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The Cowboys From Hell - Monster Rodeo CD (album) cover


The Cowboys From Hell


Eclectic Prog

3.05 | 3 ratings

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3 stars If nothing else the Cowboys From Hell certainly cover a lot of musical ground on this, their debut album. Or at least they do on the first few tracks; after that, the trio seem to settle into a bit of a pattern that probably reflects their relative inexperience as a recording act.

The group is Swiss but German leanings come through in the form of often heavy bass and guitar riffs; strident, almost shouted vocals (though after the opening "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Cow" there isn't a lot of singing); and a vague Krautrock mood in the overall production, again mostly on the songs that have vocals.

Beyond that the band owes a debt to Zappa and the Mothers as well as a bit of Velvet Underground as they mix rock instrumentation with cool jazzy brass, as well as extended instrumental pieces with a free-form feel punctuated by periods of heavy riffs and an almost post-rock vibe. The instrumental "Dunschtig" has a rhythm that's a cross between late seventies New-Wave and the President of the United States of America's mid-nineties hit "Lump" along with a maddeningly familiar saxophone arrangement that sounds a bit like the faux-jazz eighties band Group 87, which coincidently was formed by former Mothers touring members bassist Patrick O'Hearn and drummer Terry Bozzio.

"Schiller", "Lonesome Bill" and "Chrampf" are all based on fairly precise mathmatical jazz constructions with little improvisation, while "Halloween" gets funky with digitized effects atop a mostly drum-driven arrangement and "Cowboys against the Machine" is a heavier, quite Krautrock-sounding number with sometimes shouted vocals somewhat in the vein of the Velvet Underground/Zappa disciples Plastic People of the Universe. The closing "Iphigenia" seems to be almost completely improvised around saxophone and simple basslines.

The one really pleasant surprise is an engaging instrumental cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" (titled "Sounds of Silence" here) with saxophone and keyboards replacing guitar. In fact, it wasn't until this, the fourth track, that I realized there weren't any guitars on this album.

This is a really promising trio that plays a lot bigger than their numbers, and I'd really like to see something new from them in the near future. Based on their website the group seems to still be together and touring their region, but with no signs of newly recorded material. Too bad. A highly recommended album and a very solid three out of five star effort, maybe just shy of four stars.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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