Cattle Decapitation + Celestial Sanctuary + Cryptic Shift
@ Boston Music Room, London
August 19th 2022
Review by Farrah Kathleen
Photography by Farrah Kathleen
Fresh off the back of Bloodstock, Cattle Decapitation have taken a jolly down to London to delight a much smaller crowd at The Boston Arms Music Room in Tufnell Park. I heard smatterings of chatter about their set at Catton Park as I got there, and there were only good words to be said. Everybody was pumped and here to do some damage.
Cryptic Shift took stage first, bringing just the right energy for a Friday night in a dark back room. A small band from Leeds who released their first full-length album in 2020, they’ve no doubt been straining at the bit to play it live. The guitar was fast and lethal, gut punching you back from the stage with the sheer volume, and though the crowd was, at this point (only 30 minutes after doors) a little sparse, they seemed to be enjoying it, with most heads and feet bobbing along to the drums.
Next up was Celestial Sanctuary, a bit of a different vibe to both Cryptic Shift and Cattle Decapitation, a little slower, particularly in the build up, the vocals a lower pitch and a bit more primal, heavier in timbre. Sandwiched between the two worked well to build anticipation for the main event, drawing the crowd in towards the stage, rattling bones with bass. For this show they had Jake Murray (you may know him from Ill Vision & Iron Tomb) filling in on the guitar. They played a set made up on songs from their 2021 release Soul Diminished.
After Celestial Sanctuary there was a shift in the air. Everything was heavy with anticipation, the chatter got louder, faster, and I could feel the excitement growing. The crowd pressed in against me, bodies on bodies on bodies and for the first time I couldn’t see the back of the room. There was no spaces, no easy gaps out of the crowd, if you were in you weren’t getting out without a fight, and I was in. Front and centre.
As soon as the first note was struck the crowd surged forward and everything shook. There was no build up, no gentle initiation, they jumped straight in with the guitar, blisteringly loud. I could feel it through my feet, in my throat: this is what people were here for.
I hadn’t been at Bloodstock this year and my experience of Cattle Decapitation was purely what the internet could show me. Vocals unlike anything Spotify could ever portray reverberate through the room and are met with a chorus of shouting, cheering, guttural yelling. The fact that frontman Travis Ryan does what he does just as well live is outstanding. He was half in the front row for the first few songs, cradling the head of a man in the front, singing, arms outstretched into their loyal fanbase.
So involved were the crowd that there were virtually zero phones in the air. Every set of eyes was on the stage. Travis was conducting them, moving them this way and that, getting them riled up and quietened down. The crowd didn’t stop moving, surging one way and another, bodies slamming into each other in the middle, hair flying.
The stage presence of the entire band is something to be envied, I think, from the moment they stepped on everybody was enthralled. These guys know what they’re doing. From Geocide to Vulturous, then into Bring Back The Plague, they played through their most recent album with one song, Forced Gender Reassignment, from their 2012 release Monolith of Inhumanity.
Ending on their title track, Death Atlas, was absolute carnage, the pit still going strong from the start. These lot were more than up for being tenderised on a Friday night.
Everyone emerged into the smoking area when the music was done, shirts wet with sweat that may have been their own, maybe not, makeup smeared and thoroughly satisfied.