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CATTLE DECAPITATION The Anthropocene Extinction

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Tuesday, August 4, 2015 @ 4:03 PM

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The Anthropocene Extinction

Metal Blade Records

San Diego’s CATTLE DECAPITATION all but achieved death-grind perfection – such as one can – with 2012’s astonishing Monolith Of Humanity. The band’s sixth full-length was a letter-perfect blend of savage death metal extremity, progressive flourishes, engaging yet still punishing grooves and lurid but surprisingly thought-provoking lyrics - given titles like “A Living, Breathing Piece Of Defecating Meat”, “Forced Gender Reassignment” and “Gristle Licker” - that posited where mankind was headed if we kept up our over-consumptive/over-populating ways. And it was not a pretty conclusion, with humanity devolving into ape-like cretins living on a planet of garbage.

Still, I listen to Monolith regularly even today, three years later, which is more than I can say about most of the stuff I got three months ago. Its resonance endures, and it sounds just as awesome now as it did when it was fresh - “Your Disposal” and “Kingdom Of Tyrants” could well be the “Raining Blood” and “Angel Of Death” of death metal songs. Just sayin'.

So, as death-grind goes, CATTLE DECAPITATION set the bar pretty high for a follow-up. With The Anthropocene Extinction, the band actually presents something of an encore, trodding ground that is similar in many ways to Monolith – especially thematically – but is in no way a mere rehash. Yet the quartet end up with something as equally triumphant.

The album roars to life with the jarring “Manufactured Extinct” and its Monolith-like contrasting blast-and-groove delivery, with frontman Travis Ryan see-sawing from the death grunting verses to caterwauling cleans of the choruses as he further lambastes mankind for fomenting our own demise by pillaging and poisoning the planet. It's the catchiest track on the album, but things quickly diverge from there.

“The Prophets Of Loss” - which opens in a fusillade of riffs, blast beats and the ominous, growled spoken words of special guest Phil Anselmo that repeat later - is more elastic and spasmodic, with its dramatic tempo shifts ultimately climaxing in Ryan crooning “We fucking die tonight, and that's perfectly all right with me.” As opposed to the relatively structured “Manufactured Extinct”, “Prophets” has more of a free-form, almost amorphous feel that typifies much of the rest of the album.

Tristan (AUTHOR & PUNISHER) Shone provides the electric drone that kicks off “Plagueborne”, which soon hurtles forward on David McGraw's sprint-jog-sprint tempos. He's the unsung hero here, providing the glue for Ryan's multi-personality vocals, Josh Elmore's spray-gun riffing and the near constant stops, starts, dips and dives that send the songs this way and that.

“Clandestine Ways (Krokodil Rot)” offers some of fat hooks that were abundant on Monolith – not to mention a rather wicked solo from Elmore – but it does so almost in passing, as if to pause for a short rest to catch its breath before running off willy-nilly again. Same goes for gut-punchy “Circo Inhumanitas” and “Mutual Assured Destruction”.

Yet, despite it's shit-storm like construction, Extinction never really seems like so much unbridled noise. Ryan's commanding vocals, and the bug-eyed tenacity with which he presents his argument, and his bandmates' fearsomely precise execution in contrasting what melody there is with some jaw-dropping brutality make what is ultimately cataclysmic not only sound tight but purposeful.

Credit CATTLE DECAPITATION for taking the confidence it gained from the monumental Monolith and not going the more obvious route and building on its “listener friendliness” – such as it was – with Extinction. Instead, the band stepped up its game and made something altogether more challenging and extreme.

Though there are perhaps a few too many clean sung passages, and the overall sound of the album – which was again produced by Dave Otero – is remarkably similar to Monolith, Extinction is one ferocious beast that is easily the best death metal of the year. Indeed, it's probably the best one since Monolith, which only goes to show just what a formidable band CATTLE DECAPITATION has become since the “Joined At The Ass”/”Colostomy Jigsaw Puzzle” gore-grind days of old.

4.5 Out Of 5.0

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