Review Summary: Cattle Decapitation find their feet
First steps are always shaky. When taking its first step, a toddler is unsure of itself; it understands the goal, but what is this alien means of accomplishing it? Similarly, Cattle Decapitation’s first release is a little directionless and rings ever so slightly hollow amidst the chaos, but represents a completely different, younger Cattle Decapitation strutting their stuff for the very first time. Ten Torments Of The Damned
features ten tracks but has a play time of only eight minutes. The reason? This is not the Cattle Decapitation, creators the fiendishly complex death metal as seen in their most recent release, Monolith Of Inhumanity
. Rather, this is an album of vicious miniatures; heavily distorted, impressively intense but equally brief grind exercises, created by means of a creatively dissonant and especially brutal sound.
Vocalist Scott Miller displays a far different vocal performance on this release to subsequent albums by the band, utilising a raspy screaming technique as opposed to Travis Ryan's low guttural vocals listeners have come to recognise. It is refreshing to see a different vocal style being employed more prominently, but unfortunately the production minimalises the power of Miller’s voice. The tone of the release is one of a slight monotone, with all the musical elements and vocals layered together; this means that none of the specific aural elements to the release stand out, unless the instrument is being played without accompaniment. The crushing vortex of sound features freeform song structures and an obvious reliance on power and intensity over melody and traditional music structure. For the most part, this works well, the release being carried admirably by the sheer consistency of the carnage. Crushing bass and a pounding drumbeat vary in tempo between song movements, and the guitar work may not appear particularly technically proficient, but the speed of the fretwork on this release is impressively speedy on occasion. Add to this some tracks with a more considered pace, and this is a remarkably short banquet of filth and fury.
Strip down Cattle Decapitation, and this is what remains; rather than the multi-faceted death metal behemoth they are today, they sit as an unsure musical sprite. This sprite, however, lacks none of the intensity of its' future self, and is a respectably powerful animal in its own right. The venture is twisted but palatable, due to its pleasantly short length, which works to the E.P.’s favour. A blisteringly powerful ride, certainly, but lacking in depth and sophistication. Surely, though, in a genre such as this, there shouldn’t be any need for sophistication? In comparing this release to Cattle Decapitation as they exist today, it is undeniable that they have refined their style. Technically, they are contributing to a different genre here, but the band remains very much the same, and this release is a testament to this.