basically the Harley picked a tune out from our demos to be made into the intro for the album’s first song,” Scott said. Not many bands can lay claim to a motorcycle dictating and morphing into a riff, but The Showdown aren't like every other heavy rock band from the South.
The old saying is "American by birth, Southern by the grace of God." For The Showdown, it's more like "Southern by birth, metal by the Grace of God." Blood In The Gears demonstrates that fact from start to finish.