• Cattle Decapitation - The Anthropocene Extinction

    Cattle Decapitation - The Anthropocene Extinction
    Released by: Metal Blade
    Released on: August 7th, 2015.
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    Recorded three years after their critically acclaimed Monolith Of Humanity album, Cattle Decapitation’s latest, The Anthropocene Extinction (produced by Dave Otero), offers up an even dozen new tracks for fans to dig on. All wrapped up under some pretty killer cover art by Wes Benscotter (who has done as many DVD and Blu-ray covers as he has metal covers at this point in his career it would seem), this is a pretty intense collection of tracks courtesy of the current lineup - Travis Ryan on vocals, Josh Elmore on guitar, Derek Engemann on bass and
    Dave McGraw on drums. Lyrically this record seems to deal with basically one concept – we’re all screwed and the planet is in bad, bad shape.

    The album kicks off with Manufactured Extinct, at almost five minutes in length. It starts off with a literal wave of sound but shortly after the instrumentation kicks in. It’s heavy, dark, ominous and very, very brooding. A minute in, Ryan’s vocals growl and grunt and gnash their way into the mix and the drums just go off. It’s nuts – and it’s an absolutely killer way to kick off the album and it perfectly sets the tone for the musical chaos to follow.

    Track two, The Prophets of Loss, features Phil Anselmo doing some guest vocals. It’s just over four minutes long and it’s fast, unrestrained and even eerie, what with Phil’s weird contributions over top of the band’s howling sonic assault. This is pure, unadulterated speed and it is truly wicked, but at the same time it’s got a serious groove behind it. These guys are fast and nasty but they can play. Plagueborne clocks in at a couple of seconds shy of the five minute mark and it starts off as an almost industrial sounding track but after a bit of droning, mechanical noise the sound you’d expect from Cattle Decapitation rears its ugly head. Ryan howls his way into the mix while McGraw’s drums set a new land speed record. Clandestine Ways (Krokodil Rot) is four and a half minutes of brutality but again, there’s a bit of a groove behind it. The song goes in some unexpected directions with rhythm and tempo but it hooks you.

    Circo Inhumanitas is another four minute long blast, listening to this is like getting punched in the fast, it’s a non-stop assault both in terms of the vocals and the instrumentation. The Burden Of Seven Billion is by far the shortest track, at just under a minute and a half, and it’s less its own piece as it is a mellow, drony intro to track seven, Mammals In Babylon. At just over four minutes (which seems to be the standard for this record), this seventh track slaughters everything that lays in its path. There’s a lot of great fluctuations in the vocals here and the guitars go from straight ahead grind into weird parallel dimensions in spots, creating an interesting and unexpected mood. Mutual Assured Destruction continues the records theme of ‘we’re all fucked’ over just under three minutes of unrepentant straight up grind. Not Suitable For Life, another cheery title, is three and a quarter minutes of the same – fast, hard, heavy, nasty, but socially relevant given what’s happening around the world these days.

    As the album inches closer to its finish, Apex Blasphemy delivers just short of four minutes of ‘holy shit that’s fast’ drumming, crazy bass lines, intense guitars and more of Ryan’s vocals but then about a minute in we get this breakdown that is almost melodic – but it fits. Just when you think this is album is getting predictable it sucker punches you, which is a good thing as it keeps you listening and demands your attention. Ave Exitium is the penultimate track, a three minute piece that starts off with some quiet, ambient noise but which builds, overtop of some keyboards or maybe a piano, into something… different. This almost sounds like Einsturzunde Neubauten when they’re not grinding belt sanders against oil drums but instead trying to create melodic, atmospheric musical oddities. You expect this to blast you in the face at some point, for the calm to give way to the chaotic, but the band again defies your expectations and this is one of the more interesting and unexpected tracks on the record for sure.

    The last track, Pacific Grim, has Jurgen Bartsch of Bethlehem on guest vocals and it spends five and a half minutes kicking you in the taint. You knew the band would end things the way you’d want – fast, nasty and unapologetic. It’s the longest song on the record and in as many ways as it sounds like a typical Cattle Decapitation track, it differs from that. Again we get a really solid low end from the bass and the drums, anchoring the insane guitar playing and keeping pace with the vocals. Pay attention though, because there are weird moments here not just where backing vocals kick in but where the music does a quick stop/start or a shift in tone – the kind that surprise you.

    This is good stuff. It’s close enough to what the band has done in the past that it absolutely will NOT disappoint their fan base (they’ve been around since 1996 so that fan base is significant at this point) but at the same time it sees them taking some interesting chances and trying some new ideas. It’s not the feel good album of the year by any stretch, if you expected that from a band called Cattle Decapitation you’re an asshat, but it’s smart, nasty, grindy and full of catchy hooks. Great production means things sound clean and clear enough that this is easy to listen to but it’s not so clean and clear that it takes away from the raw power and intensity behind the songwriting and the playing. It ends, as it begins, with a wave….