Cattle Decapitation : Terrasite

Cattle Decapitation Terrasite review

Cattle Decapitation have said that they feel as though they have taken a 180-degree turn with new album Terrasite, though it immediately feels like they’ve picked up where they left off on Death Atlas. Their enthusiasm can be felt through the material on their new album, but instead of the kind of stylistic change that statement might indicate, they have just continued to refine the path they are already on. The most tangible difference here is the more deliberate thrashing that empowers the grooves found in these songs. Rather than blind you with speed, the riffs retain razor sharp aggression, blending well-constructed hooks. 

Any band can lean into speed and brutality to please the fans at the back of the club who, after having one too many, will happily bang their heads to anything. Creating songs with melodic depth while still maintaining the in-your-face aggression found on this album requires more sophisticated songwriting. As ever: Cool riffs alone do not make a good song. Terrasite displays the dynamic range and infectious melodies that make it not only worth returning to, but an album you’d look forward to hearing again shortly thereafter. Songs like “Scourge of the Offspring” do carry a dense crushing guitar sound, but find Travis Ryan singing with the kind of gusto that recalls thrash icons such as Overkill and Metal Church. 

On this batch of songs, Dave McGraw continues to make it known that he is one of the best metal drummers in the game today. He pounds his kit with unbridled intensity. The technical prowess is apparent, though not in the same way it would be with that which is most often described as technical death metal. The arrangements shift in an organic fashion rather than jerk about with masturbatory time-signature changes.

Cattle Decapitation do grind into a more traditional death metal sound at time with songs like “The Insignificants.” Vocalist Travis Ryan employs varied vocal colors and things wind up in a more melodic place than expected earlier on. Yet they haven’t gone full melodeath either, not relying on the rolling guitar harmonies of bands like In Flames. The closest they come to that is on “The Storm Upstairs,” which is balanced out with powerful guitars winding around a garden of grinding riffs that builds into hardcore breakdowns.

The album’s thematic mood can be summed up in “…And the World Will Continue to Go On Without You,” which aside from being a great title, finds the consequences of egocentric attitudes crashing down. Their mission of creating a crushing riff apocalypse gets more serious on “A Photic Doom,” while “Solastalgia” is the first song where speed becomes their weapon of choice. They pour it on, only backing off enough in a few places with atmosphere to balance out the range of mood. And closer “Just Another Body” is impressive in the scope of its ten-minute sprawl.

Terrasite isn’t a dramatic course change for Cattle Decapitation, but they have managed to take things to the next level in terms of songwriting. They continue to reach above and beyond in terms of both execution and arrangements, creating an album that’s accessible to a wider audience of more mainstream metalheads without compromising any of the fury that empowers their core sound.

Label: Metal Blade

Year: 2023

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