Select Page

MUSIC REVIEW: CATTLE DECAPITATION’S “TERRASITE” IS A FACE-MELTING SLAB OF DEATH METAL MAYHEM

Tuesday, May 9, 2023 | Uncategorized

By KRISTOF G.

GLOBAL WARNING: This record will melt your face and blow your mind while also causing severe neck pain from too much headbanging.

Can you believe SoCal extreme metal band Cattle Decapitation started almost three decades ago? With its roots firmly planted in both gore-grind and death metal subgenres, Cattle (for short) has slowly evolved from those seminal, putrefied and mutilated records (you know the ones) into the refined sound they have today. What they do could be defined as extreme yet melodic tech death, with prog structures and gnarly, catchy choruses.

Arriving May 12, TERRASITE, their eighth record (through Metal Blade Records, who were there from day one) follows the natural evolution of their quintet style. Since 2012’s grandiose Monolith of Inhumanity, Vocalist extraordinaire Travis Ryan has integrated more melodic singing – and we’re not talking about what those costumed clowns do. Ryan’s grand melodies aren’t clean (just like the house in Poltergeist); They’re more like interludes to rest for a bit with some sort of scary witch in between all those guttural growls, pig squeals and high pitch shrieks that Ryan seamlessly provides with the ease of a possessed Deadite. Also, if you take the time to read Ryan’s pessimistic (yet realist) lyrics, you’re in for a grim treat. His prose is guaranteed to make you think. It might also open your eyes to some heavy topics while inspiring a simultaneous explosion of anger, sorrow, hopelessness –  and the cathartic excitement of listening to this album on repeat.

On TERRASITE’s tight ten-song attack, guitars roar fiercer than ever, thanks to lead and rhythm axemen Josh Elmore (since 2001) and Belisario Dimuzio‘s (who’s been touring with the band since 2015) searing fretwork over the tight-as-hell rhythm section of drummer Dave McGraw (since 2007) and Cryptopsy’s bassist Oli Pinard, who can also be heard on 2019’s amazing Death Atlas. Lots of mid-tempo yet epic moments that allow you to catch your breath for a second are interspaced here and there on TERRASITE, along with raging riffs and ruthless, unforgiving beats. 

The album sounds as crisp and thick as it should, thanks to producer Dave Otero, who’s worked with the band for over a decade. (He even plays some keys on the closer.) Tony “Dis Pater” Parker from Midnight Odyssey also contributes drums, keyboards and synthesizers on a few songs. Plus, you get a wonderfully grotesque, post-apocalyptic cover by the band’s long-time collaborator Wes Benscoter

TERRASITE is a strong, dense record that somehow breathes, just like a mighty sequoia –  before it sadly bursts into flames during a California wildfire. 

????

Let’s dig deep into TERRASITE’s bleak soil, song by song:

“Terrasitic Adaption”
The record’s blackened opener is a raging banger, featuring a few nods to six-string gods like Chuck Schuldiner (Death) and Bill Steer (Carcass), with twin guitars solo to boot. To balance out the blast beats, slower parts designed for heavy headbanging will send you to oblivion. Plus, there are the diversified vocals of growler-in-chief Travis Ryan – fist-pumping, melodic witch singing included (and eerie synths too).

“We Eat Our Young”
“Scourge Of The Offering”
To appease their hungriest fans, these furious tracks were previously released as teasers. Well-chosen, both songs are epic, especially the multi-part, proggy “Scourge of the Offering,” featuring hypnotic, dissonant chords (and keys!), which may hurt your neck a bit.

“The Insignificants”
“The Storm Upstairs”
The first one starts fast, aiming to crush you with each one of its four minutes and 43 seconds. Beware: Low frequencies and guttural growls abound. Plus, there is a heavy AF, yet oh-so-gloomy ending. The second one is a growler. Er, I mean a grower. There is some vocal channeling of Deicide’s Glen Benton above huge, mean bass lines, expertly handled by Oli Pinard. The epically rich bridge wouldn’t be out of place on an early Opeth record, that’s for sure. Both songs feature, at some point, an atonal, hypnotic riff that’ll appeal to any Meshuggah fan.

“…And The World Will Go On Without You”
Its groove might have you tapping your feet before urging you to jump into the mosh pit (a North American tour coming up, y’all!). Anyone else feeling some Nevermore vibes from the melodic chorus?

“A Photic Doom”
“Dead End Residents”
There’s strong, gnarly vocal work on display here. Halfway through, a morbid, cannibalistic breakdown connects to a great, putrified solo and Gojira-size ending that’s hypnotic and heavier than thou. What do you get if you take Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss and infuse it with grind rhythms and Dimebag-esque (outer) god-size riffing? “Dead End Residents.” It has an outro with a  great melancholic feel, too.

“Solastalgia”
“Just Another Body”
For the final one-two-punch of the record, we slow things down (not really) to get some (dark/black) light at the end of the obscene, terrifying tunnel that is human existence. From its fast, breakneck blast beat, it eventually blends into a doom part, deep spoken à la Moonspell – almost in a Killing Joke style. At the other end, the 10-minute closer starts smoothly, with a soothing, scary piano intro that’s a tiny bit reminiscent of Demanufacture-era Fear Factory. However, the whole thing turns out to be faster than ever, bleak as a black hole and somehow hopeful, all at once. Every split personality Ryan might have is there. Again, great doomy, goth rock vibes can be felt on this one (from The Sisters of Mercy to Tiamat), leaving you blue, bruised and craving to hear it all live in a concert hall near you. It turns out you’re in luck, as Cattle Decapitation is on the road until mid-June, touring North America as part of The Decibel Magazine Tour 2023.

 

Christophe Gagne