cattle decapitation - the harvest floor

Review: Cattle Decapitation – The Harvest Floor

The Harvest Floor (2009)

USA, Metal Blade Records, Technical Deathgrind

This is an article I wrote a few years past for the then-current release of The Harvest Floor. I thought it seemed particularly relevant with the recent release of the new Cattle Decapitation album Monolith of Inhumanity, which TDM will be doing a staff review on shortly.  This was printed in a publication with approximately five readers that considered themselves fans of metal – one of them being me – hence, the intended audience is not the normal TDM clientele. Aside from the very last sentence, the article remains as it was originally printed. 

Misanthropy is a common theme in death metal. But the hatred of humankind for their crimes against the animal kingdom may be exclusive to Cattle Decapitation, a band of extreme vegans who released their fourth full length album The Harvest Floor this January.

And quite an album it is. Ten tracks of brutal, technical, and absolutely menacing death/grind. This is heavy metal for people who like heavy metal. Amongst an inundation of tepid deathcore bands and cookie-cutter death metal acts, Cattle Decapitation has evolved their style with every release.

The band started as a gore-grind outfit, a side project for members of alternative rockers The Locust. With titles like Homovore and Human Jerky, a not-so-curious listener can imagine what these EPs sounded like. As the band acquired more serious musicians their sound began to change, moving away from the spastic songs less than a minute in length, to a more developed and technical approach to death metal.

With The Harvest Floor, Cattle Decapitation pulls together a seemingly impossible mix of metal. They have all the neck breaking jerks of grindcore, complete with high squeals and low growls. They utilize bludgeoning guitar riffs and squeals typical of death metal. And the drums… new drummer David McGraw plays with enough speed and ferocity to impress even veteran listeners.

Heaviness aside, the band has incorporated bleak melodic sections. These slower sections make for a memorable (and disturbing) listen.
Cattle Decapitation also finds time to invite in a few guest musicians. The Harvest Floor boasts appearances by fellow death metallers Ross Sewage (of Impaled) and Dino Sommese (of Dystopia). In the blender of all this death metal mess, come the electric cello of Jackie Perez Gratz and the electronic skills of John Wiese.

Finally, and the only negative part of the album, Jarboe (of famous group Swans) lends her eerie voice for the title track. Of course the attempt at doing something different is appreciated, but rather than the genre-smashing standout it could be, the second to last song ends up being just a distraction. Ed. – At the time I wasn’t a huge fan of this track, but I have since come to appreciate the creepiness, depth, atmosphere, and almost cinematic effect it brings to the album.

Instead of degrading into the mess of noise and that it could have been, The Harvest Floor is a way for metalheads to start the year off with style. This is the album that fans knew Cattle Decapitation could write, and even though the rest of the band’s albums were excellent in their own right, The Harvest Floor shows the band pulling in numerous stylistic aspects into one gory, creepy, grinding, technical, and overall cohesive whole.

(information on guest musicians from

Rating: 9/10

Author: Witness to the Void

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