I’ve been rather hesitant to discuss Cattle Decapitation for some time now. If there was ever a band that so singularly personified love/hate for me, it would be this Californian four piece. Across their releases since 2002’s ‘To Serve Man’, they’ve singlehandedly made historic strides for the entire genre of deathgrind, introducing progressive and even melodic elements in a genre that has always emphasized anything but. However, the band’s lyrical theme and overarching message unnerves me to no end. Not so much that every single one of their songs is a flowery way of saying ’All humans should die! Except us, of course.’ (which doesn’t help) but more to the harsh reality that whether their vegan message is simply hyperbolic or actually as narrow-minded as it first appears, it hasn’t inspired much of anyone to stop eating meat. In fact, reading the vast majority of their lyrics make me want to eat even MORE meat, then send a video tape of my feast directly to the band.
Now, don’t take my indictment of faux genocidal bullshit to mean that I oppose bands with genuine causes in Death Metal. Hell, Gojira at least practices what they preach by donating and actively supporting the efforts of The Sea Shepard Conservation Society, my objections to that organization notwithstanding. Do Cattle Decapitation donate even a shred of their profits to (highly objectionable) organizations like the Animal Liberation Front that share their eco-fascist, anti-human tendencies? Do they support the efforts of anti-civilization types like John Zerzan? No? Then shut the fuck up and spare us the damn soapbox, would you please? Your speciesism is making it exceedingly difficult to appreciate your groundbreaking music.
Monolith Of Inhumanity’s first leaked single ‘A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat’ is absolutely no exception to my previous issues with Cattle Decapitation. If anything, it embodies the dilemma in an even stronger sense if only because this is some of the very best musical work the band has ever done. This track alone takes ‘The Harvest Floor’ and beats it into irrelevance. The chorus is unbelievable, demonstrating once again (as if further demonstration was required) that Travis Ryan is one of the most innovative and intense vocalists in Death Metal today. If only the ‘message’ of the band was trying to bludgeon me over the head again and again.
“We should have stopped it before it got this far
That writhing reject, that web-footed bastard child
That spawn of animated lard, that curdled wad of embarrassment
Dripping mucus and leaving a trail…
Released upon the populace this ‘thing’ shall breed, emit its seed
a monstrous mold of cells resembling jellied meat assembly”
I think I’m still having trouble understanding…humans are BAD, right? Why don’t you stick with that the whole album so everyone can get it? Oh you have? Since 1997? Well, fifteen years of writing ability straight into the toilet.
I’m sure there’s a small percentage of readers chomping at the bit to write me a frenzied comment along the lines of ‘If you think Cattle Decapitation’s message is full of shit, why don’t you front your OWN band with your OWN message? Tell us how hard it is then!”
Well Captain Critic, you’ll be pleased to know that I am. I’m making strides towards starting a band called Democide, detailing the inhumanity, injustice and outright villainy of government, corporations and much more broadly, the system of statism. It won’t be a deathgrind band, instead taking direct musical inspiration from Classic 90’s New York Death Metal ala Dehumanized, Internal Bleeding, Pyrexia, Skinless and Suffocation. I can also GUARANTEE that a percentage of any profit I may make from the band will go to support organizations like The Center For A Stateless Society (C4SS) and any other activists/journalists/organizations that deserve support. That’s the key difference between walking the walk and talking the talk.
As much as Cattle Decapitation is indeed at the front of the deathgrind pack musically, they really need to reevaluate the way in which they present their message, even if I have issues with it. As it stands, the vast majority of fans that I know personally have not stopped eating meat, supporting ‘animal cruelty’ or anything of the sort. Perhaps instead of just calling for the wanton massacre of humanity (except for themselves of course, because then who would spread the message?) a more interesting and creative approach should be taken…like writing songs from the perspective of the animals perhaps? I’d certainly be more inclined to support the message if Cattle Decapitation released a concept album from the perspective of animals in a slaughterhouse. Or perhaps even detailing the thoughts of a human who maintains the agribusiness/industrial farming system they oppose. (I oppose it as well, but jumping the gun and saying NO ANIMALS can be eaten or that human beings need to be eradicated is pretty damn ridiculous.) The bottom line is, for as creative and genre bending as their music is, Cattle Decapitation’s theme has become stagnant, counter-productive and tiresome. How can four musicians of such talent be satisfied with rehashing the same lyrical assertion on EVERY, SINGLE, ALBUM? It just ain’t right, I tell you what…