Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity

Goddamn, Cattle Decapitation just seems to get better and better with each release.  It’s pretty fuckin’ rare in music, especially in extreme metal that a band can age like a fine wine, but somehow these guys manage to pull it off.  Usually when a band wants to “experiment” what that generally translates to is “pussy out”, but not Cattle Decapitation.  They’ve been steadily including more and more progressive, genre bending elements to their particular brand of Goregrind meets Death Metal, miraculously making every addition feel completely at home.  But despite these new elements added to expand the scope of an admittedly rather limited genre that is gory death, the music hasn’t lost an ounce of intensity.  If anything, the last two Cattle Decapitation albums, The Harvest Floor and now this one, are MORE intense than ever before.  No small feat I’m sure, so I gotta give major props to these guys. 

Not only that, but anyone who has ever seen them live can tell you that these guys are a force to be reckoned with on stage, and can pull this material off with real panache. I love the demented facial expressions Travis Ryan busts out; somewhere between padded room insanity and dry heaving.  And the drumming is every bit as tight and utterly pummeling.

I know their last album even turned the heads of most of their detractors, and this one is going to continue to do the same.  I wasn’t sure if The Harvest Floor could be topped, but after listening to this CD about 20 times since I’ve bought it 5 days ago, I think I can safely say they’ve succeeded.  This shit is as downright infectious as flesh eating bacteria. Everything on this album is a step up: production, song writing, guest artists, variety, everything.  Even with a wider range of styles being compressed into this beast, I feel like this album has a bit better flow to it.  This is some technical fucking death metal, but every song is catchy, memorable, and stands on its own.  Frankly this album is a masterpiece of death metal that I’m not sure Cattle Decapitation is ever going to be able to top.  Anyone with even a passing interest in the genre NEEDS to check this out.

Travis Ryan’s vocal stylings are better than ever, he hits some of his most guttural lows here, with sections of songs sounding like pure bile gurgling brutal death metal, only to follow it up with a spine tingling blackened shriek, his trademark Jeff Walker style choked throat squeals, a gorier Glen Benton style roar and even clean vocals.  Yes Cattle Decapitation has added much more clean vocals into the mix this time around.  But this isn’t some flowery, romantic, Metalcore faggotry here, think Anaal Nathrakh’s more twisted vocal harmonies and you’re thinking in the right direction. Some of it actually reminds me a tiny bit of the vocals on some of the newer Mastodon stuff, of couse with am uch more sinister bent, just trust me on this one guys, it's really cool.

The unreal gravity blasting, technical drumming of David McGraw is back to beat you into a bloody pulp.  It’s unrelenting, given a nicely prominent, but not overwhelming presence in the mix, and tight as fucking hell.  Yeah, this shit is triggered to hell, but you can’t deny this is still fucking good shit, and the drums don’t sound really clicky and unnatural either which is nice.  He blasts like a madman in the grind and blackened parts, double bass assaults in the death metal passages, and you even get some heavy as fuck breakdowns which are tastefully used throughout the album to enhance some of the more guttural portions of some of the songs as opposed to being the whole song (looking at you Deathcore).  The drumming never simply follows a straight forward pattern either, this isn’t d-beat, blast, d-beat, blast, double bass, repeat type of shit here.  The drums follow the patterns of the guitar and bass perfectly which just makes every note that much more crushing.  This is a far cry from the really boring, annoyingly processed sounding drumming on their earlier material such as on To Serve Man (the drumming actually kind of ruins that album for me actually).

Josh Elmore fucking rips up the guitar with the best riffs and solos this band has put out yet.  I love the more prominent blackened style a lot of this material features as it makes the songs have more of an epic feel than most straight ahead death metal.  But that isn’t to say this isn’t still some gory death metal shit, and the combination of the two styles is a winning one for me, since those happen to be my favorite two genres!  It’s hard to believe its just one guy on the guitar, and I’m sure live they’ll need some additional personnel to pull this off, or worst case they’ll need to have some overdubs come into play.  Newcomer Derek Engemann, who replaces previous Troy Oftedal (how’d he get fat being a vegan exactly anyway?), tears up the bass following along flawlessly with the guitar.  And considering he plays via finger picking, it’s no small feat with material at these speeds.  I also see he contributed to the guitars on one of the tracks, so I guess it makes sense that he’d know how to play well with a guitar, since he can play one.

Guest artists on this album include the entire lineup of Cephalic Carnage for the first track The Carbon Stampede, as well as Lenzig (Cephalic Carnage frontman) laying down some ultra guttural gurgling on the track A Living, Breathing, Piece of Defecting Meat (with a title like that you simply can't go wrong).  Then the follow-up track to that, Forced Gender Reassignment, proves that Travis can be just as sick as the rest of brutal death metal with his intensely low gurgles in a breakdown that is the perfect example of how to do it right.  Fucking SICK!  You also get the mighty Mike Majewski, from Devourment, on the track Projectile Ovulation.  As expected he continues to deliver vocals that sound like he’s sucking his rectum out of his mouth hole that everyone with a masculine bone in their body should be all about.

The last three songs have a much heavier focus on the clean singing and blackened elements, and frankly fit together so well that I don’t think they should ever be listened to separately.  They’re a truly epic close to this album in a similar, but in my opinion superior manner to The Harvest Floor. That album had the atmospheric title track followed by the punishing Regret & The Grave which built on the atmospherics of the title track only to then unleash one of the most intensely blasting tracks on the album. This one does much the same with the track The Monolith building in intensity throughout and featuring a bleak, industrial soundscape that then explodes into the brutalizing Kingdom of Tyrants which starts off with a riff and blasting combo that will have people getting dismembered in the pit, only to switch gears to a scathingly epic blackened riff, finally topping things off with souring, yet still ferocious, melodic singing. But I just feel like the ninth track, Your Disposal fits together really well with these two as well. Try it, you'll like it.