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Greetings! My name is Matthew, and I love to listen to all types of metal. I'm a high school English teacher and aspiring writer. I also write reviews for the Metal Utopia webzine!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Showbread - "Cancer" Review

Showbread - Cancer
Come & Live! Records
Genre:  Rock


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Link to complete lyrics
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Josh Dies (vocals, guitar)
Patrick Porter (bass guitar)
Garrett Holems (Synthesizer, guitar)
Drew Porter (drums)

Raw Rock is alive once more!  Longtime punk rock band Showbread has released a new album entitled Cancer on Come & Live! records.  This is their second release on the label.  Many fans were discouraged with the release of Who Can Know It?, in part because that record shed many of the punk rock elements that fans had expected in favor of an overall indie vibe.  Rest assured, though—fans of Age of Reptiles and The Fear of God will love this record like a young boy loves his puppy.  Yes, it’s that much fun.
While Showbread has never garnered much mainstream success, their unique outlooks and memorable choruses have always set them apart from other bands.  Cancer is no exception—one can find everything from political (or perhaps anti-political) rants to futuristic explorations on the new science-fiction themed album.  Of course, the band also isn’t afraid to put their faith on the table, so to speak, although they often do so in unique ways and have garnered the disapproval of some critics.  Cancer equally juxtaposes science-fiction themes and questions deep theological inquiries on songs like “Sex with Strangers.”  I usually don’t post long portions of lyrics into a review, but I feel it is crucially important in understanding the outlook of Showbread, whose existence is part political resistance, part religious exploration, and part raw rock.

Our ship is enveloped by the shadow
of the spaceship that’s adrift overhead
It cuts through the cosmos like we through the sea
on solemn sails of stoic lead
Soon will they descend on us like fissured masks of clouded jewels,
and I proclaim that I’m lord of myself and become the lord of fools

The crowns that sing the song of sirens, drifting shadows in the deep
Anticipating our arrival like eyes within its murky keep

Do you have a hand in it?
Is yours the only hand in it?
Are we to believe there's really no evil, it’s just made to look like it?
Do you have a hand in it?
Is yours the only hand in it?

And I can't help but wonder if we were helpless to resist
Is a God that is so sovereign also a God that takes no risks?
I am haunted by the specter of possibilities escaping

The song goes on to question the arguments of theologians such as Calvin and Luther and matters of predestination:  “If my actions are all orchestrated according to holy design, why is it that all wars, gas chambers and the raping of women are not divine?”  Needless to say, it’s not every band that can talk about spaceships and ethics in the same breath.  While the music on the album itself is energetic, the lyrics take some digesting.

            Now that we’ve explored a few of the lyrical themes that the album brings forth, let’s move on to the music that is on Cancer.  There’s no doubt that Josh Dies is in fine form, and his voice is certainly one that has subtly improved with the years.  Patrick Porter, on the bass since day one, still pumps out thumping and driving bass lines.  Drew Porter holds down the rhythm section admirably, and Garrett Holmes puts out some smashing melodies with the guitar.  Holmes is also the man behind the synthesizer, which has always given Showbread a unique sound.  Two of the standout tracks on the album are the introduction track “I’m Afraid That I’m Me” and the lengthy “You Will Die in a Prison.”  The first song is a foot-tappin’, knee slappin’, jump-out-of-your-seat rock anthem that instantly catches the listener’s attention.  “You Will Die in a Prison” is a song that brings to mind the track “Age of Reptiles.”  There aren’t any strange lizard metaphors in this song, but it is a lengthy feature with goodly portions of melody that slowly builds in strength and design.  In fact, this is the immediate strength of Cancer.  The band has melded some of the elements from their last record with the punk aspects of their past and a more mature offering is the result.  Changes in tempo, crescendos, and a more varied song structure are a few of the things that convince me that Showbread is at last realizing their full potential.
            Of course, there are some downsides to the album.  The overall theme is a bit strange (the cover art featuring a thin young woman with ravenous jaws).  Yet that’s not really the issue—cancer is disturbing, so I would expect an album of its namesake to be disturbing as well.  In a few portions of the album, there isn’t enough originality to separate one song from another.  The elements within songs are varied, but these songs are not always varied from each other.  Notable exceptions are the two tracks I mentioned above and “Two-Headed Monster.”  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there are sections that should be more inspiring than they are.  This could just be a matter of listening to the album more, but at the most it demotes Cancer from a great album to only a good album. 
            All in all, there are many things to enjoy here for both metal and rock fans.  Cancer is a unique album filled with spaceships, tumors, and Kingdom-come rhetoric.  I guarantee that even if you don’t come back to Cancer again and again, it is a record worthy of your time.  Best of all, you can download the album for free from the Come & Live! records site.  According to the band, there are also plans to release the album with a full-length movie.  Long live raw rock!          

Overall rating:  7.3 out of 10.0 (Excellent)
Musicianship:  8.0 out of 10.0 
Song structure:  7.0 out of 10.0
Album structure:  7.0 out of 10.0


How did I come up with my rating?  I rate the following categories:  musicianship, song structure, and album structure.  I then take an average of these three scores and come up with an overall rating.

1.0-2.9 (Poor:  musicianship is poor, song structures are haphazard, no directional flow)
3.0-4.9 (Good:  musicianship is sloppy, song structures are undeveloped, flow is hampered)
5.0-6.9 (Average:  musicianship is adequate, song structures are good, flow works most of the time)
7.0-8.9 (Excellent:  musicianship is very good, song structures are thought out, songs connect well)
9.0-9.9 (Superior:  musicianship is superb, song structures are varied, flow is almost flawless)

Note:  Ratings may be given in increments of 0.1 for a final score (rounded up) and 0.5 for individual category scores.  I will never give a rating of 10.0 because I do not believe that any one album can be "perfect," and the ratings at either end of the spectrum will be very few.

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1 comment:

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