Showbread is Showdead
Release Date: January 8, 2016
Everything returns to the beginning. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Showbread is no different.
2003 was the year that I fell in love with two bands fronted by dueling frontmen. One was Seattle’s The Blood Brothers who released their fantastic …Burn, Piano Island, Burn. The other was Atlanta’s Showbread. Billed by many as ‘The Christian Blood Brothers’ I was instantly infatuated with their debut LP Life, Kisses, and Other Wasted Efforts. It was a record that was VERY influenced by the Blood Brothers but was still awesome in its own right. A year later, and now on a much bigger budget Showbread released No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical and started defining their own sound with keyboards driving the songs as much as guitars. Two years after that Showbread would release their magnum opus. The album that would set the standard for what they could be, 2006’s amazing Age of Reptiles. It was this record that truly showed the band step out from The Blood Brothers shadow and become a band with a sound all their own. A synthy blend of post-hardcore, 80’s new wave and punk rock that deserved a name all it’s own. Raw Rock*.
Now 10 years (and 5 records) later Showbread has returned with their best record since Age of Reptiles. Unfortunately, as the title Showbread is Showdead implies, it is also to be their last. Key elements of Showbread’s sound have returned for this record, not the least of which is co-vocalist Ivory Mobley’s return to the band. The trading of screams between Mobley’s deeper throaty scream and Josh Dies’ shrill shriek adds an element of complexity to Showbread’s sound that hasn’t been heard since Mobley left the band. The opening track “I Am Horrible at Processing Rejection” and the track “My Shadow is a Bat” are great examples of how well this vocal duality can work for Showbread. “My Shadow is a Bat” is one of my favorite tracks on the record with it’s dancy breakdowns and breakneck pace during the verses.
This is the first record that Showbread has recorded as a 7 piece since No Sir. This large format band actually narrows the bands focus into more of a cohesive sound than the band's last few records have been. Setting aside the closing tracks this album rips from start to finish. Another interesting feature of this record is that a lot of clean vocals are done by guest female vocalists instead of Mobley/Dies. Tracks like “Why Shouldn’t We Kill Ourselves?” and “Harry Harlow and the Monkeys of Despair” are greatly enhanced by this additional layer of the vocal complexity. It something not frequently done in punk rock and this record really makes me question why it isn’t. “Legacy of Skubalon” sounds like it could have come right from “Age of Reptiles” and does show how Dies can still sing. “Nine Weeks, Four Days: The Fetus Develops Teeth” shows another element of the Showbread mix as their first (and more than likely only) instrumental track.
Never ones to shy away from controversy with the mainstream church, Showbread takes another punch with their danciest track ever “Dear John Piper (Stillbirth in Space)”. It’s a tough pill to swallow for those who believe in the theology of Predestination asking how God could allow children to suffer amongst other things. Elsewhere on “Raw Rock Theology” the band takes a shot at those who would not adhere to the bands pacifist policies. The album’s title-track tackles Christian artists singing lyrics that they don’t actually feel. It’s a very introspective song through the build over a Tron-like synth bed before exploding into a chorus that is one of the best things Showbread ever recorded.
Showbread is Showdead closes with the typical Showbread neo-hymn “Life After Life After Death”. It’s a fitting closure to an amazing bands career closing with the lyric “Follow Jesus with your heart/love him every way”. There’s nothing more than that that needs to be said for this amazing record. The vinyl is sadly sold out, but would be worth every penny if it were re-pressed.
* Showbread has been using this term for their music from the start.
Reviewed by Rob 1340