Cattle Decapitation: Monolith of inhumanity
21/05/12 || Pr0nogo
Cattle Decapitation is a band influenced by the older brutal death metal basics (Cephalic Carnage, Putrid Pile). They also tend to gravitate towards the fast-paced, ever-changing, fractured structuring evident in deathgrind (Aborted, Carcass), and fuse all of that together with the firm, raw kick to the jaw that is the band’s drumming style, very akin to that of Exhumed in some ways. The hardest thing to describe Cattle Decapitation, then, would be their sound. You can never imagine what this band sounds like; you have to hear it, and even then, you’d be hard pressed to come up with more words than “awesome”. I suppose that’s a good way to talk about “Monolith of Inhumanity”, the band’s latest and longest release, due to drop May 8th. The first thing I have to say about it is that it’s awesome.
The second thing I have to say about “Monolith” is that it adds several new layers of musical depth to the already-insurmountable amount of influences and parallels. For example, the technical riffing style present on “The Harvest Floor” is a tad more fleshed out on this album, appearing at length towards the middle of the album. Songs like “Gristle Licker” and “Projectile Ovulation” also feature a similar style of guitar structuring, even reminding listeners of Deicide’s spectacular 2011 effort “To Hell With God”. A good amount of speed and brutality meets with top-notch production and insane vocals, courtesy of Travis Ryan. This hallmark to their older sound is present in almost every song, and is rather refreshing when combined with what the band had become rather than sounding stale or contrived. One of the best examples of this sound are in songs like “Forced Gender Reassignment”, which ends on a massive, lengthy breakdown, and album opener “The Carbon Stampede”. I swear there’s a moment the drums go into 64th-note gravity blasts and the BPM boils over 350 or some other crazy, inconceivable occurrence. This band is just completely freaking insane. I love it.
While tracks like the aforementioned “Projectile Ovulation” might go as far as to include pitch-shifted vocals, all is not a mere reminder of the old with this Cattle Decapitation record. “Lifestalker” is the first big, sudden realisation that something had changed radically. It opens up like another fast-paced track, but then it slows down out of nowhere before exploding into a symphony of pseudo-clean vocals, slowed, gloomy drumming and melodic guitars. Cattle Decapitation added a twinge of melodic death into their sound; not only that, but it sounds good. The high vocals on “A Loving, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat” are also incredible, and are another indicator of change, but none can compare to the awe-inspiring sound of “The Monolith” and follow-up album closer “Kingdom of Tyrants”. If you’ve listened to The Harvest Floor’s title track, you’d expect this to be another creepy, moody instrumental that sets the scene for the last track. Instead, you get a slow instrumental beginning and a thought-provoking message from Travis Ryan’s surprisingly-enjoyable clean singing voice. Now, don’t get too excited; it isn’t an opera or anything, but the man has serious vocal talent. If you’re curious, “The Monolith” is the title of the slower track that precedes “Kingdom of Tyrants” in the band’s latest music video, so check that out on YouTube if you haven’t already.
What makes this album so incredible is the fact that they were fantastic to begin with. When I reviewed “The Harvest Floor”, I thought it was a very solid album and that Cattle Decapitation’s next effort would bring about a logical progression mixed with their usual brutal-as-your-mother sound. Boy, was I wrong. “Monolith of Inhumanity” is far better than any fan of the band could have possibly hoped for. There is literally no way anyone could have expected something this incredible from the band. The drumming is brutally vicious, yet carries just as much weight when it slows down to provide a different sound. The tracks actively dictate where the rest of the song goes, and definitely help the rest of the band’s sound mesh together. The guitars are a masterwork combination of deathgrind, technical death, and brutal death; their variety adds so much to the album’s listenability. The vocals of Travis Ryan blew me away with their ferocity alone, but the emotion and the weight of his tones and his message carry just as much meaning to me, if not more. The album is vicious, powerful, emotional, and for all intents and purposes, awesome.
A pure gem like this deserves a 10 out of 10.
1. “The Carbon Stampede”
3. “A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat”
4. “Gristle Licker”
10. “The Monolith”
11. “Kingdom of Tyrants”
- Released: 2012
- Label: Metal Blade Records
- Website: www.cattledecapitation.com
- Travis Ryan: vocals
- Josh Elmore: guitars
- Derek Engemann: bass
- David McGraw: drums
- 01. The Carbon Stampede
- 02. Dead Set On Suicide
- 03. A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat
- 04. Forced Gender Reassignment
- 05. Gristle Licker
- 06. Projectile Ovulation
- 07. Lifestalker
- 08. Do Not Resuscitate
- 09. Your Disposal
- 10. The Monolith
- 11. Kingdom of Tyrants