Album Review: Cattle Decapitation – Monolith Of Inhumanity [9.5 out of 10]

By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal

San Diego grind masters Cattle Decapitation have been doing their thing for more than 15 years now, and they’ve always been a band that captured my attention not only with their music, but also through their lyrical concepts and album covers. They’ve strongly demonstrated their pro-animal and anti-human stance on past albums such as “Human Jerky”, “Humanure” and most recently on “The Harvest Floor”. In addition to the great initial shock value they provide to first-timers, it’s the music that has kept people interested in them for so many years, ensuring that their concept is far beyond a mere gimmick. I rate the “Humanure” album cover as one of the best in metal, and whenever a new Cattle Decapitation record is about to be released, the first thing I look at is the cover. That time is now upon us, as the band’s seventh studio album “Monolith Of Inhumanity” is releasing on May 8th via Metal Blade Records. As is the case with pretty much all of their past album covers, the cover artwork for the new album is straightforward, represents the title very well, and drives its point across. As compared to their last couple of album covers, I do find this one to be more brutal, and I was curious to find out whether the music has the same characteristics as the cover.

The album is filled to the brim with intense bouts of aggression, but these segments are interlaced with some excellent guitar solos, solos that fit in really well with the rest of the music without sounding overly technical. In fact, this straightforward style of songwriting is the album’s main strength, and I think it makes the album better than the last couple of Cattle Decapitation releases. This might sound weird, because both “The Harvest Floor” and “Karma.Bloody.Karma” are shorter in duration, and I always thought that shorter albums drive their point across better. But, “Monolith Of Inhumanity” definitely proves that notion wrong, and turns out to be an album with more ‘substance’. There are variations in tempo and patterns, yes, but they sound much more natural on this album than ever before, and aren’t meant to make Cattle Decapitation sound like a technical death metal band.

Guitarist Josh Elmore has laid down some killer riffs and solos on just about every track here, most notably on “Dead Set On Suicide”, “A Living, Breathing Piece Of Defecating Meat”, “Gristle Licker” and “Lifestalker”. The combination of his riffs, Derek Engemann’s bass and Travis Ryan’s growls throughout the album is indeed ear-crushing. But perhaps the most pleasantly surprising aspect for me is Dave McGraw’s drum sound. It sounds completely organic, quite a bit different from the band’s past albums, and doesn’t give the feel of a drum machine, something that’s unfortunately quite common in modern extreme metal. Credit must also be given to producer Dave Otero, because the overall production of the album gives it a ‘fuller’ sound as compared to “The Harvest Floor”, while still capturing the Cattle Decapitation vibe perfectly.

And of course, as always, the song titles keep the track list entertaining, and even a casual fan of extreme metal can’t help but give a listen to tunes with titles such as “A Living, Breathing Piece Of Defecating Meat”, “Projectile Ovulation” and “Forced Gender Reassignment”. But, the most entertaining moment comes in the final track “Kingdom Of Tyrants”, with some interesting variations in Travis Ryan’s vocals.

When musicians talk about evolving, quite often it’s taken for granted as meaning they are getting more technical. In my opinion, evolution can also mean a heightened level of intensity and brutality, as is proved by Cattle Decapitation on “Monolith Of Inhumanity”. The album brings forth 11 solid tunes that display the quartet’s solid musicianship in plenty. It will most likely succeed and find appreciation among fans and first-time listeners alike. A compelling effort.

Rating: 9.5/10

Record Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: May 8th 2012

Track Listing:
01. The Carbon Stampede
02. Dead Set On Suicide
03. A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat
04. Forced Gender Reassignment
05. Gristle Licker
06. Projectile Ovulation
07. Lifestalker
08. Do Not Resuscitate
09. Your Disposal
10. The Monolith
11. Kingdom of Tyrants