San Diego based Cattle Decapitation have caused controversy with their music ever since they started, continuously gaining momentum, that peaked for the time being with the release of their sixth full-length Monolith of Inhumanity in 2012.
Cattle Decapitation have always promoted a strong animal rights and sort of “anti-humanity” message, delivered through music that ranged from brutal death metal over deathgrind to what is now a form of progressive and technical death metal, all the while polarizing their audience.
Now, three years after their last album, they’ve returned with The Anthropocene Extinction, an album that saw quite a lot of critical acclaim when it was released in August of this year.
As always, the band changed their approach to songwriting a little bit, which results in an album that can be classified differently than their previous works. Despite that, Cattle Decapitation’s music is still brimming with incredible musicianship and insane vocals with a lot of pathos in the lyrics, at times maybe too much, which is something that I’m going to touch on later in this review.
The songs usually alternate between rhythmic sections and breakdowns as well as the flurries of drumrolls, blastbeats and technical riffing, that the band is well known for, topped off with very diverse and equally as technical vocals by Travis Ryan.
One very outstanding vocal technique that Ryan likes to utilize, especially during a song’s chorus, is a sort of nasal, high-pitched clean vocal style that is one of the most unique things I’ve heard in a while and even though I had to get used to them at first, I came to like them quite a bit.
Overall, the band delivered 14 very diverse songs, each with its own character, at all times just completely punishing and pummeling the listener.
Despite all that though, I just can’t help but to feel like some songs on this album have a strong filler feeling to them, speaking of tracks like The Burden of Seven Billion, a very short synth heavy interlude and Ave Exitum, a sort of low-key acoustic piece. Both of those songs stray far from the bands usual sound and even though I think you can see them as a form of experimentation, I just think that it didn’t work out too well, since they don’t really add to the album as a whole, pretty much only taking up space, in my eyes.
Another thing that I’m still a bit conflicted about is the aforementioned pathos that went into the lyrics on this album. Singing of slaughter and apocalypse is far from novel in metal, especially this form of death metal, but since the band means it just that little bit more seriously than any other band in that subgenre, I can’t help, but to feel like they’re going a bit overboard with their presentation and delivery at times.
To be clear, I do understand the urgency of some of the topics that the band touches upon such as animal rights and some of the points they promote are valid, yet I just tend to prefer my music to be mostly free of too much activism or political engagement.
Putting all of that aside though, The Anthropocene Extinction is a very solid technical death metal album and Cattle Decapitation did a good job of solidifying their position as an important band in contemporary metal.