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Cattle Decapitation at their earliest of all releases is way different in conjunction to the brutal prog death metal/deathgrind act that they currently hold a legacy over. If you are expecting even one single riff resembling death metal on this demo, stay way. Stay far, far away. That's all I will say. This demo isn't even technically a metal album. It's a powerviolence record if anything.
For fans of grindcore and powerviolence, this demo really shines. If you're looking for the Cattle Decapitation that performed punishing death metal tunes displayed on albums to the liking of Humanure or The Harvest Floor, then you're looking in the wrong place considering nobody who even plays on those albums was even in the band at the time of this release. The only exception is that Travis Ryan was "technically" in the band during this demo as he apparently helped with the shipping and design of the sleeves for this vinyl, but that's about all he did. There is no Ryan on this album, so don't get ahead of my words. In all fairness, the music is very crust/powerviolence oriented (as I mentioned above). This is a punk album, which (in what I believe) is why it has seemed to obtained such aggressively negative responses over the users of the Archives for its sound as they were likely expecting a deathgrind album.
You can even go as far as to consider this not even really Cattle Decapitation since none of the familiar Cattle D faces are anywhere to be found. One thing that I can proclaim that goes against popular opinion is that I really do not find this demo to be all that bad. It's nonstop in-your-face powerviolence tracks one after another that nearly crush your eardrums with intense build-ups and insane percussion.
The vocals are probably what catch your ear the most. The screams on this album are just the sounds of being tortured. That's the best way I can describe the vocals. Every scream on this album sends chills, and while some may not favor these vocals only because they are "too whiny"... I have to admit the guy who screamed on this whole thing really knew how to fit in this genre and sound. And many of the riffs, while not pure genius/totally original pieces of brutal work, they get the job done. They bring a cold, chilling atmosphere to the primitive extremity that is delivered across the 8-minute playtime you get out of this thing.
I've repeated several of the same statements in this review multiple times, so I might as well just say this again while I'm at it: this album is not for Cattle Decapitation fans. If anything, it's a Cattle Decapitation release for people who are not expecting Cattle Decapitation at all. But dammit, it is a freaking great release. It's wicked fun despite being the lamb in wolf's clothing that it makes itself out to be.
Is the music performed on this release by any means the slightest replicate of perfect musical tapestry? Of course not. But what makes this release so substantial is that it consists of short tracks that get nothing done but provide some short-lived idiotic fun. The way I see it, music doesn't have to be a masterpiece to be good. If you want a true piece of art by Cattle D, go pick up a copy of their Monolith of Humanity album and don't even dare think about touching even a digital download of this.
Recently I have been very interested in the early careers of bands that I have enjoyed the recent albums of. Cattle Decapitation's literal monolith of a last album had me hooked from the start. Well naturally I got intrested in their early history and investigated deeper. I am somewhat regretting that choice deeply. One thing I would like to get out of the way is that I do not blame the current line-up for this disaster of a demo. Travis and the boys are completely different from the mongoloids that made this album. With that having been said, lets get on with this autopsy of a rotting album.
Normally I don't dwell on production too much. I understand this is a demo, but even for those standards this is one tinny output. Everything feels so thin and there is no force to anything. The guitar tone sounds very muffled. There seems to be no connection between riff and sound. As weird as that sounds, I feel like I need to explain. The tone is delayed, which is a post-production problem. 2 separate sound tracks got separated, be it through faulty recording or just laziness. The drums are pathetic. I mean, I've heard harder tones from noisegrind bands. It sounds like he had two drums, a snare and a bass, which both, by the way, sound absolutely artificial. I had to actually do some research to ensure that it wasn't just a badly programmed drum machine.
The vocals are simply okay, but okay is the best that this album is getting. They aren't Seth Puntam levels of high, but they certainly reach higher than your average Jeff Walker clone. They don't really bother me, nor do they interest me either. Now I really would like to mention that the amount of microphone feedback audible in this album is absolutely horrid. In between absolutely every single track there is at least two full seconds of feedback. It sounds horrible and honestly made me turn this demo off a few times.
Lastly, I would like to talk about the songwriting. Well, since I can't have one line paragraphs that just say terrible over and over again, I guess I might just have to explain. The guitar riffs are hardcore and grind-focused, but in a very loose sense. No track gives itself time to progress at all. They all just haze together into one eight minute song. Drumming is your usual blast beats with a few mixed in d-beats. Nothing special obviously. Bass? What bass? Yes, the more observant of you might have noticed I failed to mention the bass in my talk about the production. Well, to put it bluntly Mr. Dave Astor has failed to acknowledge that he is in fact holding a bass and has mistaken it for something to bang against the microphone to cause feedback, evidently.
So all in all? I would rather kill every innocent animal in the world then ever have to listen to this atrocity again. But is there an upside? Well, it makes their new album look even more amazing.
Final Score 1.5/10
So this is the infamous first demo so many people are praising as a solid start to a career? Why? This is garbage. This is 10 tracks, 8 minutes of worthless raw noise.
The vocals are really painful to listen to, like nails on a chalkboard. Awful whiny Seth Putnam shrieks. The bass takes over on a few points on the demo, notably towards the end of Projective Pig Vomit and Flesheating Disease. While it seems like an interesting attempt at breaking conventional song playing, it really doesn't work in their favour. The drums handled by Dave Astor are so unremarkable I can't even remember a single thing about them apart from they're played to the rhythm of the guitars. The guitarists play...something that sounds like a hairdryer at times (i'm not sure if I can call them riffs if it sounds like a household appliance), but they do attempt at throwing a bit of melody into this mess, like in Priest of Ass and Flesheating Disease, where in the latter if the vocalist would just shut the fuck up it could almost be considered a solo. But that's just what makes this so unlistenable. That horrid vocalist.
This is a pointless piece of shit from a band that would go on to make some amazing brutal stuff. This will forever be an unremovable cum stain on their discography, as with the rest of their pre-To Serve Man output (Human Jerky is almost as worthless as this cow shit. Almost) and should be ignored and forgotten about by everyone. Go listen to The Harvest Floor and make sure that style is what you know Cattle Decapitation for.
"Ten Torments of the Damned" is the first demo released by grindcore animal supremacists, Cattle Decapitation. This demo has become well known in the underground for the mystery that surrounds it; rumors of existing 7" vinyl pressings limited to 4,000 copies and the disappearance of original vocalist Scott Miller.
That having been said, Travis Ryan's trademark gut-wrenching gutturals and eardrum-shattering highs are amiss on this material. Instead, there are whining, screeching grunge-inspired vocals in place that makes it safe to say this band would not have gained the following they have today if this had remained consistent.
The bass is truly the fat that holds together this chunk of gristle, and is the main component on a few tracks, such as "Flesheating Disease", "Christ on Crack" which is a good example that also shows off the diversity of the material itself, and "Species of Feces" where the first glimpse at the use of "humanure", a word later used to title the groups second full-length album.
Desecrate & Pollute the earth
Nature's mistake. Humanure"
"Ten Torments of the Damned" is lightly seasoned with grunge, groove, black metal, noise, and a ton of other spices to help keep the flavors fresh, and then ground together into raw, aggressive grindcore. Surprisingly, everything blends well together. The audio quality is putrid and makes the guitars over done and gritty, however this enhances the bleeding rawness of the instruments. This demo is a surprisingly fun and interesting listen that has a few unexpected chewy chunks between the overcooked areas.
- Villi Thorne
Wait a second...THIS is Cattle Decapitation? Could have fooled me. This seems more like a tribute to Anal Cunt than anything. Cattle Decapitation's demo Ten Torments of the Damned abandons all elements of metal music in favor of a raw grindcore sound. And very surprisingly, they pull it off. With ten songs and yet only eight minutes long, TTOTD is very well aware of the type of music it wants to play, and sets out to play it well. This eight-minute demo is pretty much perfect, judging it from a grindcore standpoint. Of course, being the type of musicians Cattle Decapitation is composed of, they even decide to put influences from everywhere into some of the songs. Grunge, country, noise, mathcore, shoegaze...you name it, it's probably used in at least a few seconds of this demo.
Travis Ryan and his bestial hisses are absent on this album, in favor of a vocalist who uses a purely whiny, screaming voice, a la Seth Putnam. They fit the music perfectly, but sometimes it simply turns pure annoying. And the growls...well, there are none, which is a shame, because Cattle Decapitation's always boasted some of the best growls and gutturals I've heard. The guitars are, as one would expect, typical grind/crust punk with a bit of noise influence. However, they also incorporate a fair bit of melody, which is a pleasant surprise. Take, for example, the song "Nightcrawler", which has just as much of a grindcore sound as it does an ambient, eerie tone, or "Christ on Crack", which incorporates what almost sounds like Western movie music. Most of this non-grindcore work is played by the bass guitarist, who is shockingly noticeable. In fact, this is one of the most prominent bass guitars I've ever heard from any band. But the band isn't maladroit in the grindcore compartment, either, whether the tempo is slow or blastish, it's ridiculously catchy. The drums are about average for grindcore, playing only the base punk beats needed to create catchy music. As for a favorite song, they're all about equal in quality, so I suppose it doesn't apply.
I am pleasantly astonished by the quality of this demo. Usually I listen to great band's demos with very low expectations, but this has thankfully proved me wrong. This is a great demo, and is just as musically great as modern-day Cattle Decapitation's progressive death metal work.
As any good Cattle Decapitation fan will know, this band originally started as a sideproject to the cybergrind (for lack of a better term) band The Locust. Ten Torments of the Damned is the demo which started it all. Ignoring some of the rumors regarding existence of vinyls floating around, or questions regarding the vocalist on this album, I will review the album as best I can.
At this point, it is clear the band has not developed its own solid style yet. If you listen to recordings by The Locust, you can tell these are the same musicians. Minus the synthesizer and with a little bit of line-up change; this is the same noise-heavy, fuzzy distortion grind band, shrieking away.
The difference comes in the instrumentation and the lyrics. The bass is audible in Ten Torments of the Damned; and in parts, it is even the main instrument. These songs do not require much musical proficiency, but each instrument is used important in its own sense. On tracks such as "Projectile Vomit" and the especially fun "Christ on Crack", the bass provides the introduction and forms the backbone of the song.
The lyrics are some of the more unique lyrics I've seen in my day. The pieces seem equally focused on gore and misanthropy. The lyricist's disgust with humanity is evident, and he artfully blends in threats of violence. These are a rare example of intelligent gore lyrics, and very impressive, despite their simplicity.
The production is low (though this does not take away from the music) quality, and it's not exceptionally different from The Locust, but all in all this is solid first release and absolutely worth listening to. It is damn near impossible to find a physical copy, but any SoulSeek user worth their salt can locate it (I believe some sites even offer it as a RAR if you're willing to search).