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CATTLE DECAPITATION Medium Rarities

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Monday, November 19, 2018 @ 6:14 AM


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CATTLE DECAPITATION
Medium Rarities

Metal Blade Records




Nothing quite says “Happy Thanksgiving” like a human face frying in a skillet. But this is CATTLE DECAPITATION after all, who have a long history of sometimes absurdly grotesque cover art – especially in its early days, as on the EPs Human Jerky and ¡Decapitacion! and the Homovore and To Serve Man albums. And it's nothing compared to 2004's Humanure, with its cow shitting bloody chunks of people parts – including not one, but three faces. This flayed face graces the cover of of the band's latest release, Medium Rarities – due out the day after Turkey Day. True to its title, Rarities is a collection of nasty bits that were previously unreleased, available only as bonus tracks or just hard to find. The material dates back to demos that preceded 1999's Human Jerky, as well as fresher cuts from sessions for CATTLE's two most recent albums, the monumental Monolith of Humanity and The Anthropocene Extinction, which helped make the band much more of a household name.

Those who have come to know CATTLE thanks to Monolith and Extinction – easily the most accomplished and technically adept of the death/grind band's long career – might be in for a bit of a shock with Medium Rarities. The demo material is very primitive, a la the early work of NAPALM DEATH and especially CARCASS, who were obviously influences as CATTLE was honing its chops – from the crude, grinding music, gargle-and-puke vocals and emphasis on biology at its gnarliest, albeit with a less clinical, more crass air, as on “Flesh-Eating Disease”, “Thrombosis All-In” or the delightful 18-second microburst “Diarrhea de Dahmer”.

Several of the demo tunes – the 19-second “Birth, Cancer, Death” and “Thrombosis All-In” - aired in more “professional” form later as part of a split LP CATTLE did in 2005 with CANINUS, who were known mostly for featuring a pair of pitbull terriers as vocalists! All six of CATTLE's contributions from the split are included here, in fact they lead the collection off, and show just how much better a band it had become since the demo days as the lineup grew more stable and got some touring experience.

The three tracks from ¡Decapitacion! - Spanish versions of “Head Cheese”, “Pepe's Trepes” and “Wine of the Sanguine” from the debut album Homovore - make for an interesting novelty, and sound a lot better than the demo material. And, as with the bulk of the band's early tunes, they fly by in flash – of the 23 tracks here, the first 15 average about a minute each.

There also are couple of covers - a pretty spot-on, ass-ripping rendition of the vintage CARCASS nugget “Burnt To A Crisp” as well as a deconstruction of THE BIRTHDAY PARTY's “Sonny's Burning” that vaguely resembles the original, the long-lost bonus track “Rotting Children for Remote Viewing” and the odd-ball electronic interlude “You People”. The tumultuous “World Full Of Idiots”, a bonus track from the Japanese issue of 2007's Karma Bloody Karma, offers something more akin to the sophisticated tech/grind of CATTLE's contemporary fare.

Rarities brings us to the present with the barn-burning finale of “An Exposition of Insides”, “No Light and No Life” and “Cannibalistic Invasivorism”, where CATTLE flexes its considerable modern muscle and often jaw-dropping dexterity, especially drummer Dave McGraw who sounds like human machine gun. There's certainly something to be said for stick-to-it-iveness, especially for a band that revels in the sort of extremes that CATTLE has - and still does. And CATTLE remains as ferocious and brutal as it was back in the day, but as it has grown older it has also gotten much wiser and become one of the true titans of tech death in the process.

The band now barely resembles the one that produced the garish likes of “Colon Blo” or the 4-second ditty “The Recapitation of Cattle” – literally and figuratively since vocalist Travis Ryan is the lone remaining member from that era. And the musical metamorphosis the band has undergone is utterly astonishing, as it was with CARCASS and NAPALM. Yet while Medium Rarities offers more of a dog's breakfast style approach to the traditional career retrospective album, it still makes for an enticing sampler of the good, the bad and, especially, the ugly of one of metal's most uncompromising bands.

3.5 Out Of 5.0


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