By Lane Oliver
2009 saw the release of Cattle Decapitation’s The Harvest Floor, which to me (at least at the time) was their magnum opus. This year, the band returned with the highly anticipated, 2001: A Space Odyssey inspired Monolith of Inhumanity. The Harvest Floor was such a grand masterpiece for the band so one must wonder if anything released after it can top it.
If you pondered whether Monolith could out do Harvest, then you will be surprised to know that it did just that! From the opening pulverizing chords on “The Carbon Stampede” to the final epic one-two punch of “The Monolith” and “Kingdom of Tyrants”, this album has defied my expectations and wowed me in a variety of ways. Incredible production and a plethora of deliciously vile riffs “plague” this album in a great way. The album begins with the crushing “The Carbon Stampede” which collapses the skull with an absolutely crushing opening breakdown that soon evolves into a procession of dizzying technical riffs. The Harvest Floor showcased a lot of newfound technical mastery but Monolith fleshes out the band’s technical skill and increases it tenfold. The song “Gristle Licker” really shows that off with its off-kilter, noisy riffs, complex start and stop rhythmic patterns and awe-inspiring guitar sweeps. But the band did not go completely tech death on this record. You’ve still got the very thrash inspired “deathgrind” riffing on most of the tracks, most notably “Projectile Ovulation”. One must also note the band’s newfound since of melodicism not just in the music but the vocals as well. The track “Lifestalker”s bridge features emotionally charged melodic riffs and solos and Travis Ryan’s unique vocal delivery. Travis Ryan is known for having a unique voice, but besides the disgusting gutturals and high shrieks, he has created a new technique in which he “sings” in a vile sounding high pitched voice. He showcased this vocal technique on the final track on The Harvest Floor, but on Monolith he sings like this all over the place. It’s so weird sounding that you can’t help but love it. The final two tracks are what made me fall in love with this record in the end. Monolith ends in a similar way that The Harvest Floor ended; with a soft droning track that leads into the final pulverizer. “The Monolith” is a clam, sinister droning track that features primal echoing drums and melancholic clean guitars. Travis sings in a low tone that adds to the tracks sinister, malevolent feel before screaming in the end to signify the album’s final turning point. Then “Kingdom of Tyrants” kicks in and Cattle Decapitation goes out with a bang. Deliciously evil sounding riffs are around every corner at the beginning of the album’s closer. But the track really gets good around the minute and a half mark when the band once again becomes a melodic, powerful monster with Travis Ryan “scream-singing” over harmonious chords. From beginning to end Monolith of Inhumanity is superior to The Harvest Floor in every way imaginable.
I really had no problems with the record besides a few songs I didn’t care for as much as the others. “Forced Gender Assignment”s lengthy breakdown during its final moments kind of got a little cliché and “Your Disposal” repetitive melodic riff just didn’t stack up to the rest of the songs that came before or after it.
But nitpicky things aside, Monolith of Inhumanity is one of the best metal records to be released so far this year. It’s heavy, melodic, emotional and extremely creative all at the same time. Cattle Decapitation has woven a beautifully vile metal blanket that I will envelop myself in for years to come. Do not miss out on this record.
Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: May 8th, 2012
Favorite Tracks: “The Carbon Stampede”, “A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat”, “Gristle Licker”, Lifestalker”, “The Monolith” and “Kingdom of Tyrants”.
For Fans of: Cephalic Carnage, Carcass, Murder Construct and Origin.