Album Review: The Extinction of Cattle Decapitation
Cattle Decapitation was ridiculous. Take song titles like “Bukkaki Tsunami” and “Lips & Assholes,” or “Chunk Blower” and “Joined At The Ass.” View album covers that may feature a human-shaped pile of goo oozing from a cow’s ass. Tilt an ear to the total assault of blastbeats, tuned growls, and tremolo-as-fuck riffs. Nothing about Cattle Decap could make a case for death metal’s mainstream potential. But their new album The Anthropocene Extinction exhibits no demonic fart-humor nor pornographic gore! Let’s call it an “evolution.”
A listener will notice immediately. “Manufactured Extinct,” the album’s opening track and first single, represents the next step in the transformation initiated on 2012’s Monolith Of Inhumanity. Its vocals benefit from slick effects and melody. The ballad “Plagueborne” builds intensities, and shifts between 1-2-3 riffs and tech-death. “Pacific Grim” is a tormenting blast of del Toro camp and messy goop. Elsewhere, hints of Tarantino, Bob Ross, and Rob Zombie all surface (all serious artists), and like fountains of fake blood, brushstrokes on a landscape, or dusty dreadlocks, it’s an un-serious seriousness. Cattle Decapitation’s art is literal and pure, but still weird!
The structures of The Anthropocene Extinction are trussed and well-engineered, i.e. extremely serious. Like the action of a handgun or the synchromesh of a manual transmission. Tracks pulse with clear switches between verse, chorus, and breakdown — and without any hidden corners or nuance. This is a real effort to tempt your intuition and discovery. Its tracks stand strongly alone. “Apex Blasphemy” is Extinction‘s essential jam: a display of Ryan and crew’s ability do all these things but still be heavy and, more importantly, dark.
It’s fair to argue that Cattle Decap can smack of novelty. But Extinction unveils a less self-conscious veteran death metal band, one no longer cloaking truth in grossness. Reality is disgusting enough unadorned. Here, the dumb adage about old dogs learning new tricks might hold a hidden kernel of truth: The Anthropocene Extinction is one of those kernels, and to find it you no longer need to reach into the toilet.