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To serve bland - 54%

GuardAwakening, June 2nd, 2013

Seems like Cattle Decapitation's mid-range evolvement as a grind band to a death metal band kind of had an ugly transition as they became more death metal influenced. Previous albums before this that include Homovore, Human Jerky and their 1997 released demo CD Ten Torments of the Damned were all upon the impact as a grind band rather than death metal, but here with To Serve Man, Cattle D inquired a complete half and half influence of both grind and death metal before being a tad bit more death metal influence than grind in later albums that succeeded this one and to put it bluntly; this album is appealing in some aspects, but not so much in the others. It's almost as if a grindcore band are trying their best to play death metal but don't know how or otherwise; can't properly decide which one to play and aren't exactly sure how to combine the two. I'm a huge fan of Cattle Decapitation so reviewing this disappointing record almost leaves a bit of sadness in me toward the fact that I have to bring down one of their works.

Basically the Ten Torments of the Damned demo was a 100% grindcore release before the band even had the legendary Travis Ryan as vocalist. 10 songs, but just 8 minutes long and all the chaos you could pack into one '90s grind demo album. Proceeding that, the band added a tiny bit of death metal into their sound with the release of Human Jerky, which is pretty decent in my opinion, but the mess that this album is came about from their transition of being slightly more of a DM band, which isn't a bad thing, but is bad if you don't know how to do it correctly. Not all is at fault however, Ryan's vocals shine on this release like they always have. His juicy guttural growls layered with raspy screams are once again here. The at-the-time new guitarist the band had, Josh Elmore is also the sub-shining star on this release. He pulls off chaotic riffs and a couple solos from track to track almost bearing to the likes reminiscent of Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.). Even Troy Oftedal's bass playing retains some audibility and alright performance, the production may make his playing a bit fuzzy in the mix but not to much to complain about since this seemed to be a typical element for bass guitarists in earlier death metal albums. I can compliment the cold production on this release. It's a personal highlight in my book given to the fact that the usual 2002 production methods could have made this album sound much clearer... but in some cases, would ruin its grind vibe.

So now you're probably thinking why did I praise this album so much in a full paragraph and then talk about how much of a disappointment it is a paragraph before this? Well, I'll make it simple, it's the goddamned drumming. The drumming on this album is so monotonously awful that I would even go as far to say that it ruins the album. The drumming is such a weak performance that I think even a 12 year old could play better and as if that's not enough, the snare is usually way too high in the mix making his playing even more unbearable. Dave Astor (at least in today's standards) is not a bad drummer, I think his playing in Pathology is almost impressive. But here, he is absolutely awful and his playing on here is probably one of the worst drumming performances I've ever heard. He literally just wails on the snare/hi hat in coordination to create a blast beat on every fucking song and it almost gets to the point in your head where you ask yourself "is he ever gonna do anything different?" Astor ruins this album, and if I could, I would go back in time to 2002 and go into the recording studio and slap all four members of Cattle D in the face along with the producer and say "GET A NEW FUCKING DRUMMER AND RE-RECORD THESE SONGS. HE'S RUINING THIS RECORD."

All in all, To Serve Man would have been an above-average extreme metal album if it wasn't for the god awful drumming and I would have likely given it a score by the high 70s or 80s if it didn't feature percussion as monotonously awful. I can say at least that To Serve Man is not horrible and it's not exactly an album I would call "bad" either. But it does lie in the line of something I would call bland, disappointing and definitely Cattle Decapitation's worst album. They're a suburb band, but with skinswork like this, it just doesn't work. However, if you want at least a few momentous songs on here, try going for "Long-Pig Chef and the Hairless Goat" for its odd time signature grove that it has at the beginning of it. Or go for "Pedestrians" for its greatly executed guitar solo and amazing dynamics throughout. BUT if you're just discovering Cattle Decapitation for the first time, please for the love of all that's holy, considering going for their Humanure or Monolith of Inhumanity albums instead.

A Maggot-Filled Pile of Excrement - 25%

VilliThorne, March 20th, 2012

"To Serve Man" is a huge pile of maggot-filled excrement that self-devours any and all good that it may contain. Devoid of anything but ruthless grinding, be prepared to hear the same exact drumbeat repeated numerous times. The audio quality is on par for its time, unlike previous releases. From a lyrical aspect, the album is much more intelligent and twisted, but sadly the guitar overrides the vocal track in a lot of cases. With no more than a few memorable songs at best, this album will leave one begging for it to end.

Having not been well received in the past, California-based grindcore band Cattle Decapitation managed to put out one demo, a Spanish three track single known as "Decapitacion!" and two eps before finally writing a solid full-length release. With previous material lasting anywhere from 2-22 minutes, "To Serve Man" offers up the largest chunk of decapitated cattle at the time of its release.

The album begins with with an audio snippet of what sounds like someone getting drowned and then quickly descends into a crazed track about mutilating someones testicles. On par for its time, the audio quality is greatly improved in comparison to "Ten Torments of the Damned" and "Human Jerky". This finally allows the listener to hear more of the guitar rather than just muffled distortion, one downside being that there is an incredible lack of skill demonstration and variances by newly initiated guitarist Josh Elmore, causing the material to become really boring real fast. The mixing done on the guitar track is abhorrent, and many times largely overtakes the vocals which leads to the material sounding cluttered, as the two vocal tracks are layered over each other throughout 95% of the material present.

Alongside Josh Elmore, Troy Oftedal makes his debut appearance as bassist. Unfortunately the bass track is mixed so detrimentally low that the listener must strain their hearing to catch a line here or there. As for drumming, you're looking at a maximum of three different drumbeats that will pummel the eardrum and leave one begging for mercy and wishing it would just end. As well, there are a few intermediate level drum rolls for filler when nothing else seems to fit, and this is a welcomed break from the grueling torture of the repetitive snare-based beats.

Lyrically, "To Serve Man" has a raunchy, horrifying story to tell and those that listen closely and follow along will enjoy these attributes, but as mentioned prior the guitar likes to overthrow and distract from the two vocal tracks that overlay each other. One being high pitched and fast, with the other being low, slow and guttural. Despite a good attempt, this is pulled off very poorly as the material already suffers from being gorged and bloated, there is too much going on to maintain any sort of attention span without using dire concentration. This leaves the listener free to drift away from the music, and daydream about better things that could be listened to, such as flatulence or projectile vomiting.

Though "To Serve Man" is not all piss and diarrhea, some of the more noteworthy tracks consist of "Land of the Severed Meatus", "Everyone Deserves to Die" and "Chunk Blower", the latter which could easily be the most original and catchy song of the entire 13 tracks. The title song is also fairly well done, and is one of the more well known tracks of this album. The very few songs within this full-length that severely push the use of the word "good" are few and far between, and even getting far enough into the material to hear these tracks is a grueling chore.

Cattle Decapitation's first full-length release is nearly 35 minutes of full blown excruciating audible torture. The vaguely good elements of the material are powerfully overshadowed by pathetic entry level drumming and bad mixing that leaves a feeling of sore relief once it's over.

- Villi Thorne
www.villithorne.blogspot.com

Pretty much completely unnecessary - 36%

Noktorn, March 6th, 2007

Earlier Cattle Decapitation is like a jigsaw puzzle for retards: despite the fact that all the pieces are present, you can not for the life of you make them fit together properly. No more can one see the case than on their debut LP, 'To Serve Man', which has the wretched combination of numerous decent ideas marred by the most haphazard stitching of said ideas into collections of riffs and blasts that they have the dubious honor of being called 'songs'. Ugh, this album is such a frustrating listen that it's almost not worth it.

Well, almost. There's a hell of a lot of cool ideas, but dear god do you have to pick through it. To quote Jeff Green of Computer Gaming World: "It's like having to chew through a dump truck of dead mice to get the twenty dollar bill at the bottom." I can't think of a more apt description of this album: despite how awesome songs such as the title track or 'Deadmeal' are, you have to deal with two utterly generic and lifeless death/grind tracks like 'Writhe In Putressence' to get to such treasures. Even more terrible, every song has at least a couple decent riffs or vocal passages, which makes the ensuing boredom that much more odious and disappointing.

Considering the skill of the members involved, this album's failure is particularly surprising. There's an obscenely large number of riffs per song, many of which are quite acrobatic in nature. Drumming, while mostly binary blasting in nature, is clearly very skilled and could do much more with a pinch of, oh, imagination, perhaps? Perhaps what does it is the fact that every element, no matter how good sounding, somehow manages to be used in a remarkably annoying fashion. Case in point: Travis Ryan's vocal performance, which somehow manages to be the most irritating I can think of, and yet by really no fault of his own! No, the obnoxiousness is derived from the quite literally non-stop high/low double-tracking, resulting in a painfully sloppy, unfocused sound throughout the album.

Probably the only thing that saves this album is the dramatic improvement in quality, at least on certain songs, that takes place after the first half has trudged through your ears. The songs after and including the title track are, for the most part, much more unique and well defined even occasionally stumbling into territory that could be defined as 'good'. It's too bad that songs like 'Chunk Blower' have to be surrounded by so much terrible, terrible crap that most people simply aren't going to have the patience or inclination to wade through for the few flickers of brilliance that this album holds.

Cattle Decapitation fans are some of the most ridiculously devoted ones in the metal scene, so obviously this opinion won't dissuade anyone already enamored with the Cult Of The Cow. However, most people would be inclined to simply skip this and head to one of the later (and much better) LPs for their vegan death/grind fix.

Typical typical typical - 45%

silver_monkey, February 20th, 2007

All of my friends rant and rave about this band, so I wanted to check out why. After listening to their first release, "To Serve Man", I still have no idea why.

I'll start off by saying that this in no way is groundbreaking or special. It's standard death/grind. If your're a fan of stuff along the lines of Napalm Death, Necrophagist, or other similar bands, you may enjoy this as well.

The music is not interesting at all, the drums especially. It's almost as if they were using a drum machine to record with because they utilize the exact same drum beat in almost every single song. A couple of variations here and there but it always goes back to that standard boring blast beat. The guitar and bass work are equally nothing special. The boring drums seem to take the forefront here.

The vocals also show no variation what so ever. The typical gurgling death growl is on display for the entire course of the album. Lyric-wise, once again typical typical typical gorey lyrics about dead people and/or killing and eating them and others.

The one song on here that is slighty better then the rest is the last track, Chunk Blower. It starts off with a sinister riff and the vocals actually go from gutteral death growls to a slighty higher pitched death growl. But one song alone cannot possibly save a whole aldum of blandness.

Overall, this album is very boring standard stuff. If you don't like to be entertained or even interested while listening to your music, then this is the album for you!

if you like cannibal corpse you'll like this album - 74%

Shadow0fDeath, May 28th, 2004

While this album i consider mediocre i still really enjoy listening to it. It reminds me especially of Cannibal Corpse who i really enjoy myself. San Diego's Cattle Decapitation has pulled off a good album with this work and i can't wait to check out the next one. I actually like blast beat drumming, works best on this. you wouldn't want say Jazz drumming or latin percussion in a goregrind album would you? No didn't think so.

The guitarist is pretty talented to play at the speeds they play at. And must have a good memory, on this album the songs go through at least 10-20 different riffs. Changing every 10-30 seconds in each 3 minute song. Also the solos in a few of their songs get your attention, especially if it blurs out because it can be somewhat generic.

I'll admit like others the album can get generic but give it a few good listens and it's actually a pretty good goregrind album. The guitarist and vocalist get the most credit for the greatness of this album though. While those fast speeds are going on in drum and guitar land the vocalist lets out some of the most br00tal vokills i've heard. Also he sounds like two vocalists going at once in some parts. No vocals effects are used on this album. But i'm not sure if he tracks 2 vocals or what, oh well. Overall good album.

Notable songs: Testicular manslaughter, Everyone deserves to die, i eat your skin, to serve man, pedeadstrians

Averagest of the average - 67%

Spawnhorde, April 18th, 2004

What we have here are 13 tracks of crazy deathgrind. Nothing innovative at all, and not seeming to be the innovative type, Cattle Decapitation apparently strived to create a masterpiece and ended up making one of the most mediocre CDs I have in my collection. The drum beat is a constant blastbeat, most of the time, broken up only slightly by some "O.K." fills and some alright galloping-style passages. It's just that blastbeat that gets to me the most out of almost everything on the album. It's like no blast I've ever heard, it's just...annoying. They could have done this nearly instantly with a drum machine, but, appallingly, they have a human drummer. Some of the tracks harbor really good riffs, but most are just obtrusive and not special at all. The solos are mostly uninspired with the occasional "good thing that doesn't last long" solo thrown in for good/bad measure. Listening to this album in one go is almost mind-blowingly dull. This is a prime example of an album that is pretty alright to listen to IN PIECES. Listening to it all in a row will make you want to kill yourself because of the generic beats and overall similarity of the songs. I also hate the dual vocals. I realize that they're trying to sound good, and trying really hard, but sometimes trying too hard is a bad thing. The album also suffers from incredible overproduction syndrome. To Serve Man's production is IMMACULATE compared to most deathgrind out there currently, and it's not a good thing at all. Everything is too evenly spaced and sounds 2-dimensional. Put the drums back in the mix and bring out the bass and guitar more and I'll THINK about giving them a 75 or so, but otherwise this isn't worth your time. Go get Exhumed's Anatomy Is Destiny instead.

A big disappointment. - 10%

DeathDragon, December 3rd, 2003

I just don't get the attraction to this band. These guys can play quite well, but their song writing skills are extremely bad. Each song on here sounds pretty much the same, with no progression or development what-so-ever. And that's the real dissappointment, because this band sounds like they could be really good. Each song is like a bunch of bland riffs strung together in an intentionally bad order.

The production is also quite bad. It is very clear, dry, and unorganized as though they recorded all the tracks digitally and made no attempt to produce or mix them at all. The drums sound like a drum machine, even though this band has a drummer. The vocals are horrible. Sounds like a group of pigs and monkeys grunting into the mics. And they're way over dominating compared to the rest of the music. Not a good sound at all.

This is the kinda stuff that gives goregrind a bad name. What a waste of $16 this disc was. Avoid it and you'll be fine.

Insanity - 85%

purerockfury, September 21st, 2003

the San Diego gore manifesto that is Cattle Decapitation have finally made it to the metal masses with their Metal Blade Debut "to serve man" Combining elements of text book death metal with gore/gring along with old school thrash, these mad men have brought forth an album worthy of any true metal head. If any of you know the band from previous records (Homovore and Human Jerky, both albums are definetally worth checking out), this album is a huge step for the band. They continued to bring distrubing images of disturbing anatomy and disease, but extend their song from >60 second head rush 3 minute masterpieces. Any fan of carcass and cannibal corpse will not deny the greatness of Cattle Decapitation. This is a huge step for the band and it only gets better from here. if you are looking for something fast, brutal and full of gore, this is the album for you. Beware Cannibal Corpse (along with Exhumed and Impaled, Cattle Decapitation is coming your way.

Insane! - 76%

KRISIUN69filth, September 20th, 2003

Well, This is the debut album from the California foursome, Cattle Decapitation. The basic concept behind Cattle Decapitation is a fairly simple and overused one in the goregrind genre. Non - stop blasting of double bass drums with no really purpose other than sounding like garbage cans being pummeled with drum sticks. Although, David Aster blasts away constantly there are a few drum rolls and moments like in Track 3 "Writhe In Putressence," where the blasting occasionally stops.

As for the over all songs, they all sound exactly the same. 2 and a half minute blasting songs with, in my own opinion, the worst growling vocalist out there. Travis Ryan just sounds like he breathes really heavy into the microphone, and always in the back round of each song there's some screechy, annoying, and stupid black metalish yells. As for Travis' lyric writing ability, he gets an A+. Gore filled romps about eating dead people, Killing Pedestrians, and cutting off the testicles of a rapist in the greatest song on this album, Testicular Manslaughter.

The bass guitar played by Troy Oftedal is barely even recognizable, and gets lost in the shuffle behind the growling vocals, blasting drums, and the best part of Cattle Decapitation, the guitar playing of Josh Elmore. Josh needs to be in a band that will better his showcasing of terrific guitar work. The guitar first guitar riff of the song "To serve man" and the two separate guitar solos at the 2:15 point of the title track, show just how talented he can be if given a better opportunity.

All in all, Cattle Decapitation puts up 13 song of blasting goregrind, but in a few songs decent musicians come out and showcase how talented the can be.

Highlights of this album:

Track 7: To Serve Man
Track 1: Testicular Manslaughter

Sorry, I didn't like it. - 48%

megafury, July 24th, 2003

Whenever I put this album in my Cd player, I don't feel like listening to music anymore. The album gets really boring fast. It's heavy, really heavy, but this is a case where being heavy doesn't contribute to how good the music is. All I hear is growls and fast drumming. Theres not that many guitar solos, just a lot of pounding drums, it's gives me a pounding headache. I got this album for $2, cheapest CD that I ever bought. Good thing I got it cheap from when Wherehouse was closing down or I would be pissed about spending $10, which is the regular price.

I don't want to sound like a jerk but It's bad enough I lost $2, if it was higher, that would have sucked. I regret using $2 to purchase this growling and fast drumming CD, every song sounds the same. I don't even know why each track has a different name, they should all be called "drums and growls". The name of this album is called, "To Serve Man"....they forgot the other part of the title though, "....generic drums and growls." That should be the title of this album, "To Serve Man generic drums and growls".

I'll still give credit where credit is due, it sounds hard to do the vocals and the CD said there was no vocal effects involved so I'll give them props for that but it still doesn't amuse me. Sorry, didn't like it.

I like Cephalic Carnage, Vehemence, Dying Fetus, Cryptopsy, Pig Destroyer, bands that fall into the same category, I suggest people check them out before Cattle Decapitation if they haven't already.

I didn't like this album but that's just me, if you ever get the oppurtunity, hear it for yourself, theres a slight chance you might like it more than me.

Excellent - 93%

mpazzkikr23, February 21st, 2003

While searching through my local CD store one day, I came across this album. I had only heard one song off of it, but decided to pick it up anyway, hoping the rest would be the same. (And hey, it was only $10...) I took it home, put it in my stereo, and proceeded to be blown away. This CD is amazing. The music is great and the vocals are killer. Travis Ryan has got to be one of the best death vocalists out there, in my opinion.

The CD kicks right off with "Testicular Manslaughter," a song about vengeance on a rapist (Read the lyrics to see what I mean...hoo boy). This is one of the best songs on the album. Everything is great about this song. Ryan's guttural vocals are awesome, and the little guitar solo in the middle is cool.

We go right into "I Eat Your Skin," another excellent song. Fast and brutal, this one is over with in under 2 minutes.

Next up is "Writhe in Putressence." This song starts off with a nice deep growl and goes on from there. This song has some of the deepest vocals I've ever heard and the music is excellent, as always.

The rest of the album is basically the same: unbelievable death vocals, killer guitar riffs, and fast as fuck drums. In short, I'd recommend this album to anyone who's a fan of death metal, or even metal in general. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Highlights: Testicular Manslaughter, Pedeadstrians

-mpazzkikr23