Cattle Decapitation have been on a roll the last couple of albums. Since the release of Karma. Bloody. Karma., each album they’ve released has been bigger and better, all while expanding their sound and style. The Harvest Floor blew my mind when it came out. It was everything I had ever wanted from a death metal band. Then Monolith Of Inhumanity happened, and completely destroyed everything I had ever thought about death metal. They started adding melodies into both music and vocals while stepping outside of the Carcass worship lyrics. Travis Ryan started writing lyrics that started to hit me close to home, lyrics about human beings ruining everything they touch, especially the Earth. Monolith Of Inhumanity is one of the crowning achievements of metal, in my opinion.
Now, with the release of The Anthropocene Extinction, Cattle Decapitation has again released an album full of complete contempt for humanity. A concept album (sort of) all about how people have destroyed the oceans, the album is the best thing Cattle Decapitation have put fourth. They took everything that worked about Monolith Of Inhumanity and created something incredible. It may have taken around 20+ listens for it all to unfold to me, but once it did, it clicked hard.
Musically, it’s what you’ve come to expect from Cattle Decapitation. Fast, technical, and brutal. But this time they’ve added some more melody, especially in the guitar work. There are some black metal riffs even thrown into the mix that add a new element to their sound. The riffs in general are catchy and do something that a lot of technical death metal bands can’t do: write songs that stick with you after the song stops. A perfect example of this is towards the end of ‘The Prophets Of Loss’. The guitars, especially in combinations with Ryan’s “clean” vocals, create one of my favorite moments on the album (“we fucking die tonight, and that’s perfectly alright with me!”)
Speaking of the vocals, Ryan is the best he’s ever been. Adding a lot more of the “clean” vocals (I’ve heard he hates when people use that term since they’re still pretty harsh), it makes the vocals pop out more than previous albums. He’s always had his own style and basically never really sounds like anyone else, but he’s in top form here. Lyrically, as well. Focusing more on his hatred for mankind, it’s easy to see where he’s coming from and see that he’s calling human beings out on their bullshit and willingness to ignore what they’re doing to the Earth. “How can you look me in the eyes and tell me you’re proud of what you’ve done within this life? Ignoring the trash heap that is our daily lives, a disparaging wasteland, a hell on Earth paradigm. Extinction level living- the fate of all unwinds. Too ignorant, too selfish to read the warning signs” from ‘Not Suitable For Living’ sums it all up perfectly.
If there is one flaw with the album, it’s the same as with Harvest and Monolith: the drums. I very much dislike the snare sound on their last couple of albums. It’s not a major qualm, but enough that it takes me out of the experience sometimes. That being said, David McGraw is absolutely the best drummer Cattle Decapitation has ever had.
The Anthropocene Extinction will no doubt be very high on my end of year list. The more and more I listen to it, the better it gets. It may not be the big leap we have gotten between Karma and Harvest or Harvest to Monolith, but it’s where Cattle Decapitation have been heading for a long time and I’m beyond excited that they’re finally there. It seems like they’ve hit this massively creative point and I for one am fine with them wallowing around in it for awhile. Hell, most death metal bands never develop past the sound they had on their first album. 15+ years on (let that sink in for a minute) and Cattle Decapitation are still pushing themselves into new directions and I for one am very excited for what they have coming down the line.
Album Highlights: The Prophets of Loss, Circo Inhumanitas, Mammals In Babylon, Not Suitable For Life, Pacific Grim.
You can pick up The Anthropocene Extinction at their Bandcamp