For the longest time, you pretty much knew what you were going to get when Cattle Decapitation released a new album; totally vicious, unrelenting deathgrind with uncharacteristic lyrical content dealing with animal rights and environmental issues. That said, they’ve always been near the head of the pack when it comes to deathgrind, even if they didn’t stray too far from their effective formula.
But something happened in 2012 when Cattle Decapitation released Monolith of Inhumanity. Something about the band was different. With that album, they reached a whole new level of extremity and pushed the boundaries of what could be done with deathgrind, and subsequently, Monolith became the most heralded album of Cattle Decap’s career, and one of the most critically acclaimed of that year. After releasing such a deliciously vile album, it didn’t seem possible for them to top such an achievement, but much like a fermenting intestinal tract, Cattle Decapitation get better and better with each album, and their latest ripper The Anthropocene Extinction continues this trend.
Right off the bat, “Manufactured Extinct” serves as a proverbial punch in the face and shows Cattle Decapitation exploring the newfound facets of their sound hinted at on Monilith of Inhumanity even further. This particular song has a very epic feel, especially in the beginning, but naturally, it shifts into a wall of blast beats and feral riffs that make you want bang your head into a brick wall. Throughout the course of the album, guitarist Josh Elmore churns out tasty riff after riff, and dives even more into a black metal influence which presents itself rather prominently in songs such as “The Prophets of Loss” and “Apex Blasphemy.” Don’t worry though; his flesh-grinding riffs and face-smashing grooves are still here in spades. Just listen to that middle section in “Mammals In Babylon” and try not to destroy everything in sight.
Dave McGraw is as much as a beast as ever behind the kit, and Travis Ryan utilizes his weird, alien-like melodic vocals even more this time around, to great avail. Some may hate it, others may call it a gimmick, but it’s far from it, as it gives Cattle Decapitation a unusually melodic and (dare I say) catchy element to their music that’s weirdly accessible; unheard of when it comes to deathgrind, but it works in this case. All of this is punctuated by a rich production job from Dave Otero, who did an outstanding job of capturing each individual performance and mixing it to near perfection. Everything sounds crisp, organic and absolutely devastating.
Cattle Decapitation didn’t rely solely on their own talents this time around either, and managed to get some pretty wicked guest performers to lend their unique talents of The Anthropocene Extinction. One-man industrial doom monger Tristan Shone, better known as Author and Punisher, provides the ominous industrial intro to “Plagueborne,” Jürgen Bartsch of German dark metal band Bethlehem does an absolutely haunting spoken word segment in his native tongue on album closer “Pacific Grim,” and the inimitable Phil Anselmo of Pantera and Down lends his pipes to “The Prophets of Loss.” Each of these guest spots adds to the appeal of the album and warrants repeat listens to really soak in what each of them add to their respective songs.
When all is said and done, The Anthropocene Extinction is one of the best deathgrind albums in quite some time. It’s obvious that Cattle Decapitation have grown as songwriters over the years, and this album features not only their best songwriting to date, but some of the best songwriting in the genre as a whole. Cattle Decapitation remains one of the most extreme bands ever, but the element of accessibility they’ve added extends their reach even further, which is a very good thing, indeed. As Travis Ryan bellows in “The Prophets of Loss,” you’ll f***ing die when you listen to The Anthropocene Extinction, and that’s perfectly alright with me.
Cattle Decapitation’s The Anthropocene Extinction gets…