Cattle Decapitation - Karma, Bloody Karma Review
by Mark Hensch
Cattle Decapitation is one of those bands whose antics have at times come close to outweighing their actual musical ability. The band's infamous misanthropy, gory rants, and meathouse tales of slaughter, viscera, and mutilation have been combined with leftist vegan support groups and flashy stage antics (anyone remember frontman Travis Ryan's jerky mask?) into a blended hodge-podge of controversy. The perfect example in my book is (in my opinion) the undercooked Humanure album from 2004, whose infamous cow s***ting man artwork and excessive blastbeats bitterly divided fans and detractors of the band alike while overshadowing the true potential the band had.
Now, with Karma, Bloody Karma, Cattle Decapitation have finally emerged as a major player in the gore field. The CD features a fiery, passionate bloodlust, the likes of which speaks volumes about how the band's recent lineup changes have reignited their energy. Every single song drips with the brutal, merciless combination of righteous wrath and bloody, natural punishment for the sins of mankind. The band seems so focused, so furious, its like hearing the band's unique take on humanity for the first time. Even better is the new level of musical diversity present; Ryans keeps his gurgling low-end growls, but a few slicing screeches crop up here and there. The newly altered rhythm section of skinsman J.R. Daniels and bassist Troy Oftedal plays with a varied, fresh approach with precision bordering on the surgical. The expanded, mechanical blasting of earlier works is now a lot more organic, all sorts of chaos coming out from behind the kit. Most impressive to me personally is guitarist Josh Elmore, whose rabid, high-pitched guitar tones often sound like the hellish torture of a small animal. Yep, you best believe it folks; Cattle Decapitation are finally set to slay!
The disc starts off with "Intro," a serving of ambient dissonance and a deep growl or two. It's not unlike the sort of thematic elements present on the opening of the last Pig Destroyer album, and sets the mood perfectly. "Unintelligent Design" is where the massacre truly begins; right off the bat, the band blindsides you with blasting drums, manic howls, and dirty dirge grooves. The best part is a bridge of searing melodic notes and filthy, man-hating ranting. It shines amidst the gory mayhem not unlike a piece of gristle in the corpse of flayed roadkill.
"Success is...(Hanging by the Neck)" keeps the momentum rolling, its straightforward gore/metal raging with bleeding death metal riffs and massive tempo shifts. The band even busts out a tremolo pick section or two, the melody being entirely raped by some fantastic blastbeats.
"One Thousand Times Decapitation" starts off as pure pummeling death metal, but later on the band shows a much welcome nod to their grindcore connections as Elmore twists his guitar notes into squealing vermin being ravaged with a knive. "The Carcass Derrick" is perhaps my favorite song on the album. Kicking things off with a face-peeling set of guitar licks, the percussion next breaks into a menacing full-frontal blastbeat, and the band segues into a portion of squiggling ambience before spraying the listener with arterial spray guitar licks, fluid gore, and disgusting sound effects.
"Total Gore?" is exactly that; guts and body parts flood your speakers, with bile-drenched rawk grooves and blistering melodies rearing their heads. "Bereavement" blasts through with grinding fury, giving you no reprieve from the assault. The filthy chugging of "Suspended in Coprolite" twists and writhes with manic wigglings worthy of a stomach intestine.
The majestic "Alone at the Landfill" is a Carcass worshipping monster of a song, its grim melodies wavering over the bloodsoaked hellscapes. I'd go so far to call it one of the most focused, intense songs Cattle Decapitation has ever done. If you don't believe me, the droning buzz of the song's eerie interlude will put your fears to rest, and if not, the follow-up of blasting goregrind surely will. "Karma, Bloody Karma" has skin-flaying hyper guitars and chaotic arrangements befitting the cruelty the title implies. "The New Dawn" is probably the only rest a listener gets, the quiet start of the song going forth into mid-tempo death metal. It's a bit bland, but the ending song entitled "Of Human Pride and Flatulence" makes up for it a bit. The band goes out on a limb (gore pun intended) with this one, a moody creepfest of gruesome tones and eerie feedback washes. It isn't death or gore at all, and something the band could incorporate more in the future.
In closing, this one doesn't bother with the scatological puns of the last album and goes instead for pure, messy bloodletting. If you like your death/goregrind disgusting, vicious, vile, and vicious, this slab of meat is for you. Here's hoping we horrible bastard humans don't get put out to pasture too soon so this band can keep upping the ante with each successive release.
p.s. Guest appearances by Joey Karam of the Locust and John Wiese from Sunn-O))) should solidify the intrigue of this CD. You'll know them when you hear them!
2. Unintelligent Design
3. Success is...(hanging by the neck)
4. One Thousand Times Decapitation
5. The Carcass Derrick
6. Total Gore?
8. Suspended in Coprolite
9. Alone at the Landfill
10. Karma, Bloody Karma
11. The New Dawn
12. Of Human Pride and Flatulence
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Posted by PsychoNavigator:
Dude, you're an idiot who obviously didn't do the research. JR Daniel just joined the band less than three months ago. The CD was finished in February. Mike is on both albums playing drums, and to Say Humanure is weak, I'm willing to bet it's because you're enough of an idiot to think that the ambient pieces were just filler. That is something Travis has always loved doing, we worked on crap like that together when we started Rbbr Cmnt, and he progressed on that with 5/5/2000. Fix your facts, and check yourself on Humanure. That was hella better than TSM was. Dave was a crapty drummer, always has been.
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