Cattle Decapitation – Terrasite (Metal Blade)

Cattle Decapitation have come a long way since they were chewing on Human Jerky, back in ’99.

And the band’s evolution has been especially startling since the towering Monolith Of Inhumanity rose up in 2012. There’d always been more nous to the Californians than your standard death grind outfit, but Monolith… saw them inhabiting the same charred landscapes as Napalm Death and Anaal Nathrakh, and like those bands, using multiple elements as their nuclear fuel rods.

2019’s Death Atlas demonstrated their growing ambition, with the drama of songs such as Geocide and Time’s Cruel Curtain, matched to Cattle Decapitation’s outstanding technical ability.

And it’s fair to say that Terrasite at the very least matches that record’s visceral qualities and emotional heft.

Indeed, the band’s latest hellride concludes with a particularly sombre note: Just Another Body was informed by the tragic deaths of Cattle Decapitation co-founder Gabe Serbian and The Black Dahlia Murder frontman Trevor Strnad, with vocalist Travis Ryan stating that it was written “during some of the hardest moments in this band’s career”. More than 10 minutes long and bookended by passages of melancholic keys, it’s an incredibly powerful – and moving – piece of art.

To get there, you’ll follow a familiar path of environmental devastation, soundtracked by lamentations over humanity’s treatment of the Earth. There’s nowhere to hide during Scourge Of The Offspring, no place of refuge as We Eat Our Young’s blastbeats flay the skin, no safe haven as …And The World Will Go On Without You runs its melancholic course.

The impressive Josh Elmore and Belisario Dimuzio bring both texture and ferocity to their fretwork, and on the likes of A Photic Doom, they display a dexterity and subtlety that dovetails perfectly with Ryan’s tormented performance. The duo are masters of their craft.

The standout song? Well, the stunning Solastalgia just about edges itself into pole position, as Cattle Decapitation use everything in their armoury to create an apocalyptic hymn filled with pure dread. The track is a showcase for their breathtaking dynamics, a cerebral display of power. It’s where the band are in 2023, no doubt about it.

However, Terrasite is riddled with many more infectious show stealers that demand attention.

And it’s an opus that, once again, reminds us of Cattle Decapitation’s unique talents.

Cattle Decapitation photo by Nick Van Vidler.