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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.

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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. At some point in 2016, they became a five-piece, as Belisario Dimuzio (Eukaryst) was added as a second guitarist.

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As of early 2018, Derek Engemann has departed, citing a desire to strike off on his own and focus on his other projects, namely Scour and a newly-revived Cast the Stone. After a set of fill-ins, the band finally announced Olivier Pinard as their new bassist in August of 2018.


Discography:

  • Ten Torments of the Damned (1996) - first demo
  • Human Jerky (1999)
  • Homovore (2000)
  • ¡Decapitacion! (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 Anthropocene Extinction (2015)
  • Medium Rarities (2018) - compilation
  • Death Atlas (2019)

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There's no fear for tomorrow! When there's no trust for today! There's no ever-after, tropes have to be paid!:

  • Ascended Extra: Belisario Dimuzio and Olivier Pinard both started off as live members before being inducted in full-time, and Pinard in particular was their go-to guy whenever they played in Canada, as Derek Engemann had a DUI on his record that made getting into the country a gamble that they were not willing to take.
  • Ascended Meme: In late 2019, a Soundcloud rapper wholesale lifted the cover art for Death Atlas for his mixtape without even removing the band's logo, then responded in a flippant and dismissive manner when the band found out. The band found the entire saga to be too amusing to not immortalize, and so they put up a presale on Indiemerch for 24 hours to print a very limited run of shirts with the mixtape cover and the initial Instagram post on the front, along with his response on the back of the shirt.
    "I love the hate Fuck all y'all and that Wack ass band😂 Tellem get at me they owe me anyway 🔥🔥"
  • 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: A lot:
    • "The Carbon Stampede": "HERE! THEY COME!"
    • "A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat": "A LIVING, BREATHING PIECE OF DEFECATING MEAT! TWO-LEGGED MASSACRE EXPRESSING GLANDS IN HEAT!"
    • "Your Disposal": "YOU ALONE ARE YOUR DISPOSAL! A LIFETIME OF STAINS, WASTING AWAY SLOWLY DOWN THE DRAIN! NO MERCY, NO REPRISAL, NO SECOND CHANCE!"
    • "The Prophets of Loss": "WE FUCKING DIE TONIGHT, AND THAT'S PERFECTLY ALRIGHT WITH ME!"
    • "Mammals in Babylon": "NO REASON TO SUFFER - SUFFER ANYMORE! NOT TODAY - IN THIS DAY AND AGE!"
    • "Pacific Grim": "DEATH COMES WITH THE TIDE!"
  • Badass Beard: Troy Oftedal sported one of these.
  • Badass Biker: Derek Engemann.
  • Black Metal: Elements of this started to creep in circa Monolith of Inhumanity (primarily on "Projectile Ovulation", "Your Disposal", and "Kingdom of Tyrants") before becoming an extremely major part of their sound on The Anthropocene Extinction.
  • Body Horror: Hoo boy, where to begin? Not just their lyrics, either; their video for "The Monolith/Kingdom of Tyrants" is downright traumatic.
    • The music video for “Forced Gender Reassignment” takes it Up to Eleven, to the point it was banned from YouTube.
  • 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.
    • Another example is on "The Carbon Stampede". We go from Travis' low bellows and slow instrumentation to machine-gun blast beats and a furious shriek in a snap.
  • Contemptible Cover: The majority of them, with standouts including The Harvest Floor and The Anthropocene Extinction, but the cover of Humanure attracted enough ire to force the band to change it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: "Tooth Enamel and Concrete". Literally.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Ten Torments of the Damned was essentially very noisy powerviolence with slight jazz flourishes that is completely unrecognizable compared to the later material. This is because none of the current core members were actually in the band at that time; prior to Travis Ryan joining, the band was essentially just a side project of various members of The Locust.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The main uniting theme of The Anthropocene Extinction and Death Atlas: humanity is digging its own collective grave and will soon lay in it.
  • Epic Rocking: "Men Before Swine" (9:41), "Death Atlas" (9:14), and "Alone at the Landfill" (7:37).
  • Gaia's Lament: A recurring theme in their music is how humanity is making the Earth more and more unlivable.
  • G.I.F.T.: "Not Suitable for Life" was inspired by Travis's sheer irritation and disgust at reading a seemingly endless litany of ignorant, asinine, and stupidly hostile social media comments on a particularly bad day.
  • 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.
  • Gothic Metal: Shades of this on Death Atlas, with prominent gothic rock and darkwave influences, up to the point of including a Dead Can Dance cover as a bonus track.
  • 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.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Derek Engemann.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Their primary lyrical focus.
  • Idiosyncratic Album Theming: Every album since The Harvest Floor has closed with a Lighter and Softer dark ambient track, followed by a more typical song for the band, always reprising the ambient track that precedes it.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Remarkably averted with Travis, who's able to make his growls quite intelligible.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: "Gristle Licker", among others.
  • In Name Only: They technically have no remaining founders (Dave Astor was the last to leave in 2002), but Travis Ryan joined very shortly after they had formed and has been with the band for so long (he basically joined right after the recording of Ten Torments of the Damned) that he may as well have been a founder.
  • Lead Bassist: Olivier Pinard is a major Type A, as he was famous for his extreme technical prowess well before he ever joined the band.
  • Lead Drummer: David McGraw is known for his extreme technical ability, incredible speed, near-unparalleled gravity blast, bomb blast, and double kick speed and control, herculean power, knack for creative grooves, and subtle infusions of Latin beats into his playing. Josh Elmore even joked in an interview that Dave was just innately gifted with incredible skill while the rest of them had to practice their asses off.
  • Lighter and Softer: Though still death metal at its core, Death Atlas doesn't keep the same brutality as many of their old albums do, including more clean vocals and focusing on environmental destruction over gore and other grotesque topics.
  • 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. As of Death Atlas, he has added a gravelly, sparse baritone to his repertoire.
  • Metal Scream: Travis Ryan is generally a mix of a Type 2 and a Type 3, though he managed to pull off a Type 4 during a failed take for "The Product Alive".
  • Miniscule Rocking: "The Decapitation of Cattle", 2 seconds long.
    • Its sequel, "The Recapitation of Cattle", lasts for less than a second.
  • 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 became more eclectic over the years; as of Death Atlas, "progressive blackened gothic death metal" would be a comprehensive and accurate label.
  • 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.
  • One-Woman Wail: The outro to "Death Atlas", courtesy of Laure Le Prunenec of Öxxö Xööx.
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Travis Ryan's more conventional cleans on Death Atlas are a sparse baritone heavily reminiscent of Nick Cave or Michael Gira.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Olivier Pinard.
  • Progressive Metal: Started flirting with this on Karma.Bloody.Karma and fully jumped into progressive death metal with The Harvest Floor.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Unintelligent Design" and "Dead Set on Suicide."
  • 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 to/twisted parody of the intro of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Rostam "Ross" Zafar, their longtime merch guy, tour hand, and moral support, not to mention Travis's fellow Throbbing Gristle and Genesis P-Orridge fanatic.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Derek Engemann. While he left of his own accord, his generally arrogant, rude, selfish, and duplicitous personality made the band react to his decision with a sense of relief, and he had been a toxic presence in the band (and out, as he was notorious for being a dick to fans and supporting acts on tour, and the band found themselves apologizing for something he did more than once) for some time before that and was just barely tolerated on a good day.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Travis started using his extremely distinctive brand of raspy, squawk-like cleans on The Harvest Floor with "Regret & the Grave" and later expanded them on Monolith of Inhumanity. As of Death Atlas, he has started using more conventional singing techniques as well.
  • Special Guest: Many over the years; some of the more notable ones include Jarboe, Mike Majewski, the entire Cephalic Carnage crew, Phil Anselmo, Author & Punisher, and Jurgen Bartsch (Bethlehem). In the live realm, Kevin Talley briefly filled in on drums before Dave McGraw joined, while Rahsaan Davis, Oli Pinard, Todd Stern, Jim Parker, and Diego Soria have all been fill-in bassists; of these, Pinard won the "Derek's replacement" lottery.
  • Start My Own: Dave Astor and Pathology; The Locust, however, does not qualify, as they actually predated Cattle by two years. Cattle itself was this for Astor, Gabe Serbian, and Scott Miller, all of whom started it as a side project of The Locust.
  • Taught by Experience: More or less how Travis Ryan developed his cleans. Over the years, he found himself adjusting his voice during soundchecks and performances to cope with shitty house sound setups, and he developed his cleans essentially by accident as a side effect of having to compensate for bad equipment and incompetent sound guys.
  • Technical Death Metal: Starting with Karma.Bloody.Karma.
  • Voice of the Legion: Travis frequently layers his vocals in the studio, particularly on the first two albums.
  • You Bastard!: "Circo Inhumanitas" has this as its core message: if you willingly associate with circuses in any way, you are an awful person.

With mouths open wide
Our footprint steps inside
And when there's nowhere to hide
Death comes with the tide...
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