It was late 2019 when Cattle Decapitation released their previous album, “Death Atlas,” and on it was the monumental song “Bring Back the Plague.” Now, at almost exactly the same time the Covid-19 pandemic was starting. Coincidence? Well, yes, of course, don’t be an idiot. However, it’s hard to not admire this accidental prophecy. The album came out so late in the year I didn’t have enough time to properly listen and assess it, but I knew soon it was special and with some distance we can now say “Death Atlas” was absolutely a magnificent beast that’s helped redefine this subgenre of a subgenre into which the band fits. Three and a half years later the Americans are back with their newest creation and their philosophies remain unchanged as one can immediately tell from the misanthropic title – “Terrasite.”
The word that encompasses what Cattle Decap is about is quite clearly misanthropy and the title alone combined with the album art shows the band hasn’t strayed from their ideas. The word terrasite is the combination of the Latin “terra,” meaning “earth,” and the “-site” from “parasite.” Now, of course, I have to be a linguistic twat and point out that “parasite” etymologically comes from Greek and the album title should actually be Geasite, (“gea” being the Greek word for “earth”) although I will concede that doesn’t sound as good.
It’s time to get into the musical part of the album itself and the beginning is disgustingly cockroachy – imagine the sound they make scuttling over one another to their next source of food, which they will devour near instantly. This short intro of the first track, “Terrasitic Adaptation,” describes exactly what the title suggests. From the post-plague world of “Death Atlas” the terrasite has arisen, a new humanoid parasitical horror to inhabit the planet. The furor is not far behind, however, as the band’s drums and guitars begin their assault – but while this is doubtlessly an assault it’s one with very measured and organised aggression.
Cattle Decapitation does not waste time with this release and they jump straight into the two songs that will most likely be the most popular ones of this record. “We Eat Our Young” and especially “Scourge of the Offspring” offer the best of what this band can do as both tracks know exactly when to revel in their brutality and when to pause just ever so slightly so the former has more of an effect. The band’s vocalist, Travis Ryan, who is already regarded as an absolutely outstanding extreme metal singer, showcases an incredible range and his versatility is quite frankly astonishing. In the chorus, he once again utilises his bizarre goblin-sounding cleans, which should by all logic be off-putting, yet the melodic nature of the instrumentals combined with his emotion make them simply alluring and never before has advocating for the genocide of humanity looked quite so inviting.
Three songs in and I want to talk about genres. It’s been clear for several albums that this band is not playing typical death metal and while they have grindcore elements calling them a grindcore band would be akin to referring to your moped as a Harley Davidson. Due to their complexity and just the simple pushing of boundaries in the genre I’d argue Cattle Decap have at least partly started flirting with being a prog metal band. Certain songs, such as “The Storm Upstairs” even showcase somewhat unusual tempos and musical complexity that we’re just not used to from the subgrenres the band is normally put into.
“And the World Will Go on Without You” eases the album’s tempo a bit and serves as a reminder – a wedge smashed into the middle of humanity’s arrogance and our inability to comprehend our own mortality. As the album goes on it becomes more and more clear how integral both the drumming of David McGraw and the lead guitars of Josh Elmore are as they really manage to complement each other while Ryan’s guttural growls are the glue holding this monstrous sound together.
As we approach the end of this album there’s more and more sorrow in it. While the previous album continued its rage to the end here there’s more of a transformation and a deeper delve into the emotional story. While the terrasitical existence seems to be moving from the furious and confused more into the uncomfortable and possibly futile existence so too does the band add layers with “Solastalgia” (the opposite of nostalgia) and the ten-minute epic to finish off the album, “Just Another Body,” which was written after the deaths of Gabe Serbian (ex-Cattle Decapitation) and Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder) who were both great friends of the band. The emotional heaviness in this track is palpable and it’s not something we’ve really seen from the band before, but it’s an absolutely amazing closure to this release.
I haven’t been writing much at all lately and a lot of that is down to new releases just not exciting me very much. However, when I heard the two released singles from this album I had an inkling this could be very special – and I was not wrong. Cattle Decapitation is a band that everyone should hear, not necessarily to enjoy the music, but to be at least be aware of its existence and entertain their misanthropic ideas. “Terrasite’s” uncompromising aggression combined with its meaningful message and the emotional heaviness is – in May – already one of the best releases of 2023.
Label: Metal Blade
Release date: 12 May 2023
Written by: Didrik
1. Terrasitic Adaptation
2. We Eat Our Young
3. Scourge of the Offspring
4. The Insignificants
5. The Storm Upstairs
6. And the World Will Go On Without You
7. A Photic Doom
8. Dead End Resident
10. Just Another Body