Music: Cattle Decapitation
Cattle Decapitation is an American deathgrind/technical death metal/whatever the hell else they feel like
outfit. Characterized by their discordant, unpredictable sound, viciously misanthropic
lyrical content, intense live shows, and staunch animal rights views (while originally entirely vegetarian or vegan, Travis Ryan and Josh Elmore are the only remaining vegetarians in the band), Cattle Decapitation has become a very prominent player in modern death metal.
They were formed in 1996 by Scott Miller (vocals, guitar), Gabe Serbian (drums, later guitar), and Dave Astor (bass, later drums) as a deathgrind
outfit, though Miller swiftly left
and was later replaced by Travis Ryan, a noise composer and frontman of the drone/doom outfit 5/5/2000. Serbian and Astor left sometime after, with Josh Elmore and Michael Laughlin filling their respective spots; this, of course, has been a recurring theme with Cattle Decapitation, as Travis Ryan and Josh Elmore have been the only steady members for some time. After a fairly sizable amount of lineup changes
over the years, they finally settled on Dave McGraw (drums) and Derek Engemann (bass), with Ryan and Elmore continuing to maintain their duties.
- Ten Torments of the Damned (1996) - first demo
- Human Jerky (1999)
- Homovore (2000)
- ˇDecapitacion! (2000) - EP
- To Serve Man (2002)
- Humanure (2004)
- Cattle Decapitation/Caninus (2005) - 7" split
- Karma.Bloody.Karma (2006)
- The Harvest Floor (2009)
- Monolith of Inhumanity (2012)
The band provides examples of the following tropes:
- Asshole Victim: When someone is killed in one of their songs, the victim usually had it coming. Not always, though, as the victim in "Tooth Enamel and Concrete" was more or less in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Audience Participation Song: "The Gardeners of Eden", "The Carbon Stampede", "A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat", "Lifestalker", and "Your Disposal" all tend to result in this.
- Body Horror: Hoo boy, where to begin? Not just their lyrics, either; their video for "The Monolith/Kingdom of Tyrants" is downright traumatic.
- Careful With That Axe: Travis Ryan has made this an artform, though Josh Elmore's guitar work can cross into this territory as well on the more noise-influenced tracks. For that matter, Dino Sommese's guest appearance on "The Product Alive" also qualifies.
- Contemptible Cover: The majority of them, but Humanure's attracted enough ire to more or less force the band to change it.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: "Tooth Enamel and Concrete". Literally.
- Genre Roulette: Monolith. That album has:
- Noisy, grindy tech (The Carbon Stampede)
- Brutal death (Dead Set on Suicide, Forced Gender Reassignment, Projectile Ovulation, Do Not Resuscitate)
- Blackened death (A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat, Your Disposal, Kingdom of Tyrants)
- Prog-death (Gristle Licker, Lifestalker)
- A creepy neofolk-tinged dark ambient piece (The Monolith)
- Gorn: Extremely frequent, oftentimes as part of ironic fates befalling individuals. The video for "Forced Gender Reassignment" takes this Up to Eleven to the point where Bloody Disgusting was the only site that would host it.
- Green Aesop: A frequent subject of theirs, exclusively in a particularly grim and cynical fashion.
- Grindcore: Started out as this.
- Groin Attack: "Forced Gender Reassignment" and "Testicular Manslaughter". Both are self-explanatory.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Their primary lyrical focus.
- I'm a Humanitarian: "Gristle Licker", among others.
- Lead Bassist: Troy Oftedal and Derek Engemann, both Type A.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Travis pulls off mid-ranged roars, low gurgles, pig squeals, an ear-piercing shriek, a weird nasally snarl, sharp, rapid-fire spitting (hard to describe in any other way), sickly, phlegm-laced spoken portions, and his trademark raspy, squawk-like cleans.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Travis Ryan's unhinged vocal style and onstage behavior belie his calm and down-to-earth nature offstage.
- Metal Scream: And some particularly terrifying ones at that.
- Miniscule Rocking: "The Decapitation of Cattle", 2 seconds long.
- Misanthrope Supreme: Most of the murderers in their songs are this.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Solid 10 and frequently 11, though their more experimental tracks, namely "The Harvest Floor" and "The Monolith", can dip as low as 1 or 2 due to their nature (dark ambient).
- Motor Mouth: Travis Ryan occasionally does this, namely on "The Ripe Beneath the Rind".
- Murder Ballad: No shit.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Gradually gained a reputation for this over the years; as of now, they've utilized grindcore, noise, technical death metal, slam, black metal, mathcore, post-rock, dark ambient, neofolk, sludge metal, free jazz, and whatever else they feel like putting in. And it works. It can be chalked up as the natural result of putting a noise/power electronics composer-turned vocalist, a jazz-grind guitarist, a fusion drummer, and a black metal bassist together.
- New Sound Album: Many:
- Homovore was where they started to infuse death metal into what was otherwise pure grind with noise influences, but it was still a grind album at heart.
- To Serve Man was where they started writing full-length songs, in addition to switching to a goregrind sound reminiscent of early Carcass or their friends in Impaled.
- Humanure was where they started to focus more on technicality and atmosphere, as well as being the debut for new drummer Michael Laughlin.
- Karma.Bloody.Karma greatly increased the technicality that was hinted at on Humanure, in addition to being the start of their later Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly tendencies.
- The Harvest Floor was the debut of Dave McGraw on drums, who brought with him prominent brutal death influences; this was also where Ryan started experimenting with "clean" vocals.
- Monolith of Inhumanity dialed up the brutal death and brought down the technicality a bit, in addition to experimenting with Black Metal. Ryan's cleans also gained increased prominence, particularly on the more atmospheric tracks.
- No Export for You: "An Exposition of Insides", which was a Japanese bonus track off of Monolith, as was "World Full of Idiots" off Karma.
- The Pete Best: Scott Miller; while he did record a demo with them, said demo has been LONG out of print.
- Progressive Metal
- Shout-Out: The cover and title of Monolith of Inhumanity, as well as the video for "The Monolith/Kingdom of Tyrants", is one big homage/twisted parody of the intro of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Soprano and Gravel: Played with. While Ryan has taken to using clean vocals on the past couple of albums, they are NOT what you'd generally expect from clean vocals, being more of a nasally screech. The closest one can get to traditional cleans is "Kingdom of Tyrants", and even those are not really what you'd call "clean".
- Special Guest: Many over the years; some of the more notable ones include Jarboe, Mike Majewski, and the entire Cephalic Carnage crew. Travis Ryan himself has done this, most notably on Soulfly's latest album.
- Start My Own: Dave Astor and Pathology; The Locust, however, does not qualify, as they actually predated Cattle by two years.
- Technical Death Metal: Starting with Karma.Bloody.Karma.