Sound — 8
"The Anthropocene Extinction." What a name. This is the seventh album by literal human bulldozers Cattle Decapitation, bringing us the much anticipated follow up to 2012's "Monolith of Inhumanity."
Starting off from their prototypical goregrind roots, Cattle Decap's sound has evolved in loads of interesting ways. "The Anthropocene Extinction" continues from where "Monolith" lead off, an album which showed more and more progressive, black metal and atmospheric influences, merged with deft hands to their base sound.
Let's not understate how intense this record is: definitely the fastest, malevolent, hardest hitting album of 2015 so far. Strangely sophisticated guitar patterns interweave with crushing riffs, the sort of low end that often gets buried in this genre but here, brings the intense rumble needed for this sort of weighty barbell of an album. The drumming, courtesy of Dave McGraw, is almost scary in how much power is conveyed from his beats. We're dealing with some of the best in their field, absolutely.
But the album weighs on us conceptually just as it does musically. The extinction part of the title needs the (pardon my language) meat to back it up, and this album really hammers home that feeling in spades, especially from the increased amounts of melodic content that the band have brought in since "Monolith." This is actually an awesome progression to hear for such an upfront band, especially the increased count of Travis Ryan's er, "clean" vocals, which we'll get on to later.
Some choice tracks: "Mammals in Babylon" is one of the defining songs of the this band and album. Based on the sort of chromatic riffing that'd make Ion Dissonance reel, this song is blended with beautifully dark Enslaved-esque tremolo riffs, perfectly balancing the chaotic energy of brutal death metal with the intense catharsis of melody-tinged black metal.
"Clandestine Ways" brings the speed down a little but enters intensely groovy territory, interspersed with apocalyptic bursts of blast beats and polarized slam riffs. Also seems to be the first recorded instance of bass guitar actually sounding good with reverb.
"Apex Blasphemy" will reignite any love for mid-2000's Behemoth, bringing us a very blackened track that flits between said sound and more Enslaved style riffing. Certainly one of the darker and more oppressing tracks on the album, in a good way of course.
Lyrics — 9
Travis Ryan is proving to be a pretty talented bloke, his diverse approach to harsh vocals has always ranged from surprisingly coherent death growls (and the very incoherent burbles) to complimentary (if terrifying) high end screams. But something that he's been bringing more and more of into Cattle Decap is a certain style of clean singing that blends with the melodic tremolo riffing very nicely. One couldn't say it's the most comfortable of things to listen to, but that would seem to be the point: if you are going to be the mouthpiece for the end of the world, nothing better than making it as eviscerating, biting and mournful as possible. Excellent vocal work on all fronts.
Lyrically, a lot of people seem to place emphasis on the bands vegetarian leanings. Let's try and settle this: Cattle Decap aren't the hilariously termed "extremist vegetarians" (as some have decided they are) but a group of individuals who are painfully aware of the problems that arise from our global society of randomly-determined existence. Think of it as "realist misanthropy."
The lyrical theme of "The Anthropocene Extinction" is perhaps the most encompassing one, with multiple songs dealing with various aspects of a semi-hypothetical current extinction event (I say semi, google "holocene extinction" if you're feeling too comfortable with being alive).
What properly makes this album a real experience is just how much it makes you hate yourself. Not in a depressive, simple way (like the snore-fest that is DSBM) but the story is told by an observer from afar explicitly pointing out our collective folly, our falsely-animistic, animalistic, ingrained nature dependent on faulty societal systems (the brutal meat industry, destruction of the global habitat, religious indifference, our lack of self-awareness etc.) and these themes are expressed with such malice, that it isn't hard for one to feel moved in some way.
Strange thing to say about a crazy death metal album, but hey, "Colored Sands" made me cry.
Overall Impression — 9
For any fan of extreme metal, give this a whirl. A crushing and inventive assault on the senses, one that crosses genres and influence but still retains identity and clarity of purpose. Prepare for absolute mayhem, be destroyed by absolute finality. Such a dark album, and safe to say, an absolute belter from Cattle Decapitation.
Would recommend on a playlist with Anaal Nathrakh.
Songs to look out for: "Manufactured Extinct," "Plagueborne," "Clandestine Ways," "Mammals in Babylon," "Apex Blasphemy," "Ave Exitum/Pacific Grim."