Released: 2006, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Cattle Decapitation continues to evolve from the lo-fi grind of early recordings like HUMAN JERKY and become full-fledged members of the death-grind brotherhood on KARMA.BLOODY.KARMA.. Building upon the improvements made on 2004’s HUMANURE in production and songwriting, the new album is even further ahead, changing tempos and vocal styles but still adhering to the band’s misanthropic view of human nature. Travis Ryan’s enunciation is also better this time around but his guttural attack is still rooted firmly in the grindcore esthetic of grunts, gurgles and screams. Josh Elmore’s frantic riffing and guitar squeals motor the songs along with the drumming of Michael Laughlin (replaced since the album’s completion by J.R. Daniels) providing a continuous volley of blasts and kick drum. Cattle Decapitation’s message may be heavy-handed at times (Ryan has been known to take the stage wearing a mask made of beef jerky) but there is no denying that this band can roll with the heavyweights of death-grind.
The faint melody lying behind the middle section of album opener “Unintelligent Design” is superceded by Laughlin’s roiling blast attack. Ryan’s unholy vocals are delivered with such menacing conviction that his lyrical savagery is upheld by his unwavering devotion to the cesspool of humanity. Briefly letting up on the throttle for a doom-y middle section on “Success Is…(Hanging By The Neck),” Elmore’s carefully elicited riffs wind around the raging hatred spewed by Ryan (“Begin voluntary extinction/No better time than now”). Elmore really lets loose at the midway point of “One Thousand Times Decapitation,” strokes his guitar neck and emitting a flailing maelstrom of squealing notes that echo back to the band’s grind roots. “The Carcass Derrick” goes for a full-on brutal death metal stomp, double bass flying and guitars crunching like a Sherman tank. “Suspended In Coprolite” chugs along with a death metal groove occasionally permeating, however the slow, brooding “Alone At The Landfill” could be Cattle Decapitation’s most experimental track to date. The second half of the song is dark and atmospheric, bleak as any black metal paean to the wilderness and its length only compounds the feeling of desolation as Ryan howls a mantra in the background. This experimentation continues on album closer, “Of Human Pride & Flatulence,” again seeing Ryan adopt a screeching howl befit of black metal’s most sinister ghouls alongside the keyboard-induced atmospherics courtesy of special guest, John Wiese of Sunn O))).
After five full-lengths, Cattle Decapitation has forsaken the humor and outrageous gross-out lyrics for a darker, more serious and overall better album. The blood-drenched subject matter and humanity-as-global-parasite theme still prevail but having matured as songwriters beyond the overt Carcass worship of HOMOVORE and HUMAN JERKY, San Diego’s purveyors of P.E.T.A.-friendly metal have finally come into their own on KARMA.BLOODY.KARMA.
KILLER KUTS: “Unintelligent Design,” “Success Is…(Hanging By The Neck),” “The Carcass Derrick,” “Suspended In Coprolite,” “Alone At The Landfill”