Bands can often times linger in the background and then suddenly explode. The danger of this of course is that the bar becomes very highly set thereafter and each release becomes an awaited and anticipated hype that often times won’t live up to expectations. Just look at Behemoth, the disappointment that came from I Loved You At Your Darkest was savage, especially so after the blinding The Satanist. In fact, said album was so bad for me that it has slightly tarnished my love for the band. I could rant about countless others (Mastodon, I’m looking at you) but we’re here to discuss a current inclining artist who seem to do no wrong.
That band is the Californian Death Metal crushers Cattle Decapitation. Despite having formed in 1996 and having some sort of underground success it wasn’t until 2012 that the band totally flourished. This of course came with the release of the now modern classic (and possibly one of the best Metal albums of the 2010’s) Monolith Of Inhumanity. The album changed the face of Death Metal without submitting to any particular subgenre and bringing forth some truly inspirational vocals from Travis Ryan. Following this record came The Anthropocene Extinction, another blinding addition to the bands now developing discography. Yet the fear still grips me, and I’m sure others as well, the fear that the band will just flop, thus we give way to Death Atlas the 2019 Metal Blade release talks a big game, but can it match up to its predecessors?
Generally as regular readers will know I cannot abide instrumental interludes or introductions. They always feel so full of self-importance and often times in Death Metal especially add nothing to the music. Yet the opening Anthropogenic: End Transmission is well suited and should be full of self-importance for Cattle Decapitation represent the helm of Death Metal. The Geocide then erupts with full on signature Cattle Decapitation force through speed and unique riffs giving way to the mighty vocals of Travis Ryan. Typically, the album begins with sprayings of misanthropic lyrical content, another element that makes this band so strong. They take the filth of the world and project it through Death Metal giving the fans relatable Death Metal that is still putrid and shocking. I really could go into track by track detail with this release but to save this review turning into an essay I won’t. I will simply state that each and every track is a snapshot of humanities downfall shown in the most grisly light with all of the notions that in the past have made Cattle Decapitation the unit that they are. There is a certain added air of the melodic that has been teased in prior releases and in Death Atlas appears to be flaunted, a perfect example being in Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts.
We come to the almost needed break in The Great Dying, another interlude that allows the listener to indulge the lyrics and get themselves back upon even ground. Please if you listen to this record make sure to have the lyrics to hand, they are the very fabric of what makes this band so great. Coming back into the fold the album follows with two of the album’s singles, One Day Closer To The End Of The World and Bring Back The Plague, both showcasing the sheer might of this blistering and indeed rising Death Metal juggernaut. There is too much to go into with this release it is a complete experience and an absolute gem that shines higher than this band has possibly ever done before, can they do anything wrong? Adding to this however I must note the lower clean vocals from Travis which add a whole other level to this band, experimenting again with new and untouchable flare. Following The Great Dying II, yet another interlude we begin the final push of the record which is again chock full of undying quality and consistency, musically and vocally. For the instrumentation never gets enough credit from this band and frankly it’s leagues above any other Death Metal act out there today. Then following the final interlude in The Unerasable Past we come to the closing titular track. Epic doesn’t even cover it, this is like the classic Your Disposal amped up to eleven, it’s a journey of brutality, beauty and desolation, a perfect end to a faultless record.
Cattle Decapitation aren’t just incredibly talented musicians they’re a snapshot of the future and the environmental impacts upon this earth. They will continue to be relevant for as long as disgust reigns upon the world, which if you’re a cynical being like me you see no end too. This record is deeper and indeed wider than any album prior, it focuses upon the bigger picture and you can feel that in the music. This isn’t just a great Death Metal record, it’s important too. It might be bleak but now is not the time to sit upon one’s laurels, it’s the time for an environmental uprising. A perfect record that I simply cannot fault, and sickening subject matters aside this is surely one of the greatest Death Metal albums of the year, a true indication as to why this band are at the top of their game.
(10/10 George Caley)