Cattle Decapitation have always been a terrifying artistic prospect, with a message as confronting as their music is violent. Few metal bands have pushed the envelope of sonic brutality as they have, and even fewer have been as unswervingly devoted to their cause.
With Death Atlas, the San Diego grinders offer their bleakest sermon yet. It’s right there in the cover art – the Reaper supporting a burning globe on his back as an hourglass runs down. It’s there in the track names, typically non-metaphoric titles like The Genocide and One Day Closer to the End of the World. This is less the persecution of humanity for raping the world, and more punishment for killing it. Cattle Decapitation hold out little hope for the world, and none for those who have brought about its destruction.
Like Monolith of Humanity and The Anthropocene Extinction, Death Atlas is a further dialling back of the musical extremities of earlier albums in deference to the lyrical message, the final degradation of all life on Earth. To this end, Cattle Decapitation inject more melody into the visceral death and grind. Travis Ryan’s weird, distorted alien voice takes centre stage over his bellowing grindcore delivery as the band serve up deathcore-style breakdowns, old school Cannibal Corpse-like death metal and elements of early 80s thrashy death in their unpredictable assault. The chorus of Bring Back the Plague and stand-out cuts One Day Closer to the End of the World and The Genocide are where the melodies and alien vocals work best. Other times, they seem less necessary, especially when coupled with the eerie interludes of news bulletins and sound grabs that work effectively on their own to help further the atmosphere of bleakness and the anger of hopelessness the heavier, grindier moments convey.
Death Atlas will certainly split the fanbase between those who loved this band for the sheer extremity of their riff salad grindcore and others who have discovered them more recently, but there is still a lot going on – and their message is as potent as ever.
- Anthropogenic: End Transmission
- The Geocide
- Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts
- The Great Dying
- One Day Closer to the End of the World
- Bring Back the Plague
- Absolute Destitute
- The Great Dying II
- Finish Them
- With All Disrespect
- Time’s Cruel Curtain
- The Unerasable Past
- Death Atlas