Cattle Decapitation, Terrasite (Metal Blade Records, 2023)

27 years and 10 records in Cattle Decapitation share their latest contribution to soundtracking the end of existence.

I know that sounds like typical death metal jargon for a review, but it feels more appropriate when considering Travis Ryan's lyrics and the realities of human life.

Now that I've likely increased any bleakness you might feel about life, I want to share an important note Cattle Decapitation has included in the credits for their latest LP, Terrasite.

“All vocals are 100% organic, plant-based and gluten-free. May have been manufactured in a facility that processes tree nuts.“ Consume this record at your own risk, and here are some thoughts on Terrasite.

As far as I can remember, I first heard about Cattle Decapitation around the time of their LP, Humanure. The overall technical musicianship and sound of the band have shifted throughout the years in a way that has kept me consistently following their music.

The title, Terrasite, is a combined word pulled from both Latin and Greek defined as a sort of new species that based on the roots of the word could also be referred to as an earth-eater. The terrasite is the centerpiece of the artwork by Wes Benscoter and provides an immediately engaging album cover to be lost in as you listen to the record as a whole. 

As I approach almost twenty years of listening to death metal and its various subgenres, I'm grateful when bands can find a well-tuned balance between melody and brutality. The collective musicians in Cattle Decapitation show their chemistry in full power on Terrasite. The cadence and enunciation by vocalist Travis Ryan along with the varied rhythms from drummer David McGraw are especially fascinating to me as a longtime drummer that also tries to sing occasionally.

Anyone who still tries to diminish or discount death metal as a genre with defined musical parameters can quickly have that mindset destroyed with only a few minutes of listening to this record.

Photo: Nick Van Vidler

As I'm listening to the final song, "Just Another Body," the textures and overall personality of the song and the record have reached an eerily cinematic feel for me. The piano and synth work by guest musician Tony Parker of Midnight Odyssey had me feeling more emotional than I'd typically ever expect while listening to death metal.

I won't bother wading into the debate of climate change or acting like I have any answers about any of the challenges humans encounter daily. I would be lying though if I didn't say that I believe records like this are timely and have personally made me more curious about the impact my choices have on the planet we live on.

When we can directly contribute to the survival or demise of not only ourselves but other people, are we too distracted by modern convenience to care and effectively have become terrasites ourselves? 

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Tagged: cattle decapitation