Age of Reptiles
Georgia's Showbread appeared on Tooth & Nail in 2004 with the spastic, alt-screamo ambush of No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical. The guys — who boast, of all things, a keytar player in their ranks — haven't totally lost the convulsiveness of their past personality and continue to jerk listeners around on their follow-up, Age of Reptiles. Lyrically, the bandmembers still frankly disclose their Christian faith (i.e., the title track is a direct plea of sorts to Jesus), but include enough non-religious themes to avoid completely alienating their secular audience. However, Showbread deviate from the style they set forth on No Sir, making Reptiles an interesting but sometimes uneven listen. Their erratic energy feels more controlled, and instead of their old screamo tendencies (aka more singing!), Showbread tap into influences like Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana. As a result, Reptiles splinters into hard rock grooves, assertive post-punk swagger, probing synths, and ample amounts of distorted electro-rock fuzz. And even though a hard rock backbone is often present and the songs are very direct, it's almost like the bandmembers couldn't agree on an overall musical direction, so they just tried it all — from melodious pop/rock songs to tough-guy post-grunge bursts of force. The melodic sway of "Sing Me to Sleep" and the jangly "George Romero Will Be at Our Wedding" suggest that Showbread don't know much outside of straightforward rock, but then cuts like the grunge-crunch-spaz of "Oh! Emetophobia!," the industrial-tinged "Your Owls Are Hooting," and the whirling distortion and thick bass of "Pachycephalosaurus" come around and — well, is this really the same band? Though this stylistic roller coaster propels Age of Reptiles enjoyably enough, something is still needed (besides the abundance of reptilian allusions) to tie the whole record together. A worthy step forward from No Sir, but with a few kinks still to be smoothed out.