Monday, September 3, 2012

Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity (2012)

Although their name suggests blood, guts, and a leisurely frolic through the depths of hell, Cattle Decapitation are actually quite the opposite of what a "normal" death-obsessed band might commit to recording. Extremely anti-human in just about every way possible, the act claim people are the scum of the earth and instead fight for animal rights with an iron fist. But against all odds, this isn't a bad recipe for a metal album. In fact, Cattle Decapitation's fifth full-length, Monolith of Inhumanity, is the San Diego quartet's best record to date, punishing, pummeling, and knocking listeners around for a mutated 43 minutes.

Depicting a half human-half monkey abomination, Monolith of Inhumanity's cover art sums up Cattle Decapitation's attitude toward humans rather nicely; the mutant ripping away its face and representing the lead number from the album, "A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat." Like maggots scuffling for the last bit of rotting trash, Travis Ryan experiments with a variety of vocal styles, most notably his rendition of traditional cleans and an assortment of conventional death metal growls. "Your Disposal" and "Kingdom of Tyrants" follow in much the same vein, but with a slight twist: not unlike black metal, one track has the guitars spiraling through the upper registers, while the other swivels back and forth between screaming chaos and a melodic midsection.

Even after a mere sampling of Cattle Decapitation's newfound experimentation, the band's inconsistent past has been erased or, at the very least, purposely forgotten because the latest effort is so excellent. Contrary to the popular belief, death metal is not just a wall of sound, loud for the sake of being loud or brutal for the sake of being brutal. Instead, an eclectic sampling of various musical elements found throughout the band's 16 year existence has been churned with tools fresh off the operating table and splashed onto San Diego's finest sound board. No longer is the act just another death/grind hybrid but premier song writers to be placed among the best of the best.

While the three most experimental cuts are a wonderful reminder of the glorious uphill climb for Cattle Decapitation, they feel empty without the remaining songs found across the record's 11-track roster. Further R&D continues with "The Monolith," an atmospheric, pulsating interlude that pushes the envelope past distorted guitars and pounding drums. Ripping through the imaginary boundaries set by previous albums, "The Carbon Stampede" and "Dead Set on Suicide" take no prisoners with their relentless double bass and blast beating, a surefooted way to ensure violent headbanging at the nearest venue. Even weighing in on the band's outlook on life, "Forced Gender Reassignment" places subject matter on animals in laboratories, but swaps humans into the shoes of an animal. The rest of the record is just as vicious. Both musically and lyrically, the band mean business and are not ashamed to reveal their outlook on what they have declared a filth-infested world.

As the second half of 2012 belches more nasty brew courtesy of the metal scene, fans collectively agree that Monolith of Inhumanity is Cattle Decapitation's fiercest album to date and staple across the year's releases. Among the debris-ridden landscape the band oh-so-passionately preaches about, there isn't a finer album to be found, nor is there a record as painfully eyebrow-raising or controversy-inducing. While this reviewer was never a fan prior to Monolith of Inhumanity, these clean-cut California boys have really outdone themselves this time and converted a listener in the process.


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