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Are you Cattle Decapitation? - 34%

GodOfMalice, October 17th, 2020
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, Three One G Records

Cattle Decapitation. Today that names rings out across the metal scene and typically conjures up thoughts of majestic deathgrind created by a gaggle of talented vegetarians. Their three most recent outputs are argued to be their apex and their material, style, musicianship and just about everything else is one of a kind. Regarding the beginning of their musical career however, the inverse is true. Human Jerky, the debut of Cattle D. is a mess of an album, the definition of a humble beginning. It’s a bizarre, oddly acted beast of a debut that has some ideas but executes them as subtly as a captive bolt pistol. If a Cattle Decap album that opens with a Ghostbusters sample doesn’t clue you in to quality of music beholden, you might wanna skip ahead ten years’ worth of albums.

Speaking of an out of place sample, let’s start with what Cattle Decap is good at: setting the tone and mood. Well the tone and mood here suck. It’s not for a lack thereof, it’s just goofy, immature and stereotypical of underground grindcore bands. A culmination of aspects creates this lackluster mood, from the performances, to the music, to the lyrics, and to the last track as well! The most egregious perpetrator is sole remaining member, Travis Ryan and his vocals. Travis too damn hard to sound brutal and inhuman, not attempting to enunciate half the time and showing off his gutturals. His gimp shrieks also don’t have any balls to them, most likely the reason he just layers them on top of his gutturals as a way of hiding how bad they are. It’s not a horrible performance in a vacuum, but at a certain point all the vocals blend without any standout moments. The lyrics are also a detriment to match the performance. It’s choked full of “gross” lingo to create “graphic detail” and nothing else. It’s like they played morbid scrabble with an anatomy textbook and made an album out of it.

The music was surprisingly better than I remembered, but not a gross margin. Honestly, I expected music totally unrecognizable to the Cattle D I know today but here and there rings the technicality and progressive elements that heighten the experience. It’s mostly in the riffs but they even fuck that up as well. They shot themselves in the foot with how short these songs are and they try to shove as much technicality they could into them. Granted, they play their asses off, only to race towards the end of the song as fast as they can whilst showcasing their progressive capacity. There’s never enough room for the song to breath or to take in an interesting riff. It’s just riff after riff accompanied by some decent, albeit amateur drumming and Travis’ word vomit. However, you can see the blueprints of modern Cattle in some tracks, like a light in the cow’s asshole. The track ‘Flesh-Eating Disease’ has the progressive breakdown we all know and love and… that’s it. I’ll admit it, it’s a bare bones blueprint. The best tracks are funnily enough, both taken from the ‘Ten Torments’ demo, that being the aforementioned and ‘Parasitic Infestation’. ‘Roadkill Removal Technician’ is also pretty good, mostly because I can understand what the fuck Travis is saying.

So how does it all sound? Ehhhhh, shitty. It’s got the early 90s American death metal sound that comes off as cheap and horribly unoriginal. The guitars have no punch or grit and frankly annoy me at times with how unpleasant they sound. The bass is nonexistent, and the drums are as stock grindcore as it gets. The cherry on the cattle cake is the ending to this wobbly debut: a crank call, harassing some meat department lady asking about literal cattle decapitation. There’s a message in there somewhere I’m sure. Doesn’t that sum up the album though? Just a bunch of guys, playing immature grindcore most likely for laughs. Though I’m not a fan of this album, it’s a neat thing to come back to after all these years and view as a sort of benchmark. These guys have come a long way and this puts things into perspective.

So, is Cattle Decap’s debut their worst? From what I remember, I hated ‘To Serve Man’ worse than this, and ‘Homovore’ is essentially at the same level. To get down to brass tacks, this album is not good. Though you can catch fecal-spattered glimpses of Cattle-to-be, it’s a wreck that I soon won’t return to. It’s worth a minute to marvel at and think “wow”, because it’s astounding to me that the same band that put this out was the same one that produce ‘Monolith’, ‘Anthropocene’, ‘Harvest’, hell even ‘Karma’ and ‘Death Atlas’. ‘Human Jerky’ is title that’s as Cattle Decap as it gets and almost nothing else. I’d give this a 45% for historical significance and fandom of the band in my books, but the more I think about it, the more I don’t like this album. Thank god it’s getting a repress, because spending more than $10 on this would be a grave misplacement of funds. At least the album cover is cool.