Released on November 29, 2019 (Metal Blade Records), Death Atlas is Cattle Decapitation’s eighth studio album. The band has been issuing beat-downs for two decades. Whether or not subgenres are important to you, they do help describe a band’s sound; originally categorized as Grindcore or Goregrind (Deathgrind), Cattle Decapitation’s sound and song structure made a huge leap forward with 2015’s The Anthropocene Extinction, where a more musically progressive band had evolved. Death Atlas, in one sense, is a continuation of that progression. On the other hand, those old “Core” roots are still evident in many songs on this new record, in conjunction with the atmospheric structures we heard in 2015.
Death Atlas is a beautiful beating (IMO)! In just under an hour, the listener is pulverized by the patented double-base, blastbeat ass-whoopin’ one comes to expect from Cattle Decapitation, while being stretched to the point of being burst open by the harmonious Math Metal of the guitars and bass. All while experiencing the emotional agony of lyrical genius in screams, gutterals, and tortured (nearly clean) vocals. An experience is precisely what Death Atlas is! Thrown on the conveyer of slaughter, it is a fatal ride of horror through the mill of misery.
Travis Ryan masterfully delivers (as usual) the vocal onslaught, via no less than four different styles. Josh Elmore continues to amaze on lead guitar, with production and down-right power. Dave McGraw, one of the premier drummers of extreme metal, consistently beats your brains in with break-neck tempo changes, multi-count structures, and symbol combinations. Death Atlas sees the permanent addition of Belisario dimuzio (the band’s touring guitarist) as a solid rhythm guitarist with incredible talent that can’t be missed. And Olivier Pinard (Cryptopsy) is an excellent base player in his own right and is not unfamiliar with punishing the ear holes of the listener. This five-piece is a perfect storm to produce the masterpiece, Death Atlas.
The record is almost exclusively concerning the band’s perceived horrors of humanity on the environment. From the album cover, to the four “spoken word” interludes, to the lyrical content Death Atlas is an expression of this California band’s insistence that 1) humans should experience the evils that we unleash on animals and 2) Mother Nature is growing weary of the human race and will (sooner than later) eradicate its existence. And Cattle Decapitation issues images of these sentiments in vivid order. Whether or not one shares the band’s point-of-view, one definitely must respect the hell out of the way they communicate it! Even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, you gotta love the way they say it!
Favorite Songs: Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts; Bring Back the Plague; Death Atlas