Job For A Cowboy’s ‘Moon Healer’ is a welcome boot in the face! The iconic experimental death metal band returns with 8 tracks of what I’m calling “sci-metal”: a raucous mix of psychedelic space imagery (the radical album cover) and dystopian/other worldly lyrical themes inspired by Dick, Poe and other famous writers.

Back in the day, alongside my obsession with bands like Whitechapel and Suicide Silence, Job For A Cowboy were also in heavy rotation. Albums ‘Genesis’ (2007) and ‘Ruination’ (2009), with their themes of microchipped peoples, corrupt political machines and religious bollocks, resonated heavily with a young Connor with his spotty head and lust for the brightest, skinniest jeans money can get. They’re a nostalgic group for me and I respect them tremendously. After ten years away from the studio, the Arizona group are as relevant as ever and my respect for them has amazingly grown.

Like its predecessor ‘Sun Eater’ (2014), this album is uncompromising, sharp and fun to listen to. Job For A Cowboy genuinely made my recent mornings more bearable with duelling guitars, bone crushing drums and as ever, passionate vocals. Starting with “Beyond The Chemical Doorway”, it conjures up images of flies and cockroaches scurrying and frolicing over freshly sourced skulls. Space skulls… obviously. Track 2 “Etched In Oblivion” provides more of the same with guttural vocals and a ride cymbal swing. There’s no letting up and I like it.

I’m no musician or music theorist but there certainly seems to be more experimentation with time signatures on this record. Reminds me of Arsonists Get All The Girls and Cardiacs all at the same time. There’s a feeling of pushing the sound, making sure every note is crisp and impactful, even if it’s embroiled in a chaotic song schematic.

“Grinding Wheels Of Ophanim” and “The Sun Gave Me Ashes So I Sought Out The Moon” continue to delight with some strangely funky bass parts that aren’t just low end thuds or chugs. It’s refreshing to hear the bass on a modern metal album that actually offers something more technical and interesting. Again, I’m no Robert Christgau, but there appears to be a lot of technicality in every instrument here. ‘Moon Healer’ is jam packed with almost mind blowing musical majesty that my monkey brain can’t possibly manifest into a manageable method. In more normal words, I haven’t a clue how they’re playing this shit.

I’m not saying it’s jazz but the phrase “prog death metal” springs to mind, especially feeling the same themes and concepts washing over you. The effort and time put into this album can clearly be heard from start to finish. There’s a real sense of pride due to the expansion of the JFAC toolbox and it’s really satisfying to hear. My favourite cut is probably “The Agony Seeping Storm” which is epic and unrelenting. The vocals from Jonny Davy in particular are fantastic. Such a great range. He is a stellar death metal vocalist and is certainly up there with the best like Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation). Sadly, no relation.

Like Slift’s latest record ‘Ilion’ (2024), this album also gives me the feeling of “FUCK YEAH DUDE, THAT RULES!” ‘Moon Healer’ is a record I can positively experience over and over again and in quick succession too. Probably the most addictive album I’ve heard thus far in 2024, every track is amazing. It’s like the perfect soundtrack to a gruesome space warzone. You know, real war hammer shit; with a smidge more intelligence.

Job For A Cowboy: Moon Healer – Out 23rd February 2024 (Metal Blade Records)

for a Cowboy – Beyond the Chemical Doorway (Official Video) (

Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC