Review Summary: Cattle Decapitation release an album that is more than just senseless aggression
Other than garnering wide support in animal rights circles the world over, San Diego’s death metal/grind outfit Cattle Decapitation have accrued a sizeable amount of attention in the broader metal realm. One may not agree with their message – that’s not what I’m here to discuss – but it seems that their music has also created a schism between the incessant genre Nazis that lurk the depths of metal forums all around the internet. Not orthodox enough to be called grind and not focused enough to really be considered pure death metal, Cattle Decapitation straddle the gap between the two genres. Their latest offering Monolith of Inhumanity
is ferociously heavy and intense, and features the pacing of grind right alongside riffing and solos that would certainly feel at home in almost any death metal record. While some people may call foul and give undue hate to Cattle Decapitation for it, the two genres meld well in the hands of this overtly obscene act.
To say that there isn’t variety on this record is to prove that one has not listened to it. Technical, swift riffing in “Gristle Licker” is placed closely alongside what can only be called the band’s attempt at clean vocals in “Dead Set on Suicide”. That doesn’t mean that the album swings between moods at whim, because Monolith of Inhumanity
is a very cohesive unit despite its constantly shifting sounds. There is a vibe all over this record that is unique to Cattle Decapitation, and anyone who has heard The Harvest Floor
will realize that this is a very nice continuation from where that – their previous LP – left off, without repeating large chunks of content. It is clear that Cattle Decapitation want innovation but not at the expense of identity, and while it is true that what is recycled is running stale that does not spoil the entire affair. When the album gets going it becomes truly savage, even if that does take the listener sitting through two or three mediocre tracks.
As is now usual for Cattle Decapitation, the vocal variety of Travis Ryan is sickening but awe-inspiring, with gutturals, high, throaty gargles, and even a new-found use of clean vocals lacing the entire record, including especially the superb “Lifestalker”. I daresay that Cattle Decapitation showcase levels of riff-building that approach epic in the aforementioned track, and by the time the second half of the album rolls around it is clear that Cattle Decapitation are well in their stride. Aside from break-neck, technical riffing and drums that rarely ever cease to be an element worth mentioning, there are moments when Monolith of Inhumanity
proves to be a surprise. The little inklings of melody in riffs such as the intro to “Your Disposal” are a nice break from the exercise in aggression that is provided in gratuitous quantities elsewhere on the record, and a surprising showing by the bass guitar throughout the album is a pleasing inclusion that is all-too-often left by the wayside.
It is clear after only the first few listens that the latter half of the album far outweighs the first half in terms of quality, which stagnates rather easily due to the fact that there is little in the way of memorable songwriting, but when taken as a whole Cattle Decapitation have done very well with Monolith of Inhumanity
. This album is better than its predecessor, and could arguably be called the band’s best work due to the fact that is not completely aimless. It is a bit too safe to be exceptional despite the fact that it is clear Cattle Decapitation were trying their best to create an album that stays fresh, but it is the kind of safety that one can take comfort in. It is easy to tell what you are going to get with Monolith of Inhumanity
, and the album delivers just what you expect plus a bit more. It will not blow you away – this is not the kind of music that is meant to do so – it will simply deliver what was promised with an added bonus that may not have been expected: solid, vicious death/grind from Cattle Decapitation that actually has purpose.