Released: 2012, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
This album could’ve just as easily have been titled BRUTAL F@#KING PERFECTION, because that’s about the best way to sum up Cattle Decapitation’s latest full length, MONOLITH OF INHUMANITY. For those unfamiliar with the San Diego outfit’s brand of gore grind or who may only be familiar with their reputation, Cattle Decapitation originated as a sloppy sounding Carcass clone that spouted an animal supremacy/liberation message. Over the course of the band’s discography, the band has become a technically proficient and much more devastating death metal machine, ultimately culminating with the album that we’re discussing right now. A guttural masterpiece with a social conscience, MONOLITH OF INHUMANITY is the soundtrack of human extinction.
MONOLITH OF INHUMANITY retains all of the visceral extremity of previous releases, but executes against those extremes with a frighteningly intense level of musical complexity. It’s a qualitative level of success that rivals more prominent bands in the genre, and quite frankly, it makes for a flawless record. Integrating familiar discourses like blast beats and speed picking with bizarro time signatures, dynamic riff shifts, and a schizophrenic vocal performance, the album flirts with a variety of musical themes while never abandoning the gut level ferocity associated with the Cattle Decapitation name. As good as the album is musically, it’s really the vocal and lyrical performance of Travis Ryan that propels MONOLITH OF INHUMANITY from good to great. The guy has a gift, that’s the only way I can put it; twitching between the most low end gurgles you’ve ever heard to screaming wails to a psychotically clean and intelligible scowl, Ryan’s voice is truly an instrument.
Speaking of instruments, the rest of the band ain’t slouches either. Longtime guitarist Josh Elmore’s six string assault is lethal, as is drummer David McGraw’s work behind the kit. You like blast beats? Good, ‘cause there’s plenty of lovelies here. Bassist Derek Engemann doesn’t get a whole lot of spotlight time, but his bass rumbles resonate against Elmore’s crunch, particularly during more punctuated pauses across the disc. But as good as the music is, the lyrics are not to be missed. Seriously, either buy the physical CD or a digital version that comes with an e-booklet, because it’s Ryan’s commentary that makes MONOLITH that much more vicious. While still vehemently antagonistic, Ryan details his contempt for humanity beyond animal rights issues, tackling religious hypocrisy, environmental time bombs, and the general deterioration of human quality of life. From “Dead Set on Suicide”: “Sighting the blind/sheltering the poor/Blood into wine/but all is fair in blood and gore…” It’s downright poetic, eh?
There’s not a bum track to be found on the disc, but standout cuts are definitely the opening “Carbon Stampede,” the aforementioned “Dead Set on Suicide,” “A Living Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat” and the epic closer “The Monolith/Kingdom of Tyrants.” The band released a video for the track, which visually compliments the tune in a stunningly powerful manner. I can’t stress enough how surprised I am to be this impressed by a Cattle Decapitation record, and I can’t stress enough what a f@#king amazing listen it is. Definitely on my top 5 for the year, MONOLITH OF INHUMANITY is not to be missed.