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I feel that Cattle Decapitation have always been an enjoyable listen. In their early years they created effective, if a little unimaginative, goregrind and with 2003’s ‘To Serve Man’ they crossed over to deathgrind of a similar nature. Often enjoyable but still unoriginal and lacking the ideas to really put them on the map.
So Cattle Decapitation looked doomed to follow in the path of hundreds of deathgrind bands before them and ultimately end up releasing the same album over and over. That was until ‘Karma Bloody Karma’ was released and we were shown the extent of their new found creativity and originality.
In equal parts grind and death this album is a progressive and interestingly macabre state of affairs. The songs now have a much more defined focus on structure than their early work with enough deviation to keep the music entertaining and at times even atmospheric. What continues to impress me most about the album is its unflinching switches between death metal’s brutality, grinds erratic style and slower more haunting interludes. Alone at the Landfill is a perfect example of this as it blends genres seamlessly with an almost sludge metal intro followed by visceral deathgrind and ending in what resembles a twisted acoustic black metal end made all the more memorable by Travis Ryan’s astounding, and I do not use that word lightly, vocal work. It is one of the single most spine chilling pieces of extreme metal I have heard it truly bizarre when I think who it is coming from.
This has to be the only deathgrind I have heard with capability of being both brutal and atmospheric in equal measure. This album harbours all the amusement of listening to a full throttle no frills death metal band but with a strange juxtaposition of also hearing something going beyond the restraints of the genre. It is progressive, it is interesting and most importantly it is memorable. The main negatives from past albums seem almost like bad dreams as they simply are not here anymore. The problem with their early attempts was a lack imagination but now we can see the bands new ideas and luckily for the extreme metal fans among us their imagination is twisted, sick and misanthropic to the very core.
I could go on to list the technical reasons for why this album is such an improvement on previous efforts. For example the production is spot on by not sterilizing the music by being too clean whilst also not being too muddy to make the music flat and ineffective. I could write for hours on the improvements to both the vocals and lyrics along with the musicianship. But I won’t. Because if you just listen to the album in full by the time the rather sinister end track rolls by I think you may have enjoyed yourself too much to care about these reasons. You may, like me, just want to find the repeat button.