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"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