Review: Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas

Cattle Decapitation. A name that inspires an immense of aura of impressive musical skill and voracity mixed with ideals to show how humanity abuses the earth. In particular, the band has been displaying its disdain for the cruelties done to other animals, and their ingestion, by humanity via extreme sonic power for over twenty years. Along they way they catapulted themselves into the upper echelon of metal, not only in North America, but around the whole world. 

Conveying the injustices to other animals projected onto human life has not been the whole of Cattle Decapitation’s output. The release of Monolith of Inhumanity marked the rise of themes of how humans are self destructive and ruin their home, and 2015’s The Anthropocene Extinction is a masterful album showcasing sordid outcomes if humanity does not become more self aware to its toxic way of life. Based on their latest offering, Death Atlas, it does not seem that Cattle Decapitation see any, and condemn us further into our ever deepening planetary grave. 

Death Atlas may exhibit their tamest line-up of song titling in their discography, but the content is riddled with sheer abhorrence and disdain for the society in which they exist. It also shows the greatest attention to a unifying sense of structure out of all the albums thus far, as it is split into four distinct sections. Each one begins with a reflective telling, or broadcast, of what ills are happening in the world that spill into fire and brimstone sonic assaults. The first section makes an allusion to their 2015 release with ‘Anthropogenic: End Transmission’ and continues a blistering message of the blighted wasteland Earth is becoming. ‘Vulturous’ oozes the craven nature of our species with Travis Ryan bellowing forth “[s]cavenging shit-breeder, ravaging globe bleeder, damaging world eater, ravishing the delights of demise” amidst a smouldering bevy of riffs. 

The second and third sections intone the mass extinction that is currently going on in the world, and referred to in the previous album and to open Death Atlas — the Holocene, or Anthropocene, extinction. Vast amounts of wildlife are going extinct at far higher than what is considered a natural rate, and these  a harrowing condemnation of humanity for its role in this event. The last segment, which features the album’s title track ‘Death Atlas’ is our grim sentencing: to be fettered to this corpse of a planet, and there is no turning back from the reality of what’s coming: our demise.

Death Atlas is an unquestionably brilliant, and bleak, follow-up to The Anthropocene Extinction, and it succeeds in every way possible from musicianship to message. Cattle Decapitation have put forth not only one of their most powerful albums to date, but also the soundtrack to the hellish devastation humanity has created from “flying too close to the Sun.”

Death Atlas is out now via Metal Blade Records and can be purchased here.

Words by Garrett A. Tanner

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