Album Review: Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas

Everyone’s favourite underrated band are back and this time they mean business. Re-armed with new members Belisario Dimuzio and Olivier Pinard on guitar and bass respectively and taking 4 years to deliver, the quintet are ready to remind everyone to wake up and take the climate crisis seriously.

Opening track “Anthropogenic: End Transmission” lulls you into a false sense of security with its radio style spoken word sections before a tom slam and the face-melting fury of “The Geocide” rips you apart. Those who have listened to Cattle before will no doubt be aware of the unbridled fury that the band can produce and this song is no different but, somehow, is even more deadly. Right from the opening screech from vocalist Travis Ryan to the last notes played, this track grabs you by the throat, shakes the life from you, and then throws your lifeless body away like it’s nothing.

“Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts” and “Vulturous” continue this savagery with the former featuring a vast amount of Travis’ new ‘clean’ vocal technique which has started to become more prominent as the records come. It’s equal parts haunting and aggressive, much like the rest of the track. The latter track, whilst still highly aggressive, has much more of a “Forced Gender Reassignment” vibe to it with an overall slower speed than previous tracks and much more groove. As mentioned before, it’s a song which draws a lot of inspiration from the back catalogue whilst still retaining the more modern elements introduced on previous tracks.

A short 73 second spoken word track “The Great Dying” warns about the dangers of what humanity is doing to the planet before a suitably titled “One Day Closer to the End of the World” continues the musical proceedings. Drawing heavily once again on themes from earlier albums, this is the sort of song that would not be out of place on Monolith Of Inhumanity yet still slots in perfectly on this album. Bringing back the modern elements and showcasing the evolution of the band, “Bring Back the Plague” is easily the most diverse track on the album. Black metal chord based riffs, a chorus with a superb hook which you’ll find yourself singing and excellent vocal technique switching from Travis combine to make this easily one of the best tracks on the album.

“Absolute Destitute” again adds some variety to the proceedings with an overall slower speed compared to some of the over the tracks and opts instead to have a driving rhythm for most of the track. By opting for that, when the speed comes it adds much more impact than it would do normally and again makes it one of the best tracks on the album. After another short spoken word track, “The Great Dying II”, continues the world ending themes, “Finish Them” follows the last line of the former, “Annihilation is necessary”, perfectly from the word go with the first words being “Fire”. Little touches like that continue into the following tracks “With All Disrespect” and “Time’s Cruel Curtain” with the former being an all out annihilating gut-punch of death-grind and the former being slightly theatrical with it’s opening riffs akin to something you might hear on Broadway. Unlike a show you might see on there however, the show that Cattle are displaying would likely be rated R18 (18 for us in the UK) partly due it’s lyrical content bringing up some very hard truths.

Rounding out the album, “The Unerasable Past” begins the final chapter of the album similarly to how it opened with spoken word continuing the narrative of world desolation over piano making up most of the track. This leads nicely into the final track of the album, “Death Atlas”. Clocking in at an astonishing 9 minutes and 15 seconds, the track is arguably the best on the album and well worthy of being the title track. Everything that has been experienced on the album combines on this track to perfectly finish the album and hammer home the point that the world is dying due to humanity. The choruses on the track amplify this further with the line “There’s no fear for tomorrow” being one of the most poignant.

Coming in at about 55 minutes and 14 tracks, Death Atlas cannot exactly be considered a short album. However, it doesn’t feel overly long and showcases some of the finest songwriting in the genre. By merging elements from older records and combining them with refined versions from newer records, the Cattle Decapitation have created what can be considered their magnum opus. No one song is out of place and the lyrics in particular are what make this an album you’ll struggle to stop listening to.

Death Atlas is out on 29th November

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