Californian extreme Metallers Cattle Decapitation return with their fifth full-length, ‘Death Atlas’, the follow-up to 2015s blistering ‘The Anthropocene Extinction’, this time with a slightly longer time gap between releases than previous albums, but there have been a couple of line-up changes since ‘The Anthropocene Extinction’, the addition of Belisario Dimuzio on guitars and Olivier Pinard on bass, who seem to have found their niche within the band given what a tight and devastating chunk of progressive Death Metal/grindcore ‘Death Atlas’ has revealed itself to be.
As with the more recent previous releases, ‘Cattle Decapitation’ continues to address the brutal nature of humanity on its environment in their usual equally brutal manner. Vocalist Travis Ryan explains that: “The core concept of this record is humanity’s insignificance despite what we’ve convinced ourselves, that’s kind of why this album cover takes place in space, to remind you that ‘the universe always finds a way to purge’. In the grand scheme of things, our species is merely a fleeting thought.”
It’s a concept I resonate strongly with and have often pondered the ridiculous arrogance and often parasitic nature of the human species, powerfully illustrated once again in the albums cover art, a stooped, skeletal Grim Reaper carrying the burnt-out husk of our planet on his back, impactful before you even listen, although I did find the ‘The Anthropocene Extinction’ with its corpse riddled wasteland a much more visually disturbing cover.
With the fourteen track, fifty-four minute ‘Death Atlas’, Cattle Decapitation have tried to be a little more broad ranging and adventurous, as good as ‘The Anthropocene Extinction’ sounded it was in many ways a bit of a revisit of its predecessor, 2012s ‘Monolith Of Inhumanity’, but with ‘Death Atlas’ there is slightly less of a hard edge, in favour of a little more dark bleak melancholy and they’ve tried to add to the core mix of Death Metal, Grindcore, greater aspects of Black Metal, sludge, doom and drone alongside some quieter more reflective but still dark elements; they’ve really tried to push their capabilities a little further with this offering.
‘Death Atlas’ is, as well as being their most adventurous release, with even Travis pushing his vocal range and styles further, is the longest in duration of their studio releases, partly due to the three, very necessary, atmospheric scene setting instrumentals and the rest is down to the title track and album closer clocking up over nine minutes duration.
I don’t really have a favourite track, all are of a similar quality, offering a variation on the meld of intense riffing, break downs, soaring leads and reflective quieter passages. If I had to pick one down I’d say ‘Death Atlas’ just because the sheer enormity of it means they’ve put everything mentioned above in there and it sums it all up in one final brutal onslaught and it’s integral bleak reflective outro leaves you contemplating on the album further. Also worth an extra mention is ‘One Day Closer To The End Of The World’ as I love the opening repeat riffs which have a great groovy squeal to them – not something I usually get excited about but here it’s perfectly executed, rather catchy and balances well against the punchy beat.
Anthropogenic: End Transmission
Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts
The Great Dying
One Day Closer To The End Of The World
Bring Back The Plague
The Great Dying II
With All Disrespect
Time’s Cruel Curtain
The Unerasable Past
‘Death Atlas’ is available from ‘Metal Blade Records’ and is a powerful and thought provoking listen.