Let me start this review with a big “Holy Shit” to Cattle Decapitation. I’ve been listening to these guys for a few years now, always been a pretty big fan of their work. But this…. this album absolutely slayed me! Monolith of Inhumanity is by far the best work ever put together by the San Diego foursome. Travis Ryan has never sounded more possessed than he does on this record. His unique style brings forth an extremely low growl to the point where it’s almost a grunt. In some tracks, he also has one of the most terrifying vocal abilities of some sort of high pitched chanting that has always reminded me of a group of small children in a horror movie. Josh Elmore once again picks up the axe and delivers with some pretty epic guitar riffs and a solo here and there too. Another huge factor in Cattle’s sound is their drummer, Dave McGraw. Dave is one of the unsung heroes of death metal and he proves it on this album. Everything from crazy drum fills to gravity rolls and blast beats, this guy does it better than most. Derek Engemann is the newest member of the family, making his debut on the record. It was sad to see long time bassist, Troy, leave awhile back; but Derek makes up for it across the album with his heavy low-tones and occasional bass break that even Alex Webster would have to turn an ear to.
Picking “favorites” was far too difficult for this album, but I think I grabbed the strongest tracks. Having said that, this album does not have a single weak point. With that, I am going to jump into the third track, which was also the first track released, “A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat.” In this killer track, we get a good idea of what Cattle Decapitation is all about. Gore. Blast beats, fast as hell fretwork, and low growls from Travis are just the beginning of this first single. Then at around :40 seconds in, you get to hear one of those really epic, memorable guitar riffs from Josh. Hold on though, Travis returns with some of his evil shrieking:
“A living, breathing piece of defecating meat
Two-legged massacre expressing glands in heat.”
The whole song is some description of some mutation that must be a walking snot with sneakers or something grotesque like that. The vivid descriptions in the lyrics just make this song more enjoyable than it already was.
The very next track, “Gristle Licker” almost made me shit my pants. This track is a bit more technical than past Cattle songs and I think they pulled it off well. The intro is basically a huge wall of sound with crazy guitar leads over it until Travis comes in with his guttural vocals yet again while the guitar and bass are pounding away. Seconds later, my hand started waving back and forth like Frank Mullen of Suffocation when I heard the single craziest syncopation from a band’s guitars, drums, and bass all at once with deep as hell growls over that. My only other reaction was my eyes widened, my jaw dropped, and I could only shake my head back in forth. At the end of the track, there is about 15 seconds worth of some weird noises which sounded an awful lot like, well, cattle being slaughtered. How suiting right?
One thing Cattle Decapitation has always been memorable for, are the outlandish song titles. “Projectile Ovulation” doesn’t let any fans of crazy song titles down. As an extra bonus, the song is terrifying. Travis literally sounds like a screaming pig throughout it with the deepest grunts I have ever heard a human being be able to reach. This entire song really keeps your head banging. At a few different points I could literally picture a mosh pit growing in front of me at a local venue. I hope the next time I see these guys live, this song gets a spot on the set list.
If you are following along at home, every track so far has been fast, heavy, evil, gory, and just about everything else you could think of. Well, “Life Stalker” doesn’t let you down. However, after 6 tracks, this song hits the breaks for a little bit. But it’s not a breakdown, its not a violin solo, it’s Travis’s shrieking over one of the most epic moments of the entire album. After a bass break from Derek, this little stretch hits you like a brick wall. They need to throw this part of the song into some Mortal Kombat movie where Shiao Kahn rips Liu Kang’s ribcage out and he’s screaming out in agony. The song picks back up to it’s initial pace and finishes strong with a sudden stop.
Finally, there is “The Monolith” which should always be followed with “Kingdom of Tyrants.” If you haven’t seen the mini-film/music video for these last two tracks, check it out now!
“The Monolith” acts as a buildup and an intro into the final track of the album. You can almost visualize the album art of the previous album, The Harvest Floor, which is a big queue of humans being forced into a slaughterhouse. At this point, you probably love those shrieks that are spewing from Travis’s lips. Well, “Kingdom of Tyrants” gives you just that, plus the instrumentals are reflective to that of “The Monolith,” just with a bit more distortion. After the nice little break, the song comes back even stronger than before with expected grind-like instrumentals and animal like grunts. The song, and album, comes to an end as strong as it started with Travis letting every inch of breath out of himself to let out the last growl.
Overall, this album was as close to perfect as you can get. Without a doubt, and you can quote me now, this album is making my Platinum list at the end of the year. Cattle Decapitation is not for the weary, part time metal head. If you don’t like listening to music where not every single syllable of lyric is interpretable, you may not like these guys. However, if you are a fan of death metal, grindcore, gore, horror movie music, or anything else that isn’t socially acceptable, this album will fuck you up. Get out there now, buy this album, and then catch these dudes on tour!