Cattle Decapitation

The Anthropocene Extinction

Written by: AP on 06/01/2016 21:26:08

It tends to be a risky business to make assertions about a band’s future prospects, but nonetheless, it is tempting to hypothesise that Cattle Decapitation might be on their way to becoming the next mainstream darling from the extreme metal community — death metal’s equivalent of Deafheaven or Tombs, if you will. The irony, should this actually come to pass, is that one needs not look too deep into the San Diego, CA quartet’s discography (anything prior to 2012’s “Monolith of Inhumanity”, really) to discover a band about as suited for popular adoration as Pier Paolo Pasolini’s cult film “Salò”. Unless of course song titles like “Bukkake Tsunami” and “Joined at the Ass”, and album art featuring a human-shaped mass of goo spewing from a cow’s arse suddenly became the hottest property on a connoisseur’s shelf.

Cattle Decapitation would do well not to advertise such ‘classics’ now, having exchanged the demonic fart humour and pornographic gore theme for a rather more intelligent conceptual framework that dealt with the bleak future faced by Earth if mankind continues its current, unsustainable way of life on the aforementioned record. One which they continue to explore on this seventh album, “The Anthropocene Extinction”, which as its title and artwork imply, focuses on the ultimate repercussions of our disastrous influence on the environment, as well as our reckless abuse and consumption of animals. The protest is neatly wrapped in a clinical production by Dave Otero, and issued through a selection of songs that are deceptively catchy, yet retain the uncompromising brutal style for which Cattle Decapitation is famed; resulting in a piece of music which is not just hugely relevant, but also radically different to your typical output from the deathgrind scene.

Make no mistake though; despite the abundant melodic flourishes and — gasp — weirdly intriguing clean singing in places, “The Anthropocene Extinction” is by no means designed to satisfy the faint of heart. Even in its most accessible takes, such as the opening track “Manufactured Extinct”, the intention seems rather to be to establish a hairline balance between utter devastation, engaging mid tempo grooves, and atmospheric melodies that sit glued to the seat in the fabric of your memory the moment you hear them. Both “The Prophets of Loss” (wherein Philip H. Anselmo of Down makes a cameo) and “Plagueborne” are choice examples in this regard, delivering pandemonium galore in the vein of, say, Aborted or Dying Fetus, yet reaching further than either of those bands by virtue of daring. Daring to diverge from what is expected of them, that is, through the measured deployment of melody. It is as though Cattle Decapitation realised the weight of their message necessitates an agnostic approach to writing music; that rhetoric like “We’ll fucking die tonight, and that’s perfectly alright with me” had to be sung and the instrumental onslaught dampened into an apocalyptic melody, lest the gravity of the underlying message be lost in double pedal pummel and layered growls, gargles and shrieks.

Besides, “The Anthropocene Extinction” contains more than enough antidote to these elements that some are prone to call blasphemies. Death metal purists will rejoice in the bludgeoning inflicted upon them by the well syncopated “Circo Inhumanitas” and the seething insanity of “Mutual Assured Destruction” among others, whilst those with a more liberal attitude toward conventions should revel in the nigh perfect marriage between sections so fast and twisted one wonders whether Dave McGraw on the drums might be an actual machine, and passages where the anchor is cast so as to facilitate the total immersion of the listener in the alarming premonitions Cattle Decapitation are hoping to convey. And it works. After a thought process à la Why does this work? and How does this work?, one arrives at the astonishing conclusion that somehow, creations such as the breathtaking finale “Pacific Grim” manage simultaneously to be profound, grandiose, contagious, and about as forgiving as a meat grinder.

By reigning in the excess fidgeting the four musicians — vocalist Travis Ryan, guitarist Josh Elmore, bassist Derek Engemann and the already mentioned drummer Dave McGraw — are prone toward, and focusing instead on atmosphere and narrative, Cattle Decapitation have generated an intelligent and cohesive, though no less wild piece of music in league with Meshuggah’s “obZen” or Gojira’s “L’Enfant Sauvage”. It is not their most groundbreaking output to date — “Monolith of Inhumanity” claims that honour — but by any other measure “The Anthropocene Extinction” is superior to its predecessor, and indeed far superior to virtually anything else that the death metal genre has spawned this year. Might as well go ahead and dub the band deathheaven.

Download: The Prophets of Loss, Plagueborne, Mammals in Babylon, Pacific Grim
For the fans of: Aborted, Dying Fetus, Skinless, Suffocation
Listen: Facebook

Release date 07.08.2015
Metal Blade Records

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