Review: Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction 8.8

 

  • Cattle Decapitation
  • The Anthropocene Extinction
  • 2015
  • Death metal/grindcore
  • USA
  • 8.8/10

I’m pretty excited for the possibility of a 2019 release so I figured I’d review one of my favorite modern albums in anticipation, The Anthropocene Extinction. I have no idea when the new album is due but considering where we are in 2019, it can’t be too far. Medium Rarities was a nice tie-over between albums and reminder of their roots. It will be interesting to see how feedback from that release and this album affects the direction of their upcoming release. The Anthropocene Extinction has been a point of controversy for some people in the metal community for its perceived softening, I disagree and think the elitists just don’t like change. This album has a wider sound than typical to the genre and I find it really effective at creating energetic peaks. It’s still heavy as fuck and those older, purely grindcore releases will always be available for listening.

Cattle Decap has been around for a while, since 1996, that’s the lifespan of like 28 grindcore bands. After this long in a similar genre it’s no surprise to me that they want to shift musical directions and embrace something a little more rewarding for their talents. Even if the spread-out cleaner vocals on the tracks soften the music in comparison to their old stuff, it’s still a metal as fuck vocal concept, something created by Dio and since refined. I can imagine them eventually crossing into progressive death metal territory with the tracks getting longer and the brutality a little more restrained. I don’t consider it a softening as much as a re-focus of energy, there’s still the same ferocity but it’s being presented craft-wrapped. They do have a political agenda but it’s super easy to ignore if it’s not your thing. Personally, I’m not a vegan but I can’t disagree with the general preservation of nature and I can’t say I appreciate the effects of overpopulation. These songs often deal with that subject through the lens of civilization destruction and apocalypse – which for entirely different reasons serves my own purposes creatively. There’s not a lot of fat on this record at about 45 minutes of modern death/grind that are all proper and well-constructed tracks. Something Cattle Decap have always done so it’s only natural to me that those song formats would shape this better paced style as opposed to what’s expected of their roots.

In terms of technicality and style, there’s a lot of good stuff going on. A lot of elements and techniques of grindcore but applied to a more musically inclined attitude, which I adore and find myself playing more than their other albums – even Humanure which I like a lot. Vocally we have more diversity than usual with the typical gurgles, growls and screams occasionally accompanied by Gojira-esque wide cleaner vocals. Before anyone turns up their nose to this notion, it’s not a conventional clean vocal, it’s just cleaner than his full-blown growls. I can imagine the cringe if Cannibal Corpse started doing this but Cattle Decap have always been a bit of wild card whether it be politically or musically. There’re often nice chord progressions used to accompany blast beats as opposed to always tremolo picking to match the drums, which makes the sound a lot thicker and alive. A style commonly used by bands like Akercocke or Opeth, but with far more brutal sensibilities. The drummer is nuts, always love the drums on these guys, we get to hear the drums slowed down more often, playing with similar beats and blasts but sometimes solely carrying the tune while the rest of the song takes a break. The drums start the tracks more here too. It’s very thoughtful instrumentation in general which makes this their most accessible album. To the uninitiated, grindcore is a chaotic mess that’s hard to process. This puts the same ideas into an easier to process framework, here we can begin to dissect the nuance of the grindcore style and possibilities of it’s application to other genres.

The lyrics are confrontational in nature as usual, and generally speak to the current actions of humanity. Rather than preaching a definitive answer to the world’s problems, Cattle Decap’s angle seems to be more calling out the world on its bullshit. Demanding these systems that we put in place be held accountable for their harm to society, nature and the general human consciousness. A lot of the same systems that I see around in my life and would much delight in the destruction thereof. Spiritually I can understand this band, their music comes from a place of frustration and call to action. You don’t have to agree with everything they say or think, as per anything in life, but inevitably they will touch ground that you have in common with them, if only for addressing the general dissatisfaction with current living. If you can listen to Norwegian black metal bands preach Satanism and all too commonly, nationalism – then you can mosh to some sick death metal about left wing policies. It’s all the same misanthropy at the end of the day.

This is a finesse album more than a bravado one, these guys have been playing this music for a long time and I think they want to explore that technical side of their craft more. Their stories could definitely be told through a longer medium like prog death/tech, I can already feel a sense of world building in this work similar to Rivers OF Nihil – who share a common progression of aggression and restraint. There are some problems and it can be a bit boring in some places, possibly due to the production not really giving us a whole lot of bass. But it gives me a lot of hope and anticipation for the next record which I believe will further cement a change for these musicians, into the 2020’s of metal history.

Hopefully when I’m old I can I can tell my grand-kids that “Cattle Decapitation are doing a 50th anniversary tour” like Black Sabbath.

 

 

 

 

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