Distributor/label URL: Metal Blade Records
Buy Album: https://cattledecapitation.bandcamp.com/
Travis Ryan: Vocals
Josh Elmore: Guitars
Dave McGraw: Drums
Belisario Dimuzio: Guitars
Olivier Pinard: Bass
1) Anthropogenic: End Transmission
2) The Geocide
3) Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts
5) The Great Dying
6) One Day Closer To The End Of The World
7) Bring Back The Plague
8) Absolute Destitute
9) The Great Dying II
10) Finish Them
11) With All Disrespect
12) Time’s Cruel Curtain
13) The Unerasable Past
14) Death Atlas
‘Death Atlas’ will be the 9th full length release from grindcore/death metal cross-over legends Cattle Decapitation, and the first since 2015’s ‘The Anthropocene Extinction’. Being a big fan of the band, I was eager to hear the direction they would take after the wide success of their last release, an album that I hold as the band’s best records to date!
The album kicks-off in epic fashion with the introduction “Anthropogenic: End Transmission” in fitting with some post-apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster, which works well as a segue from the previous album before throwing the listener headlong into the first track: ‘The Geocide”!
A ferocious assault awaits your ear drums courtesy of drummer Dave McGraw, ripping through 4 minutes of sheer mayhem. Vocalist Travis Ryan litters the track with his ever-impressive vocal range, and the track concludes with Travis spitting the venomous mantra: “fuck the future, fuck all mankind”—a fitting preface to the purpose and scope of this album.
‘Death Atlas’ contains 14 tracks and clocks in at 55 minutes, so there’s some inevitable filler; “Finish Them”, “Vulturous” and even the title track “Death Atlas” all failed to leave any particular impression on me after repeated listens, and 3 of the 14 tracks are just interludes: “The Unerasable Past”, “The Great Dying” and “The Great Dying II”. I can see why these are included, the album warrants some interludes to develop the theme, but I found these all to be highly annoying and a missed opportunity.
Experimentation with song structure takes some tracks away from the traditional mould and none more so than “Time’s Cruel Curtain”—one of the things I love about Cattle Decapitation is their ability and willingness to try something different—and I actually found this track to be reminiscent of Faith No More in parts, it was a shame not to hear more experimentation with the song structures throughout the rest of the album.
“One Day Closer To The End Of The World” and “Bring Back The Plague” are two of the stand-out tracks. Fresh and interesting ideas combine well with Travis’ melodic vocals to make for some distinct compositions, all without compromising on the expected ferocity.
Cattle Decapitation’s musical direction has certainly shifted over the past decade that brought two monstrous triumphs in ‘Monolith of Inhumanity’ and ‘The Anthropocene Extinction’, and to no surprise, ‘Death Atlas’ pushes the band even further in this new direction—but I expected to like it more than I actually do.
I loved the album after the first play, but I’ve found myself enjoying it less and less with repeated listens. Many of the tracks suffer from an air of similarity, and the twists and turns that were found on the aforementioned albums are few and far between. The ideas seem to have been a little thin on the ground at times, but with that said, this is a Cattle Decapitation album, so it certainly doesn’t suck!
There’s some real fun to be had; “With All Disrespect”, “The Geocide”, “Bring Back The Plague”, “One Step Closer To The End of The World”, “Times Cruel Curtain”, “Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts”, these are all great songs, but I feel the album as a whole falls short of the incredibly high bar that was set with the band’s previous efforts like ‘The Anthropocene Extinction’, ‘Monolith of Inhumanity’ and ‘The Killing Floor’.
Overall, ‘Death Atlas’ is a solid effort from an excellent band, but it feels like the focus was more towards the concept and theme of the album than it was the creative writing process, and this is to its detriment.