Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity

It's safe to say that Cattle Decapitation have had a rough past. When initially formed, the band were largely mocked, and for good reason, given the poor quality of their first series of releases. The San Diego four piece eventually carved their name into the stone with 2004's full-length, Humanure, which amassed rabid fans from all over the world and launched Cattle Decapitation into the pits of underground popularity. After mixed reviews of the following album, Karma.Bloody.Karma., in 2009 the band went with a new and more progressive, atmospheric direction with the unveiling of The Harvest Floor, which had all of the ingredients to make a good album. While the release got a good response and rave reviews, the material still felt unpolished and lacking. Could Monolith of Inhumanity finally be the long awaited pinnacle in Cattle Decapitation's career?

Genre: Progressive Death Metal/Grindcore
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: May 8th, 2012

  1. The Carbon Stampede
  2. Dead Set On Suicide
  3. A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat
  4. Forced Gender Reassignment
  5. Gristle Licker
  6. Projectile Ovulation
  7. Life Stalker
  8. Do Not Resuscitate
  9. Your Disposal
  10. The Monolith
  11. Kingdom of Tyrants
Total Playtime: 43 minutes, 03 seconds


Official Website           


Rating: 10/10





It's safe to say that Cattle Decapitation have had a rough past. When initially formed, the band were largely mocked, and for good reason, given the poor quality of their first series of releases. The San Diego four piece eventually carved their name into the stone with 2004's full-length, "Humanure", which amassed rabid fans from all over the world and launched Cattle Decapitation into the pits of underground popularity. After mixed reviews of the following album, Karma.Bloody.Karma., in 2009 the band went with a new and more progressive, atmospheric direction with the unveiling of The Harvest Floor, which had all of the ingredients to make a good album. While the release got a good response and rave reviews, the material still felt unpolished and lacking. Could Monolith of Inhumanity finally be the long awaited pinnacle in Cattle Decapitation's career?

Similarly to their previous three releases, a short cinematic bass introduction leads the content. What follows is a slow groove riff that progresses into an unrelenting hysteria that will unleash hell upon the listener with machine gun drumming and sweeping guitars. "The Carbon Stampede" delivers the first line of clean vocals to ever be done in any Cattle Decapitation song, similar to some experimental vocal segments in The Harvest Floor but different and more refined. These vocal parts aren't entirely clean, and are hard to describe, as Travis Ryan still uses his signature animalistic style. Another new element given are the derogatory references to Christianity, which first appear in "Dead Set On Suicide" and again in "Forced Gender Reassignment", which remarkably pushes Cattle Decapitation to a new level of the perverse brutality that they are known for.

An easter egg worth mentioning is that the album title (along with the word tyrant, A.K.A "Kingdom of Tyrants") was referenced in "The Product Is Alive", a song from their previous album "The Harvest Floor", which also had a similar easter egg as did Humanure. Travis Ryan openly discussed that "A Living Breath Piece of Defecating Meat" was conceived as a follow up concept for a track from the EP Human Jerky called "Gestation of Smegma", so it isn't surprising that this album has references to previous material, and is a treat for their older fan base.


The long term problems that hindered Cattle Decapitations' previous releases have all but vanished. The sound quality is clear and provides layers of depth thanks to adequate volume mixing, though the only inhibiting factor that hasn't become extinct is that the drums sometimes work themselves to the forefront and cause the rest of the material to become overshadowed, but this can be readily overlooked since David McGraw drums like an otherworldly bio-mechanical god. Essentially, there are no real problems heard or found in the material on Monolith of Inhumanity, and the material allows moments of calm that gives the content breaks which contrasts highly with the powerfully intense song composure. This also marks the first album to feature bassist Derek Engemann, who delivers driving bass riffs that fuse the drums and guitar together without error.

Josh Elmore handles the guitar with an inhuman mastery, consistently showing off hypersonic yet melodious riffs and techniques during verses and choruses. When it comes time to unleash a skillful solo, while the solo itself is fast, it sounds slow and mellow in comparison to what is heard during the rest of the content. This isn't to be taken as a bad thing, but at first it sounds odd since it is completely backwards from what one expects. There is not a single track on this album that sounds anything like what preceded it; which ensures capturing attention since the material doesn't become stale or refurbished.

Highlights here would have to be "Gristle Licker", "Forced Gender Reassignment" and "Kingdom of Tyrants". These tracks each enlist something radically new and different than anything Cattle Decapitation have done previously. "Gristle Licker" is a slower doom styled song that demonstrates new uses for vocal additives, complete with a segment that sounds as if Travis Ryan is endlessly spilling sewage from his mouth. "Forced Gender Reassignment" is lyrically one of the most intense songs available, speaking of the mutilation of genitals and other horribly disfiguring acts of extreme violence. "Kingdom of Tyrants" carries on from its abundantly atmospheric predecessor "The Monolith" (which has the same concept as the title track from The Harvest Floor, but is not entirely instrumental) and is one of the most moving and thought provoking tracks listed.

Cattle Decapitation have erected a monolith of unforgettable proportion. An audible monster, Monolith of Inhumanity will infest your brain like maggots on a week old bloated, rotting carcass. Every element and feature fit together perfectly, and the album gives a sense of rounded completion. Travis Ryan uses his vocal, and writing talents in new ways never thought possible, from ultimate low gutterals to ear piercing highs. There is a new incorporation of animalistic "clean" vocals and an artistic use of growls. Lyrically, Ryan has created abounding brutality never delivered in any material prior and it is sure to leave a horrific vision charred into the mind's eye. Josh Elmore shreds faster than ever before, making use of sweeps and frenzied patterns during verses, leaving his actual solos feeling tame and slow. Newly enlisted bassist, Derek Engemann, delivers pounding bass lines that aid David McGraws' machine-gun fast drumming style with the ability to leave the listeners' ears bleeding. Add in the crystal clear sound and grade A mixing quality, Cattle Decapitation have vomited forth a masterpiece. Are you ready to approach the monolith?

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