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These guys are awesome, and their polished brand of progressive death/grind reaches its peak on this, their 4th studio effort “The Harvest Floor”. The unpredictable character of the music, bedizened by a storm of frantic riffs mixed between another breed of cold melodies and more memorable sections to keep the attention, and a constant intriguing and dense atmosphere that never let you go even if the pace of the songs changes a lot; makes this one of the best modern death metal records. Innovative, creative, yet merciless and brutal; with glimpses of melody and a wide sense of progression and perspective in their compositions, this album is set to kill. It follows the same formula from “Karma. Bloody. Karma.” but somehow the songs featured in this record are better, more intense… the memorable parts are more meaningful and heavier, with a monolithic presence. If you play this album in your speakers while chatting with a mate, the music will eventually drag your attention every now and then, keeping you off the conversation. It is that good, so dynamic it sounds alive and raises its hand.
Cattle Decapitation is a raging machine that combines the splatter gore sound soaked grind with elegant percussive beats from genres that aren't even close to rock and roll sometimes, without compromising the sickening death metal ambient. The compromise with the classic, hard to swallow death metal atmosphere combined with progressive elements give this album a place over the rest, it’s unique. Travis Ryan’s vocals, versatile and demented; raging from deep gutturals to frantic shrieks resembling desperate mentally ill patients are delivered with the same hatred that lyrics reflect towards humanity and our world of shit. The guy added even some actually sung choruses, still with a very raspy voice though.
Strings are simply amazing; riffing is so innovative, it mixes grind core minimalist riffs with some heavier and darker death metal influences mainly, cold black metal melodies, hardcore riffs are often included too, there’s a very modern edge in the band’s music in general. The distortion Josh Elmore used on the record is near perfect, it has a lot of gain; it’s acid and sharp but still pretty solid and heavy, the slow brutal death breakdowns that feature palm muted power chords can tell. The bass guitar works proficiently, it follows the guitar even in the hardest riffs to play and it adds arrangements here and there; it features also a pretty solid tone, very organic for a bassist that plays with a pick but still with the metallic edge that characterizes that style of playing. The volume is OK, but it could have been louder and more present. They also used an electric cello on 3 songs, sick shit it sounds weird… very high pitched, distorted and strident.
The drumming is superb, fills are played with an amazing precision and combine sounds that aren't familiar in the metal scene, and some weird beats here and there too. The cymbal work is incredible, I can’t imagine how expensive McGraw’s cymbal kit is but I bet it has a lot of bells; it’s incredibly rich and influenced by lots of other genres that had to do little or nothing with metal, adding a whole new dimension of beats to CD’s sound. The progressive part of percussion is not the only outstanding department in the drumming section, there are gravity blasts and stupidly fast double bass drums, everything brutal as fuck. The production is perfect, it lets you hear every instrument crystal clear 100% of the time; the sound engineer is a genius, it's not easy to give shape to music so noisy and intense in the studio. This album is one of my favorites of all time, undoubtedly. Make yourself a favor and listed to this!
Some bands in our modern metal scene have that natural ability to bring something new to the table likes bands such as Between the Buried and Me, and obviously Cattle Decapitation. The band is one of the most talented of our scene that its hard not to admire the work they craft out in records such as this one. Sure, they may have had their ups and downs with their first few records which were a mediocre attempt if you ask me, but in this one they've matured tremendously as they flesh out a lot more variety and taste that overall would please a listener such as myself. With that said, this is on my list of my favorite records of all time.
The production here is a bit muddy, but it fits well when you hear this band play. The tempo here is insanely fast that it's hard to catch up with on most songs. The drums would be a good example. Dave McGraw is just flying through the toms, accentuating every single second of the snare with those crazy ass gravity blasts and his style sometimes on this record is unorthodox its awesome!
Usually when I'm listening to an album, I always try to look for a lot of bass in a song, and in almost every song on this album, it's very prominent. Not to mention, its groovy and catchy as hell as it fits the overall sound of Cattle Decapitation, and their overall death grind style. One example that conveys this is the first few seconds of the intro from the song entitled, "Regret and the Grave". I really have nothing to say about the guitar work other than awesome and fantastic skill playing.
So much to be said about the vocals that I can't have enough of an eargasm listening to those shrieking, growling vocals of Travis Ryan. He's so consistent at what he does that in almost every song he sings in, nothing sounds boring. Every high and low vocal range is memorable on the album which for most vocalists I don't praise for and for that very reason, this guy is one of my favorite vocalists in modern metal
Overall this album is amazing. Yeah production may be muddy compared to their follow-up Monolith of Inhumanity, but this really foreshadows and hints at what this band is capable of doing. I can't really say which is my favorite track because I love all the songs on here as none sound like any fillers, but if I were to pick one that stands out above the rest it'd be the said mentioned, "Regret and the Grave". I can foresee this band's future as one that will be memorable for years to come.
I'm pretty sure that "progressive deathgrind" is an unusual combination of terms, and for a good reason. The scene is dominated by imitators, splashing around in the same puddles of gore and brutality their idols did before them. And that's where Cattle Decapitation steps in, shining like a stallion among hordes of muddy cattle. The band got lots of praise for their 2012 release Monolith of Inhumanity and even though I love the album, it's The Harvest Floor that deserves to be called their opus magnum.
The Harvest Floor is the first proper concept album by Cattle Decapitation and you can hear it already on the first listen. Every track is like a jigsaw puzzle piece, making up a consistent sequence of technical deathgrind songs. And what a deathgrind it is! When you hear that a band is technical, you expect the music to be calculated and cold, impressive yet with the human element being of secondary importance at best. The Harvest Floor is a brilliant exception to the rule though. It combines proper aggression of deathgrind with purely artistic approach to composition. Twisted parts of technical death metal are interspersed with clever and emotionally charged riffs and build-ups. Vocal parts by Travis Ryan are just like the music - brutal yet clever, complex yet passionate, varied yet consistent and most of all, completely inhuman...
It's an evocative and brave masterpiece of technical death metal, hands down. Fans of Cryptopsy's None So Vile and Once Was Not, Cephalic Carnage and Suffocation should love this, but this album actually can appeal to every fan of metal, no doubt about it. I haven't been mesmerized by a deathgrind album for a very long time but Cattle Decapitation have brought twisted riffs, frantic shrieks and blast beats back to my life. Thank you guys, thank you for the passion and conviction that what you believe in is right. Thank you for putting it all into this intriguing music. Listen to death metal - stay veggie!
TRACKS BY RATINGS: 10/10[masterpiece!!!]: We are Horrible People; The Product Alive; The Gardeners of Eden; The Ripe Beneath the Rind; Regret & the Grave || 9/10[fantastic!]: Tooth Enamel & Concrete; A Body Farm; Into the Public Bath || 8/10[great]: In Axetasy || OVERALL = 95/100
-- Originally written for Metal Music Archives [www.metalmusicarchives.com] --
I jumped into Cattle Decapitation's 2009 release The Harvest Floor without any background knowledge on the band or their releases - going off of what I know now based on the whopping three releases I've heard, the band started as a group that churned out some pretty cool deathgrind, turned into banal shit around the time Travis Ryan joined, and then turned into this somewhere between then and now. This is some pretty original stuff - could use polish in a few places, but I can see something nice resulting from this formula.
If you had to put a genre tag on the majority of the material on The Harvest Floor, you'd probably end up with something like melodic tech-death - the riffs are ever-so-slightly influenced by deathgrind in that the band get pretty grindy when they're on the lower strings, but Cattle Decapitation certainly aren't afraid to dabble in melodic, progressive death metal once in a while, particularly in the solos, as well as a couple slamming sections that hearken back to brutal death metal. Really, though, at its base, practically everything here could be described with "technical": the riffs have a weird sense of rhythm more often than not, pinch harmonics and Brain Drill melodies abound, and the end product, while relatively mid-paced as far as tech-death goes, feels like a churning, catalytic, almost self-propelled beast - the album has its flaws, but an organic feel to the riffs is not one of them.
I never thought I'd say this about any band, but the solos are one of my favorite parts of this album. They're pretty expertly constructed, having a sense of flow just like the rest of the song, and expand upon the basic melodies of the song without sounding like disorganized meandering sessions shoved into the middles of the songs for the sake of metal tradition. They also feature the band's signature flair of demented, dissonance that pops up pretty often in the riffs as well - they give off an atmosphere that fits with the band's imagery: a crude slaughterhouse full of rotting animal carcasses, viewed with a sort of pathetic tone...a grotesque lamentation. Suffice to say, as someone who thinks most solos in metal are a bunch of hogwash, I can say that the ones exhibited on this album are really impressive.
Travis Ryan's vocals all-in-all aren't the kind that I personally think would suit this sort of music, but they're pretty damn unique. Death growls are mostly scrapped in favor of a low, gravelly and anthemic yell, and they're usually layered with another beast - the screams. The raspy, wet, distinctly mammalian shrieks on this album are certainly impressive in terms of their execution, and when they're given a moment to shine by themselves, like on the bridge of "Regret & the Grave" or the chorus of "The Product Alive", they carry the band's metaphorical flag valiantly. The vocalist is also, miraculously, able to inject melody (or a vague sense of it, anyways) into these shrieks: both of the aforementioned musical passages, during which the higher vocals take the front seat, demonstrate this, and it gives them a very eerie, distant feeling which sends shivers up my spine on the right day. There are also a couple of brutal death-influenced gurgles that pop up in various places, and to be honest I think the album could have been quite a bit better if had Travis scrapped his shouts in place of these sorts of vocals, or, generally speaking, a consistently low, Matti Way-esque approach. The shouts are well-done considering what they are, don't get me wrong, but they hardly sound like proper vocals for a death metal band of any sort.
With the rest of my musical tastes in mind it's really no surprise that my favorite songs off of The Harvest Floor are the ones that adhere closer to the standards of modern technical/brutal death metal, from the slower, more complex and grotesque "The Ripe Beneath the Rind" to the much faster, more straightforward (yet still relatively technical and dissonant) songs "Into the Public Bath" and "Tooth Enamel and Concrete". The rest of the material is pretty consistently good, but it fails to grab me by the balls like those three songs do. Furthermore, the drumming isn't as experimental and progressive as it could be - everything's predictable, from the gravity blasts during the spastic changes in tempo to the fills during the musical transitions, and considering how spastic and technical the riffs are, it's a bit disappointing to see the album's drumming adhering to the genre's standards that the songwriters try so hard to break. Last but certainly not least, the guitar tone needs a pretty drastic overhaul - its clean, mostly play-it-safe presence works perfectly during the solos and melodic passages, but when the band decides to play a deathgrind riff, or even worse, a slam, it's about as threatening as a legless, retarded kitten. I'm not saying that bands should either go with Torsofuck's guitar tone or not play anything brutal death ever, but come on, this is pretty ridiculous.
All in all, this is a decent piece of work, and songwriting-wise I don't have many complaints, so this is actually only a few snippets here and there from being a timeless classic. It's worth a listen if you want some decent tech-death that doesn't try to appeal to you via mindlessly pummeling you into oblivion... though, really, I kind of wish this album had.
My friends, let me tell you; disposing of bodies can be a tiresome task. This single fact means that you need someone there to help you out after you pump up the slaughterhouse, right?
Cattle Decapitation, my favourite goregrind band ever, is here to save the day! Well, sort of.... "The Harvest Floor" is a very solid record that takes the improvements and evolutions that the band went through with "Karma.Bloody.Karma" and gestates them into something... wonderful. Travis Ryan's vocals bear the carnal might of a thousand of the most ferocious dinosaurs, and while dinos have nothing to do with the album's theme or meaning, they sure do sound like Travis Ryan. The drumwork features gravity blasts and a general air of creepiness that really suits the band's style. The guitarwork is asynchronous at times, but these choices are stylistic and only serve to further the band's well-crafted atmosphere as they take listeners on a journey through animalistic human behaviour and cruelty. Whether or not "The Harvest Floor" is a thematic album is up in the air, but a definitive inspiration to the lyrics of the songs within is human corruption and religion. Although this seems to be a big centre that many death metal bands revolve around (see Whitechapel, Dying Fetus), Cattle Decapitation's take on it is interesting, if only because they sound more refined and more brutal than past attempts. This isn't an album you're likely to forget.
The opening track, "The Gardeners of Eden", is five minutes and thirty-nine seconds of atmospheric brutality. After the mood-setting introduction, the track digresses into a shrieking fury as Travis bellows over the raging guitars. This all may sound like a wall of noise at first, but it quickly takes form and shows off Cattle Decapitation's more polished side of things. "A Body Farm", the second track, is bound to give you those creeping-up-your-back feelings that you get when you witness something totally awesome. This song clearly shows that Cattle Decapitation is a no-holds-barred band, opening with a rage more furious than the introductory track. Side note: I'd recommend watching the full music video for this song, because it's awesome.
If human corruption wasn't apparent by now, the third song makes it apparent in the track title; "We Are Horrible People". This is also a notable track - though perhaps not worthy of highlight status - because up until now, the vocal style heard before their 2007 entry "Karma.Bloody.Karma" has been unused, or used very rarely. The next few tracks use it quite frequently, and it sounds better than ever with the industrial and spooky atmosphere created in "The Harvest Floor". It all comes together, and although the band has made significant improvements, nothing really radical happens until track nine - the title track - which is a pseudo-instrumental and features the chorus voice of a woman with underlayed screaming occasionally thrown in. While it's not an intensely fast or grinding instrumental, it is invoking of feelings and conveys despair and hopelessness, perhaps better than the traditional Cattle Decapitation formulae. This is probably the reason they decided to include it, and finale track "Regret and the Grave" builds straight off of the instrumental's ending. This last track is incredibly thought-provoking, especially when you look up the lyrics, and the atmospheric guitar and drumwork make it the most depressing Cattle Decapitation song to date. The last two tracks really showed me that the band wasn't afraid of breaking the mold they'd created. They're still very much intent on creating a listenable and incredible sound to help convey their points of view, and they aren't afraid of taking risks with their instrumental or vocal chemistry to do so.
All in all, I'm impressed by what Cattle Decapitation brought to the table with this record (and I'm not solely referring to the dead bodies, either), and I recommend this to all who enjoy death metal in its goriest and purest form.
1.) "The Gardeners of Eden"
2.) "A Body Farm"
9.) "The Harvest Floor"
10.) "Regret and the Grave"
Attempting to play a progressive form of a genre known for simplicity is very brave, and it can either be an absolute disaster or one of the best things ever recorded. Thankfully, this is the latter. Cattle Decapitation have managed to do something that most bands would fail at immediately. Take progressive death metal, take goregrind, and combine them to make a fantastic album.
Travis Ryan is still a fantastic vocalist, combining guttural brutal death metal growls and grunts with high pitched grindcore shrieks. He sounds truly ferocious, angry and very violent. The lyrics deal with typical Cattle Decapitation subject matter, and that is the mistreatment of animals and how humans would feel in their place. While i'm an avid meat-eater, I can't help but agree with the points they raise, however, some might see this as typical vegetarian bullshit in a musical form.
The complex guitar riffs combined with the ambient parts provide a dark and quite haunting atmosphere on the release. For one track, which the album is named after, the band actually a play a whole track of ambient with guest vocals from the singer from Swans. There are no lyrics, and one just imagines a scene similar to the one on the album cover. The humans being led into the slaughterhouse to be killed like swine, which fades into the closer, Regret and the Grave, perfectly. The drums are reasonably technical, while still ultra-fast and possibly triggered. However, they have a very clicky tone, which a lot of Metal Blade albums suffer from. Still, despite being very clicky, they're very well played and should please the grindcore fanatics that look for pure speed on the drums.
Perhaps the best performer on the album is bassist Troy Oftedal. He is truly a very skilled bassist and could rank with the likes of Alex Webster and Steve DiGiorgio. He provides some complex basslines and fills that really sound amazing. He also provides intros to some of the tracks, such as opener The Gardeners of Eden and closer Regret and the Grave.
This is a very solid release, with enough progressive complexity to please the prog fanboys looking for something more extreme than Opeth and enough grind and gore to please the Exhumed/Carcass fanboys.
Highlights: A Body Farm, Regret and the Grave, The Product Alive
Cattle Decapitation has come a long way from their first album 'Ten Torments of the Damned' which was a collection of minute long power violence blast beats and short guitar riffs behind shrieked vocals. Then onto their stripped down goregrind approach, to more of a technical death/grind sound, and finally, to this pure masterpiece. Whether you like them for their pro-animal rights and environment message, or you just love the sound, everybody has something to go for on this record. I am the kind of guy that when I get a new CD, I love to read the lyrics with them and I was really glad to see that Travis kept writing the same angry, misanthropic, hate filled songs that I saw on Humanure and Karma.Bloody.Karma. There was not much I could do other than just listen.
Travis Ryan is one of the vocalists that I strive to sound like, and damn is it tough. The band layered his high grindcore-esque vocals on his guttural goregrind growl and both are hard to match. Together though, you get the violent gore obsessed sound that they go for and do oh so well. I can tell through the lyrics that Ryan has evolved a lot as a person through his words, and he focuses more on his misanthropy and ideologies than just the mutilation of mankind (such as the songs 'Regret and the Grave' and 'We Are Horrible People'). Although the killing is still present, it is there in more of a... shall I say mature way? It is like comparing Morbid Angel to Belphegor. Morbid Angel is on a higher, more classic plane of satanism whereas Belphegor is on an inferior "inflict pain, sodomize women" level. If that makes sense. Ryan's lyrics have taken a deeper, more ideological approach on 'The Harvest Floor' and I just cannot get enough of it. With so much on his vocals being presented, I must also acknowledge the title track 'The Harvest Floor' which has guest vocals by the singer for Swans. It creates a dark, haunting instrumental melody (no lyrics) that sets up the last track quite nicely. And it also brings a new sound to the album instead of pure blastbeats and complex guitar riffs.
I never realized just how amazing the drums are on this album until I listened to it through extremely clear headphones and I can hear every beat. The drummer is in my top 5 all time favorites. The guitarist didn't reach his maximum potential because I feel like something was missing (hence a score of 95) although I'm not sure what. I think the guitars just got dare I say, old? after 9 tracks of it. Don't get me wrong, they are still damn good and better than most of the crappy new death metal bands coming out now, but they should have been another dimension to it like there was with everything else.
The Good: The lyrics are deep and well thought out with the general aesthetic and sound of the band, and everything goes well together.
The Bad: Not much to say, just a step away from their maximum potential.
The Bottom Line: If you do not own this album, you need to. I don't care if you pirate your music, this is a must have for any grindcore / death metal enthusiasts collection.
Review originally posted at http://www.teethofthedivine.com by Erik Thomas
With 2006s Karma. Bloody. Karma, San Diego’s Vegetarian grinders added a sickly pallor to their chaotic deathgrind, and while that element seem to have been reigned in and the cleaner tones of Humanure and To Serve Man making a return, the resulting balance between sludgy oozing throes and deft caustic grindcore makes for an album that sees Cattle Decapitation further elevate their actual musical status.
When I say The Harvest Floor is cleaner than KBK, I should clarify its in production only as Billy Anderson’s production seems less earthy and dirty, perhaps aided by Zach Ohren drum recording? However, musically, The Harvest Floor is, like KBK, a volatile and disturbing musical assault that melds the expected blasting, squealing trappings of deathgrind, the band’s sociopolitical, Vegan diatribes and Travis Ryan’s snot spewing, truly other worldly vocals.
The band’s development from PETA’s death metal mouthpiece to a truly evolved act has been impressive, and The Harvest Floor, while less experimental than KBK, still oozes with a truly sickening atmosphere and presence that matches the band’s fervent idealogy. Throw in guest appearances from Jarboe (Swans), Jackie Perez Gratz (Grayceon) and Ross Sewage (Impaled) and the resultant album finally fulfills the potential and growth that the band has hinted at for a little over a decade.
Bookending the album are two more varied, moody standouts featuring the guest performers in various, more prominent capacities: opener “The Gardeners of Eden” and closer “Regret & the Grave” are perfect tempo setters in the albums overall guise with Jarboe’s haunting shrieks and Gratz’s solemn cello accenting the discerning melodies, scrawling fervor, brittle blast beats and psychotic vegetarian atmospherics. In between, there plenty of more direct grinding, death metal slice and dice with ample stuttering, lurching and heaving throes as heard on “A Body Farm”, “Tooth Enamel” (as a dento-phobe, that opening sample makes my skin crawl) “In Axetasy”, “The Ripe Beneath the Rind” and “Into the Public Bath” that seem to be the missing link between Cephalic Carnage, Naplam Death, Autopsy, a PETA infomercial and the infamous ‘cow in a meat grinder’ footage.
Another quality release from a band that was once considered somewhat of a gimmick, but now the band’s political intensity is matched by their musical offerings.
Want a pretty tasty slab of pseudo-progressive grindcore from a band who's been around long enough to know what they're doing? Look no further than Cattle Decapitation's blistering release “The Harvest Floor”. It's not their best album, but close to it. Better than the album before it, “The Harvest Floor” will have you banging your head one minute and then trying to figure out how the band members keep the insane technicality in check while maintaining the ridiculous speed. And there are a few surprises that we haven't heard from Cattle before.
The first thing I thought of upon hearing this album was about how much more progressive this album is compared to their other releases. No longer just straight-forwad goregrind/death metal, Cattle uses several time-signature changes and interesting use of their instruments to create a mind-numblingly complex tornado of musical ability. This is most apparent on the song “The Ripe Beneath The Rind” with it's killswitched guitars sounding off behind Travis Ryan's inhuman vocals or the almost prog-quality solo included about halfway through the song, although you can find it in just about every song. Think of this album's incarnation of Cattle Decapitation as metal's version of The Dillinger Escape Plan but can also hold it's own against death metal stalwarts as well.
It should be stated and re-stated that this band has some serious musicians in it. First and foremost, Travis Ryan's performance all but solidifies his place in extreme metal as one of the best current vocalists out there. He about hits the lower and upper boundaries of his vocal range in almost every song and comes off as a deranged madman throughout it all. Absolutely splended. The drummer, David McGraw, makes use of the hyperblast on several songs (see the beginning of The Gardeners Of Eden) and pulls it off quite well. Not up to par with John Lengstreth, but close. The bass player and guitar player are fantastic as well, but they pretty much have always been solid.
There's really only one flaw to this album: If you're not paying too much attention, it's really easy to miss the transition to another song and still think you're on the previous. It's not that the songs themselves aren't memorable, but some of them segue into eachother without a huge change in style. However, the lyrics themselves are above Cattle Decapitation's standards and are a delight to read through. “Into The Public Baths” might be the sickest song ever written.
This album will satisfy long-term fans of the band and is a great starting point for new fans. Things are looking very bright for the future of these misanthropes.
Highlights: A Body Farm, The Ripe Beneath The Rind, Tooth Enamel And Concrete, Into The Public Bath
We live in a strange day and age when full-on underground goregrind gains some popularity. Perhaps some of you are familiar with some of the most underground of goregrind - essentially death/grind with gory lyrics and usually ultra-low death burps. Ah, but there was always something different about Cattle Decapitation, most notably their vegetarian views, but there were a few odds and ends they kept adding to their formula as they grew.
Beyond the standard death metal standards, such as tremolo picked riffs, double-bass beats, blasting, huge tempo shifts, the death growls, and even a few nods to old-school death grind with some power-chord running, the band does attempt experimentation within every song, from strange arpeggios to dissonant oddities, even a space effect here and there. However, there are problems abound in the recording, as the flat production prevents the instruments and delivery from sounding either powerful or raw. Vocalist Travis Ryan doesn’t seem to have a powerful low growl which he uses it as his mainstay voice, though he does veer off often. Again, perhaps its the recording that prevents the power from flowing, although I can say the way he experiments with his wide range of screams all the way down to death burps often meshed together with vocal layering is interesting.
The delivery of the music itself seems to be lacking some conviction and catchiness, as it seems the band went with the riffs they started off with when first writing the songs, and didn’t take the time to work them through. Its almost as the emotion coming through from the writing suggests the band was bored when creating “The Harvest Floor”.
The experimentation within every song is actually quite commendable, so that certainly doesn’t hinder the action. Travis Ryans vocals could also be a valuable asset with the wide range, if it were not for the weakness in the actual vocal tone. All that’s really required is more passion behind the sonic delivery and a proper production style to fit the music, be it a powerful slick job, or underground and raw.
Originally posted at www.waytooloud.com