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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.