Review Summary: To Serve Man is quite an enjoyable release, though listening to the album in full might leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
They're ever so willing to devour your skin as much as they have the desire of starting up their own monolith of inhumanity. From the bastardized lands of San Diego, California are a band who pride themselves as deathgrind musicians known for their outspoken views in regards to the smorgasbord of ways that animal cruelty is performed. This is a quartet self-aware of the statement about their message being about as harsh and blunt as the group's own style of music. Called the self-evident name Cattle Decapitation
, Travis Ryan and his followers initially formed in 1996, speaking against those who have wronged the specimens without remorse via terrifyingly delicious metal. Surely an act such as Cattle would make more than just a simple impression - and you could say that they already did - with six studio albums and two EP releases.
On July 30, 2002, the band issued their (technically speaking) second studio album entitled To Serve Man
. Released under Metal Blade Records, the album features a gross and torturous volume of 13 songs which sport a blatant, if amusing goregrind influence which would all but deteriorate during the band's subsequent offerings. Throughout the majority of the effort, be inclined to witness fiendish gurgles and - whilst necessary for Cattle and their contemporaries - a couple medically-related track titles that almost instantly unveil the very nature of the band itself. Listeners will take note of the barbaric riffage and heavy-hitting drum work, and even the downright unnerving cover artwork as well.
However, at the moment you get to finishing at least the first four or five tracks, To Serve Man
's content begins to feel pretty tedious. Unsurprisingly (given the album's nigh-35-minute running time) the songs themselves - particularly "I Eat Your Skin," "Land of the Severed Meatus," and "Everyone Deserves to Die" - are fast-paced and fun, yet they won't receive any other reactions aside from indifference. Guitarist and bassist Josh Elmore and Troy Oftedal respectively seem to repeat specific notes and chords that feed off of adequate savagery; while not entirely colorless, the two bandmates' skills never take aim. Occasionally, though, a well-timed solo arrives (e.g. "Testicular Manslaughter") to soften these average blows. Dave Astor - who has contributed to material with The Locust
- is this album's star player. His crashes onto the cymbals are deadly and, even though he suffers from a lack of percussive variation, his utilization of fills are handy on the relentless "Writhe in Putrescence." Travis Ryan has preserved his spot in Cattle Decapitation since Day One, and the man has shown great improvement over the years. On To Serve Man
, he finds himself confined to low gurgles that can be considered menacing. Throughout the second record's number of tracks, he will make an attempt to expand upon his arsenal with hoarse shrieks, yet seeing as how they go practically nowhere, their presence sort of comes across as annoying. Travis is undoubtedly the weakest link on the album, but his vocal performance in the main is still passable and somewhat terrorizing.
Juan Urteaga's production for To Serve Man
manages to give the instrumentation a threatening vibe as displayed, yet it's nothing too special. One shouldn't be too astonished that not even he bothers to be a real game-changer, what with him never going the extra mile to enhance any of the vocal effects or much of the guitar work. Urteaga neither hinders nor augments this album's chances of becoming better than it should've been, though the guy tries his damnedest to "leave the slaughterhouse".
In conclusion, To Serve Man
is largely hampered by some monotony embellishing the guitar job and weak song structures. On the other side of the spectrum, fortunately, the album itself will want you craving for more Cattle Decapitation and - if somebody bothers not to take the release at face value - can be rather delightful to hear if you aren't looking for innovation or cheap techniques. The band had an overall nice record at their disposal, but you should start anticipating these gentlemen to step their grind game up on subsequent affairs.