June 22, 2012 | | 4.5

Cattle Decapitation, Monolith of Inhumanity

Cattle Decapitation: Monolith of Inhumanity

Holy fuck! By the time you hit the two minute mark on the first track of Cattle Decapitation’s latest helping of grinding death metal, you know immediately that this album is going to be something special. And by special, I mean like being eaten alive from the groin up by rabid, malevolent bovines (and monkeys if the album cover is any indication).

Monolith of Inhumanity sees the band at the peak of their powers and flows like spilled blood from the advancements they made on The Harvest Floor. As a natural extension to that album released three years ago, these eleven songs don’t just rehash what made that album so well received, but instead stomp on its neck with impunity and ratchet everything up a level or three. Starting with Travis Ryan’s vocal(?) delivery — which by the way has become one of the more varied and expansive deliveries in death metal — to the technical, off-kilter riffs of Josh Elmore and finally to David McGraw’s bestial drum work, the band’s seventh album goes beyond all expectations. Sure fans of the band will already have their own pre-disposed favorite album, but there’s just simply no denying the musicianship that is on show for all to see here.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we. “The Carbon Stampede” is pretty much the only no-frills, death metal song on the album. It serves wonderfully as a pre-workout warm-up, albeit one that drops you barefoot on a spiked treadmill rolling at top speed. Ryan’s vocals range from deep gutturals to the more standard mid-range barks that are the standard through most of the album. The explosion at the two minute mark is awe-inspiring in it’s ferocity.

“Dead Set On Suicide” introduces us to this new, high-pitched chorus that shows up from time to time throughout the remaining tracks. It’s a bit off-putting in it’s extreme nature (sort of ironic in Cattle Decapitation’s case, don’t you think?), but after a few listens it only feels natural. “A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat” must obviously be about the band’s love of hamburgers (I jest) and includes some of the catchier and hookier choruses on the album despite its very dark and morbid atmosphere. “Lifestalker” sees Ryan utilizing “cleaner” vocals and “The Monolith” builds up smoothly to the destructive final song, “Kingdom of Tyrants” which absolutely lays down the law with frantic rhythms and swirling riffage.

The great thing about an album like Monolith of Inhumanity is the sum of the parts. Each member of this band is so fully integrated into the living beast that is Cattle Decapitation, striving to push themselves for the benefit of the whole. Travis Ryan’s vocal work on this album is beyond comprehension as he delves deep into guttural gurgles one second and fairly cleanly sung screams the next, all the while sounding completely natural within the music’s confines. Josh Elmore has got to be one of the best guitarists in the industry, no questions asked. “New” bassist Derek Engemann rumbles along masterfully as drummer McGraw is all over the place on his drum kit in such a frenetic, yet controlled manner. The end result, of course, is Monolith of Inhumanity, easily the most diverse and polished work the band has produced to date.