Cattle Decapitation

Death Atlas

Written by: RUB on 16/12/2019 21:57:12

I’m probably what you would call a fairly new fan of Californian death grind group Cattle Decapitation. My knowledge of the band before their critically acclaimed “The Anthropocene Extinction” from 2015 was little to none, apart from the gore-ish album covers seen in magazines, various reviews and sites and the very NSFW-video to “Forced Gender Reassignment”. Nevertheless, I have considered myself a massive fan ever since, because not only did that album leave an irreversible mark on my extreme metal-conscious, but also pushed my perception and understanding of what and how extreme metal could sound like. Back at it with their newest opus “Death Atlas”, I was eager to find out whether they were able to continue their onslaught and stay at the absolute top of their game, or if we have already witnessed their masterpiece.

My initial thoughts are that it’s a fairly long album, to say the least, for an album affiliated with grindcore (nearing the 1-hour mark), but I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Quick note, this is mainly due to the album containing several spoken intermezzos and/or intros revolving around the album subject at hand. After one of these short intros, “The Geocide” could begin (badam-tsch). This is probably best described as a beast of a track as it right from the first beat blasts thunderous drumming courtesy of David McGraw straight into your ears. Travis Ryan’s harsh but fairly decipherable growls chime in and makes the track as brutal as ever. But as any ‘Cattle fan should be accustomed to by now, the track also has a more melodic edge to it. Although Ryan won’t use the term himself (just wanted to get that out of the way), I have no better way to describe it myself, as he utilizes the other part of his vocal in the chorus, which simply underlines why he is one of the best extreme metal vocalists out there. That, coupled with a more melodic instrumental side, and “Death Atlas” is off to a good and fresh yet familiar start, which also pays homage to their continuative focus on the negative consequences mankind have on the environment with the lyrics: “Fuck the future; Fuck all mankind” at the very end.

And this is the general idea which ‘Cattle have gone with on “Death Atlas”. It should come as no surprise that it’s their lyrical universe of choice, just look at both the very descriptive album cover (perhaps not as graphical as some of their precious ones, but still gets the point across just fine) and even the song titles. So, a few tracks into the record, everything seems like a continuation of “The Anthropocene Extinction”, and this in my book is good for a few reasons. Firstly, the overall sound of said album was just so much over-the-top when it came to extremity, songwriting and individual ability, so why not go with it again? Secondly, this obviously still revolves around a concept (although I wouldn’t call it a concept album per se), but the issue at hand is so important and dear to the band that it just makes the point seem that more strengthened, genuine and vibrant. Finally, the song writing. Clearly, these guys know how to write extreme metal. The song structure of almost every song evolves so much both in the little details, insane riffing or even a jaw-dropping drum patterns, and manages to switch up and down in tempo with ease, without sacrificing any elements of extreme metal. Take for example “Vulturous”, which I currently have running in my headset. The twists and turns, progression and build-up/breakdown-parts are simply mesmerizing; this track has it all, and in great quantities. That’s one extreme metal banger right there!

As the album nears half, ‘Cattle bring forth the truly heavy artillery. Arguably the two best tracks, also the two singles before release, is positioned back-to-back on the album. With “One Day Closer to the End of the World” and “Bring Back the Plague”, we not only see ‘Cattle mix in some infectious melody and groove into the otherwise extreme grindcore, but also some of the best riffs and drum patterns are on offer here. I urge every fan of the genre to stop reading, and go check those two tracks out for yourselves (if you haven’t already), because I’m uncertain if any words do them justice, perhaps with the exception of “masterful” and “perfection”. Before this gets out of hand (sorry, this has probably already happened), I want to make a quick note about the last track; the self-titled one. Clocking in at a monstrous 9 minutes, this is sort of the odd thumb out. But then again, it contains everything the entire album has tried to do. An epic progressive ride with ups and downs, twist and turns that perfectly sums up the idea of this album. With the repetition of the words throughout the track: “There’s no fear for tomorrow when there’s no trust for today; There’s no ever after, debts have to be paid; We deserve everything that’s coming; We took this world to our graves” the album ends on a very serious, bleak yet strangely melancholic and beautiful note, which eventually ends with a fade into nothingness. How bizarre for a band otherwise known for their extremity.

And that’s pretty much how it goes. To me, this is probably as close as it gets. I know the band have released seven full-length prior to this one, and amongst those “Monolith of Inhumanity” stand as the clear pinnacle to many. To me, “The Antropocene Extinction” is still the best in my book, but with “Death Atlas” they come dangerously close of topping it. I cannot name a single bad song on the album apart from the unanimous intro/intermezzos-tracks, but those are only on the album to help tell the story present. I’ve read how some people find this album rather tedious and repetitive when compared to their former glory (don’t fix what’s not broken etc. etc.), but as mentioned in an earlier paragraph, I don’t see why you would want to change anything in your sound, when you still sound this fresh and vibrant in a genre such as extreme metal. The complexity of the songs mixed with such an amount of extremity, groove, and dare I say it again, melody, makes Cattle Decapitation one of a kind in the extreme metal landscape today, and makes it hard to choose which songs are actually the best on offer on “Death Atlas”.


Download: Bring Back the Plague; One Day Closer to the End of the World; The Geocide; Vulturous; Death Atlas; With All Disrespect
For the fans of: Dying Fetus, Cephalic Carnage, Aborted, Anaal Nathrakh, Benighted
Listen: Facebook

Release date 29.11.2019
Metal Blade Records

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