It’s hard to approach a new album from a band like Cattle Decapitation, who have become one of the defining bands in contemporary extreme metal. Personally, I found the last album left me a little cold. This is partly because on the previous two albums, Monolith of Inhumanity and The Anthropocene Extinction, Cattle Decapitation had redefined what death metal and grindcore could be, taking the genres into new territory in terms of vocals, atmosphere, narrative scope, song structure. Over the last decade or so, Travis has firmly established himself as one of the best and most creative vocalists in the world and the band refined a sound that is brutal, emotive, and almost impossibly precise. Yet on Death Atlas I felt that the band seemed to have reached a kind of end-point in terms of what they could do with their sound, as well as the end of a narrative arc in which humanity has fucked the entire planet. The finality of the concept I think also influenced the flow of the album, and I felt like it kind of dragged in sections. It was a necessarily bleak album about the end of life on Earth as we know it. So, where to go from there?
Well evidently you write Terrasite - a jaw-droppingly good concept album about cockroach-human hybrids who emerge in a post-apocalyptic wasteland to continue ravaging the earth. Such is the nature of humanity that even mutating into big weird bugs won’t stand in the way of its mission to devour the very Earth. This is a brilliant way for the band to move forward with their themes and storytelling, having potentially painted themselves into a corner on Death Atlas.
This album is relentless. Relentlessly fast, relentlessly brutal, relentlessly proficient. The song writing is top notch throughout. The band balance grindcore groove against some fantastic melodic and epic sections. We Eat Our Young is pure ferocity, with the album’s title bellowed by Ryan in what is sure to become a singalong hit in the band’s setlists. The opening of Scourge of the Offspring almost goes into some interesting Meshuggah-style grove territory and is guaranteed to get your head nodding along. This track also showcases one of Travis’ trademark vocal styles, which we can just refer to as ‘goblin voice’. On the previous album I felt that this vocal style was a little overused, effective as it is in creating a kind of tormented atmosphere, but now the band saves those atmosoheric epic goblin sections up to release like a super power at key moments. The drumming throughout is nothing short of inhuman, the riffs are varied and super catchy, and the bass is crushing, especially on And the World Will Go On Without You and Solastalgia (shout out to Vox and Hops regular and bass legend Oli). Travis is just peerless on vocals. From the hellish drawn out screams on And the World Will Go On Without You to the bottomless gutterals of A Photic Doom, Travis is at the top of his game on Terrasite. Probably my favourite track on the album is Solastalgia, which showcases the incredible versatility of the band to shift their tempo and atmosphere so effectively, and this track also highlights the sparse but evocative use of keyboards to enrich the melodies of particularly epic sections.
Overall, an incredible album even by the lofty standards already set by Cattle Decapitation, an instant contender for my album of the year, and I can’t wait to see them tour this album.