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I discovered Cattle Decapitation when I was at the age of first discovering really heavy bands. 15 years old was the age when I saw a music video of this band that was played on VH1. I was very interested in their early rights and ideas they had as people. I may not be a vegetarian (and in some cases, I hate what people do or say just to convert into being one) but along the lines the members of this goregrind 4-piece, I respected their views due to showing some considerable reason and understanding for the beliefs they have for strict animal rights. Anyway, Human Jerky is one of Decap's first releases at the ripe time of their outing. The record (unlike the band's '97 demo) focuses on grindcore with incorporating some death metal characteristics instead of low-tone grind that could be done by a thousand other bands. It's also the first to see Travis Ryan on vocals.
This album starts with a movie sample from the first Ghostbusters before the ravaging grind riffs and blast beat drums come in. Nearly all of the songs on the album are 40 seconds long at average (typical grindcore song lengths) with only like 4 of these 18 songs exceeding little over a minute. Every song basically blasts the shit out of your ears, the best they can in bite-size doses whether it be slow groove sections or fast utilizing riff combos all packing it into under a minute a piece. Now about the vocals, this album, I would definitely say is Ryan at his best. His voice is very impressive on this release. His death metal growls and grindcore screams are usually layered atop one another with this overtone deep pig squeal included along the lines of these vocal takes. The vocals must have been the main focus and feature with this album considering how much work was put into the takes and layers of them rather than the other instruments.
Now as for standout tracks, this is something I must talk about because a lot of the songs tend to blend into one another; even after you give this record a few spins. The biggest ones I enjoyed the most would probably be "Constipation Camp", considering the big groove the guitars have in the intro backed by Ryan's vocals that sound like three monsters hacking up human beings. Another one that caught my attention is the 3-second long song entitled "The Decapitation of Cattle", which is at such a ridiculous short length that one couldn't deny that it's possibly an homage to "You Suffer" by Napalm Death. And lastly, the most memorable track by my means would have to be "Intro to Carnage" because it has a very juicy and interesting ending to it thanks to the vocals of Ryan. He does this choking sound backed by a really long vocal squeal and the sound of water dripping (or flowing) goes behind all of this. I don't know what this sound he does with his voice is supposed to represent but every time I hear it, my mouth gets very watery, not even kidding.
Human Jerky is a very interesting record, it isn't bad, but isn't groundbreaking either. It's just very weird, but fun opus of extreme music from the late '90s. If you're interested in hearing some of the fresh beginnings of Cattle Decapitation, starting with this album would be your best choice as you'll soon discover the grind roots found about in Cattle D's very beginnings long before their death metal evolution.
Cattle Decapitation’s humble beginnings take us back to their 1999 “Human Jerky” EP. This shit is pure goregrind, let’s face it, and it’s good on its own way. There is a slight progressive influence to its music in this album but it’s minimal; I’m talking about the near abstract high pitched harmonics from which they build some riffs. Apart from those hints of creativity, the rest is impressionist and minimalist blood soaked goregrind. Judging it by what it is –and not a technical prog/death record- I would say it’s still better than your average noisy and fart sounding caveman death/grind.
Production is neat enough to let you hear each instrument individually. Guitar’s raw, unpolished distortion can be fully appreciated. It’s kind of thin and hollow but nasty and present. The distorted bass guitar gives a particular messy slaughterhouse atmosphere to the music; because it helps supporting the guitar tracks and anchoring them to the percussion, but there’s a creamy distortion instead of the natural organic, solid and acoustic tone of a bass. This radical change on the low end is the key to horror and gore in music I’d say. This overdrive however isn’t as acid and “buzzy” as the guitar gain, you can feel it’s deeper and has a wider resonance. Vocals are deeper than on today’s Cattle Decapitation albums but you can recognize them. There are passages where more than one vocal track is played at the time. It kind of reminds me of Deicide, one of the other vocal tracks is a studio edited replica with a lower and more devilish sounding tone, I don’t like it because I prefer just sounds that can be played live. Luckily it’s just a little flaw and can be ignored for the enjoyment of the rest of the instruments. Drums are well recorded too; cymbals aren’t too loud or full of treble. The issue with drumming is that it isn’t creative at all.
The unpredictable character of the beats depend more on the song structures and the guitars they rely on than on the drumming. “Human Jerky” features plenty of slow and mid paced sections also, it’s not just straightforward brutality. There are blastbeats obviously and also fast paced “tupa- tupa” rhythms. Mid paced sections are ruled by a juvenile hardcore punk influenced beat that kind of helps to release density and make things legible and more enjoyable. The change of beats is the only distinguishable variation in the song’s intensity and there lies the importance of this effective but short of ideas drumming.
The biggest flaw of this album, comparing it to modern day’s CD, is that their songwriting skills weren’t developed completely. They have a bunch of good riffs cramped in half-baked song. They manage to create a “survival horror” chase feel but song’s aren’t as fluid as they could have been. Anyway, I can’t see how this release is so hated. It’s definitely not for prog/death fans but it ain’t the most dirty and roach nest sounding grind either!
"Human Jerky" brands the first ep by Cattle Decapitation and also the first appearance of Travis Ryan on vocals. Dave Astor remains on drums as the only founding member left in the line-up at this point, and there are no credits to guitars/bass on this material.
This 18 track, 16 minute ep is a gooey, stinging, puss-filled branding left to fester on the ass of Cattle Decapitation. The first couple of tracks offer fresh meat, but soon after the flavor sour as the product begins to decay. The vocals are far better than that of "Ten Torments of the Damned", and mix up a satisfying range of highs and lows; most of which are layered atop one another. There are still significant issues with the quality of audio given, and although there is less distortion in this EP than in the demo, the guitars are still muffled and heavily unrecognizable. Which brings up mention that the bass that was so beefy in the demo is now non-existent. The drumming is just your average grindcore style, and done so in typical fashion.
All of the material presented is run-of-the-mill, and atrociously beneath any sort of standard or expectation one may have, bearing in mind that the only two members credited to this material are Travis Ryan and Dave Astor. There are a few decent tracks, such as "Cream of the Crop", that offer a small variety between the other songs that tend to do nothing but grind on and on. Lyrically, the material is heavily improved with a more intellectual style of brutality. "Parasitic Infestation", "Flesh-Eating Disease", "Mad Cow Conspiracy" and "Body Snatcher" are all well done re-recordings taken from the original demo material. No imagination, no diversity, no improvement other than vocally and lyrically. This sums up the entire carcass of "Human Jerky".
- Villi Thorne
This is my first real encounter with Cattle Decapitation. Hearing mixed reviews of their later albums I was hesitant to listen to them. I started with their latest album and wasn’t impressed. So I decided to look back to the very beginning. “Human Jerky” stood out just because the awesome name and the strange album cover.
So basically what we have here is simple, blasting, heavy goregrind. Everything in this demo is very simple. The riffs aren’t overly technical by any means. The song structures are simple (just like good grind should be in my opinion). The vocals are the most insane aspect of this demo. They are all over the place in terms of different types and speed of singing. “Gestation of Smegma” is extremely fast with ultra deep gutturals and high screams over it sung very fast. It gives the song a very chaotic feel to it. “Mute Rain” is more of a mid paced death metal type song; slower singing with a heavy riff with slower drumming.
Production is actually really good for a demo. The drums sound amazing. The guitars could be a little clearer but not too bad. The bass…is pretty much not there, that’s my only problem with the production.
If you’re not sure about Cattle Decapitation’s later works, definitely check this out. If you like “Reek of Putrefaction” era Carcass, also check this out. I’m not sure why this has such a low rating but I really enjoyed it.
Best tracks – “Mute Rain”, “Gestation of Smegma”, and “Veal and the Cult of Torture”
Ahhh, the early beginnings of Cattle Decapitation, a band who's managed to establish a rabid fanbase due to... some quality I haven't been quite able to identify with. And here they are with their illustrious beginnings (minus that demo no one cares about). 'Human Jerky' is the first real release of Cattle Decapitation, which would be followed by the 'Homovore' EP and eventually their first terrible full-length, 'To Serve Man' (note that I mean terrible as in bad, not terrible as in 'a terrible and wrathful God'). On this little disc, just over fifteen minutes long, we get to hear Cattle Decapitation as a decidedly different group, playing what amounts to straightahead grindcore.
Of course, the fact that they were playing a different style of music doesn't mean that they sucked any less. Cattle Decapitation didn't really rise to the level of 'tolerably mediocre' until right around 'Humanure', so everything before that is more or less a total loss. But you know, something like 'Human Jerky' sucks, but it sucks in a comfortable and familiar way. I can imagine these guys being a local band and seeing them at a show, and not feeling any animosity, but just thinking "God help 'em, they're trying so hard." The trying never results in a good or interesting song, but they play their little hearts out on these crappy tracks and it's almost endearing. But then they're also really pretentious so I guess I don't feel so much pity after all.
The production's awful, it's very thin and conveys no power, just noisiness. The songs are about as good. They're little sub-minute blasts of stereotypical buzzsaw grind riffing with constantly double-tracked high/low vocals and fast drumming. It mostly resembles Regurgitate if Regurgitate sucked. At this stage in their career, Cattle Decapitation didn't actually know how to 'write songs' or 'play their instruments' or 'not be terrible', but it doesn't matter because I think that around this time it was still sort of a half-joke project. Occasionally the band settles into a half-decent groove, but those parts don't have blast beats so the band feels the need to immediately remedy the situation by sucking again. Oh well.
The most notable thing about this is that as bad as it is, I'd still rather listen to it than 'To Serve Man'. While 'Human Jerky' is crappy on a comfortable level, 'To Serve Man' is just awful and makes me vaguely angry when I listen to it. This sucks and I don't recommend you get it, but if you have to choose between the two, take this, the shorter and more endearing one.
Let it be said, that I am a pretty big fan of Cattle Decapitation's latest works, especially with "Humanure" and I enter this review, of course, with no bias towards this release.
However, this release is far less than mediocre. This sixteen-minute long EP displays a lot of sloppy and clumped together death/grind that gets so old so fast that you end up turning it off after the first 5 tracks or so rather than simply sit through the mere sixteen minutes it lasts.
First problem: most of these songs have no difference between them other than timing of riffs. Really, this release could have simply been a sixteen-minute long song and accomplished the same degree of crap, since this is essentially what it is. However, the splitting of tracks (and for some reason, some tracks have an outro that makes the jump seem even longer than a few seconds) really splits up the synchronization and really interrupts the flow of the music. Not that it really matters, considering the next problem, but when you ruin even the atmosphere of the music, it's basically adding shit onto a really bland salad.
Second problem: each song is entirely unenjoyable. The riffing is horribly sloppy, the vocals are typical (even for the late 90s) and not even too well done, very much in the style of a majority of these scene-grind bands with guys wearing From First To Last t-shirts trying to sound like Carcass, and the drumming is simply mashing on drums as quickly as possible and ending when everyone else stops playing. Everything is very monotonous and this release seems as though it was quickly thrown together without a serious question as to the degree of quality.
Third problem: everything is simply very typical of a bad grind band. Sometimes the vocalist goes into these -core vocals that simply annoy the living hell out of me, but he mostly sticks to his attempted gutteral vocals (while failing, this is probably not Travis Ryan doing vocals and if it is, this was before he could really perform anything correctly.)
So, the moral of this story being that if you plan on releasing material, don't just throw a bunch of sloppy riffs and shitty drums together to get your name out there. It isn't worth getting known as a terrible band. Their later releases showcase a much wider degree of talent and songwriting, while this release can simply just fade into the distance and remain as just a bad dream. Stick to their later full-lengths, especially since they are actually enjoyable.