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A very interesting release by notorious vegetarian death metal/grinders Cattle Decapitation. This time on their third full-length outing and putting death metal in the priority spot with grind on the engine powering the whole cannon of brutality along with prog influences sprinkling atop the conduction of the entire direction. I would appropriately label this record Cattle Decapitation's version of South of Heaven by Slayer; hence their trade-in for sounds and progressing style that was new to people at the time. Things get really interesting on this release, even the cover is reminiscent of Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother. The artist who designed the cover even admitted in a Revolver interview I read one time, that he thought to have been subliminally influenced by the Pink Floyd record cover while designing it, having not even taken a look at the image until after the design was done. Nonetheless, the cover of the album is about as interesting as the music itself on here.
While putting more of a death metal sound as the front of the music, as all their previous releases were admittedly more grind until the time they got to their previous album To Serve Man, which sounded to be a complete half and half of the genres. This album not only succeeds that previous 2002 release, but also insists on building its own sound. I'll admit that To Serve Man is a mess of an album, while here Cattle Decap's growing experience proved further, replacing repetitive and earache-inducing drum patterns with powerful percussion variance and whirlwind dynamics which are also thankfully not as loud in the mix this time around either.
The production on this record I feel is both good and mediocre simultaneously. I enjoy the cold feel it bears, but also feel that it sounds a little too packed together and makes things a tad awkward considering this album was supposedly the band's biggest break at its release. Their height of popularity midway into the 2000's kept away into what sounds like an album that was released while it was halfway being properly produced. Perhaps it was Cattle Decapitation's distinct need to still have the classic grindcore feel that is very accumulated to low-fi sound quality despite the fact that they were growing even further into more of a death metal band at the time. As a result of the production, it feels a tad awkward to have a death metal album produced in this fashion albeit the smashing and heavy guitars that usually bombard the genre aren't here and the songs feel weaker than they should as a result. It is a flaw, but it does not ruin the record, however.
The vocals of Travis Ryan this time around are even more monstrous than heard on To Serve Man. Ryan's cheesy dual tracking of a raspy screech to a juicty growl following behind that on previous albums doesn't even compare to the vocals on this. He's ditched lame dual tracking production for every one of his vocals and kept that technique to select parts while his beast of a growl takes the front of the action displayed on this pounding release. The guitarwork preformed by Josh Elmore once again do not disappoint. His heightened performance on this record in comparison to the last album is praisable to his obvious incorporation of technical/progressive elements to his playing style which successfully injects just that to Cattle D's audial assault. Guitar solos? He's brought those back too and they're even better than they were on To Serve Man
Now as for drums, the number one thing that COMPLETELY DESTROYED To Serve Man into a lackluster pile of cow excretion (see what I did there?) that it became as a result of its terrible skinswork are fixed on this release. I absolutely hated the drums on their last album. It was overall the most incredibly painful thing to hear on the entire album. The horrendously awful blast beats that took up pretty much 90% of the record on every goddamn song are replaced here with varying techniques and actually aren't overhwelming in the mix this time around either. Getting rid of Dave Astor was the best decision this band ever made.
Humanure basically became an instant classic for the band. The speedy/proggy guitarwork, improved drumming and brutal vocals are what the band would become known for years later passing this album. It's good music that is slightly hobbled by mediocre production. But if you don't mind the cold, vintage feel to your extreme metal, this shouldn't bug you.
Best tracks: "Applied Human Defragmentation", "Polyps" and the title track
“To Serve Man” marked an evolution from the band’s initial goregrind sound to a more elaborated form of death/grind, less punky and meaner; but still infected with that dirty and damp streetwise atmosphere. This change continued more drastically on “Humanure”. Despite being very brutal, the use of scales gives the music an identity; riffs are more legible and flavored than on the average death/grind band. The use of some grim melodies between the riffs gives a lot of textural variety to the record, riffs are usually soaked in a vicious feel, similar to what you get when you see old blood stains in a slaughterhouse; but the melodies tend to be epic and challenging, in a dark fashion of course. The band’s compromise towards writing intense and controversial noisy music is constantly honored; there aren’t any relaxed or friendly passages on any song of the album. Contrast, however; is still present when the band slows things a bit, but the intriguing torture hall atmosphere doesn’t go anywhere.
Drums are one step ahead from the ones delivered on their previous release I’d say, this new drummer has a finer technique, more elegant, and you can hear that every strike has more breathing space and can be appreciated entirely. You get the feeling that whatever the guy is playing, he can handle it easily. The fast fills are nailed perfectly and there’s good taste in the drum patterns, designed to amuse with nice cymbal combinations along with the riffs accents more than just keeping the time, as on their first efforts. Every element of the kit is nice placed on the mix, it doesn't drown the strings but it’s very present, giving the whole album a very percussive edge. Guitars are heavily distorted but this time production is way more polished, the buzzy overdrive is controlled and it doesn't fill the sound with gain taking away weight from the riffs, something that usually happens with this extremely noisy bands. Solos are included this time, and there’s a wider sense of melody on the guitar arrangements overall. The tone they developed has a solid body instead, that blends perfectly with the bass, distorted too. The slight overdrive they use on the bass guitar let you hear the clanky sound of the strings hitting the fret board with the pick strokes. This metallic edge helps the bass guitar to cut through the noise, giving it a more defined face. Vocals show a big improvement too, this time they sound more natural, on their past records they arranged it in the studio and they didn't sound bad but this time the grunts have that nice diaphragm signature resonance that make them more realistic and vivid.
Even If I wouldn't say this album shows the band’s fully developed potential, it marks in terms of composition the definition of the late Cattle Decapitation, more mature in terms of songwriting. This time the progressive edge of the band takes a bigger role, along with the raw nature of the band’s roots. The difference between this album and the 3 that follow is simply that it isn't as inspired and memorable, but the formula is pretty much the same. Production is another factor that divides them in terms of quality; the next 3 albums sound crystal clear and this one has a rougher sound, that isn't at the same level as the music complexity they coined on this, their definitive form.
Cattle Decapitation's second full-length release is memorable to most by its repulsive cover art, which caused so many complaints that the band had the cow and human fecal matter removed so that stores would stop refusing to carry it. Having been generally overlooked in the past due to their bland, unoriginal material, there was much skepticism surrounding "Humanure" at the time of release. This album also marks the departure of drummer Dave Astor, the only founding member left, and in his place the debut of Michael Laughlin.
The first noticeable trait on this material that makes it unlike anything previously released is the use of completely instrumental intro and outro tracks. "Scatology Domine" comes in with a heavy, overshadowing bass atmosphere and then sets into a haunting piano melody and helps set the desolate mood for the rest of the material, lasting a mere minute. On the other hand, "Men Before Swine" is a near ten minute track consisting of the same style of cinematic bass, accompanied with sounds from the slaughter house which include a squealing pig, clanking metal, and human dialogue. However, for a large latter portion of the song the most that is heard is the same droning bass with some distorted grunge influenced guitar. This outro could have ended much earlier, but instead keeps drawing the material out and hurting its own quality in the process.
The material here knows how to breathe, and isn't anywhere near as cluttered and untidy in comparison to anything heard previously, which is a solid improvement. Each song is a stampede of fast guitar riffs, frantic drumming, and monstrous vocals, but within most of the compositions are sections that are slowed down that provide a small break, before the song ramps up again. Title track "Humanure" and "Cloacula: The Anthropophagic Copromantik" are a couple of songs that demonstrate the aforementioned attributes greatly.
There is an abundance of improvement when calling audio quality and production into question, eliminating the problem of losing the vocal tracks within the instruments. This also allows the guitars to be heard clearly for the first time, getting rid of all unwanted noise and distortion. Josh Elmore takes great advantage of this and demonstrates much improved talent and ability within the material, showcasing frenzied sweeps, lightning fast tremolo picking, and technicality. Michael Laughlin gives an entirely different drumming experience, and long gone are the use of two or three beats only that center around the snare drum. In its place is found a variety of beats, techniques and uses for the bass drum and hi-hat which were nearly non-existent before.
The lyrical and vocal contributions of Travis Ryan in this release show a more mature, refined purpose. Lyrically, the album centers around a bovine perspective if cows were able to gain enough intelligence and consciousness to realize what they have been put through for years, and as a result exact their revenge upon their oppressors. What doesn't center around bovine supremacy then talks about the ingestion of excrement and disgusting diseases such as "Polyps", which dedicates itself to the deadly cancerous illness. "Reduced to Paste" is a great glimpse of the use of bestial grunts and growls, as well as lyrical structure that takes on a more poetic format and includes the use of dark humor.
So many uses
Once drained of its juices
Perfect for home, boat or office..."
There is nothing incredibly spectacular presented in the material on "Humanure", nor is there anything particularly awful either, making it an average and mediocre release but a large improvement for Cattle Decapitation as a whole and gives the impression that the band are ready to commit to their quality and style.
- Villi Thorne
I initially noticed this band by its cover art. Obviously a play off of Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother", instead of seeing Floyd's black and white cow standing on a green pasture, we are greeted by a brown cow in the same position, while pooping out human remains with the undigested face still visible. Without a doubt, purchase of this album was a necessity.
Popping in the CD, I was greeted by the very fitting into track, which consists of a loud pained "moo" and the sounds of feces dropping at a fast and steady pace. Ominous music starts playing in the background... then the death metal starts.
Since buying this album, I have heard the rest of Cattle Decapitation's discography, and have to admit that Humanure is without a doubt the most death metal out of their four full-length releases. [As opposed to grindcore, that is]. Aspects of grindcore are nevertheless still deeply visible - keep this in mind if you're a death-purist or a grindcore fan.
But alas, on to the music. My major complaint is actually the drumming, which tends to drown out the rest of the music. (I often find this to be a common problem in grindcore bands...) The blast beats are a tad too repetitious, and a change in rhythm would benefit this band a whole lot.
The guitars are mediocre at best. There are melodic elements, undoubtedly. But it is not enough. A challenging aspect of grind and gore music is to have clear distinguishability within each song - this is not so obvious of Humanure. Average technical riff-work blends in together with the drumming too much, creating an unpleasant mixture of noise.
Vocals are good, but not outstanding. While still brutal as fuck, they manage to sound more natural than the band's previous release, adding in a great wave of raw energy that is without a doubt the best thing about this release.
The skill is there - with an improvement on drumming style and a superior mixing, this release could really be something great. Unfortunately, I have to stick them with an average rating of a "C".
-Marcin W. Cencek
This has the distinction of being the first Cattle Decapitation release that doesn't make me want to jam an unfolded paper clip directly into my eardrum with every note. Now don't get the impression that it even approaches 'good' territory; it's mediocre at best and there's still plenty to complain about. But I have to give them credit where credit is due, as this is much better than the band's previous abortion of an LP in 'To Serve Man', which is one of the most frustratingly inconsistent CDs I have in my collection. This, on the other hand, is pretty even-handedly bland.
Cattle Decapitation were always a band who were able to attract amazing musicians who had no idea of how to create a coherent song that can be listened to all the way through. On 'Humanure', they've managed to keep the former and partially resolve the latter. The songs have at least a little bit of coherency to them now and don't seem like endless streams of technical riffs with nothing linking them together. The vocal performance has gotten less ridiculous and is no longer constantly doubletracked (thank GOD), and the music in general has more in the way of atmosphere and tasteful variation in tempo and rhythm instead of the endless parade of weirdly melodic tech that typified earlier releases.
I would still rather listen to a great number of things other than this most of the time. While the songs are much more listenable, they're still far below the level of what I'd expect from a Metal Blade-signed death metal artist. Certain songs, such as 'Polyps', really work, with its doomy intro which segues nicely into the brutal, technical riffing that dominates the second half. A lot of the time it feels just as awkward as before, though, with riffs and drum beats sort of colliding with each other in a futile attempt to construct a song out of meandering tech riffs and weird solos. Thankfully that's a rarer occasion than before, but it's still an issue the band hasn't yet worked out on this album.
Overall, it's not awful, which is more than I can say for other Cattle Decapitation releases, but it's still mediocre and doesn't have a great deal to recommend for it. While it's a relatively capable tech death album, there's still many other tech death artists with a much better grasp of actual songwriting than these guys. In short, an improvement, but still not enough of one to make me want to listen.
Cattle decapitation took a turn for the better when they lengthen their songs on their last released and had no trouble extending several old songs, but the feel of their songs remained somewhat similar and nothing that special; just another gore-grind band. With they newest album, Humanure takes on a sound of its own. They riffs are a bit fuller and the rhythm is more frantic and less predictable. Unlike Astors textbook drumming, Laughlin's frantic less traditional skills do the album much justice. Musically the album is a bit more melodic than the last album. Songs like 'Humanure' and 'Polyps' definitely show a slight removal of straight brutal gore and puts a little more in, but still sounds gory as hell. The vocals are more up front this time around. Travis Ryan's vocals are probably some of the best examples of gore in a while. One thing this album does very well is convince the listener that this album is something different, which it is. There's nothing outstanding about this album, but it just doesn't sound like everything else. Overall this album strays away from the carcass and sounds a bit more like cannibal corpse and slayer. Either way, this album is a huge improvement for the upcoming gore band. While this album is different, it's still gory as hell and a great album too.
As the title implies, this album is much more of a Death Metal album than the last release by Decap. The drums are not the usual blast-fest, they have been rather toned down for this album, sometimes even being even reminiscient of late 80's thrash. The bass is nowhere near as audible as To Serve Man. Josh Elmore, ah yes, the groups prodigious guitarist. His usual erratic tremolo'd riffs are present, as are his flailingly slayer-esque solo's. As for Travis Ryan, his putrid layers of vocals are present, but not as overbearing as they were on the last album. The band has learned from their faults in production, and has thusly released a much more listenable album, not quite as repetetive as TSM, but it is not exactly Mr. Bungle.
1 part Carcass
3 parts Cannibal Corpse
add a pinch of wildly drunken live shows
and you have Cattle Decapitation.
Now for the music! They offer one of the best grinding records I've heard for a long time! Already the cover looks pretty weird. "Humanure" is also the first record with their new drummer Michael Laughlin who played in Creation Is Crucifixion back in the days and from my point of view an even better drummer than his predecessor. But its only the drums that made this record to one of the best death metal records this year, vocalist Travis Ryan mutates to a grunting, growling, screaming and shouting monster and shows that he's one of the most diversified vocalists in the death metal scene today. Another outstanding element that I really love is the guitar work that offers much more than a usual death metal record, they use a lot of various riffs, also a lot melodic riffs but through the overall brutal sound it never gets to melodic instead they force the speed for a more grinding part. Now and then the guitars have a black metallic touch till Cattle Decapitation stop the melodic piece with sudden moshing riffs and after that they again force the speed with unrelenting death metal. Very well done, I am impressed!