It almost seems fitting that we now get to delve back into the archives for this latest release from Death/Grind legends Cattle Decapitation. This is a band that has always looked to blend their eco-friendly message with some of the most horrible and gloriously grimy, putrid Death Metal ever committed to tape: they want to you not only listen but feel what they want to say. Their last two records Monolith Of Humanity and The Anthropocene Extinction showed a marked growth in style and songwriting with the employment of “clean vocals” from master of ceremonies and frontman Travis Ryan being the most standout of the changes. Medium Rarities(all Metal Blade) looks to show exactly what made the band who they are today by plumbing the very depths, offering up lost songs, bonus tracks and other assorted bile.
Not wanting to fuck about, Cattle Decapitation launch into a barrage of violence, the first fifteen tracks of this album all clock in under two minutes each. But be under no illusion as longtime fans will attest to the amount that this band can get done in such a short amount of time is truly something to reckon with. Everything they have ever done is razor fucking sharp in terms of scope and more importantly delivery. The drumming of Dave McGraw is at times inhuman, the guitars of Josh Elmore are simply some of the best the genre may ever offer in terms of prowess and technicality. It would do a disservice to try and pick out tracks from this opening megaton drop of heaviness, it’s just so darn good and so unrelenting that you realise you’re at the mercy of true genius.
Grindcore pioneers Napalm Death would be like proud parents upon hearing the brutality that Cattle Decapitation brings with the merciless albeit brief four-second rush of ‘Recapitation Of Cattle’, a track very reminiscent of Napalm’s early days with that one note being hammered out whilst the vocals rage over the top.
The production is very rough around the edges but that’s kind of the point of a lot of this early work, gnarly as a……err……gnarly thing and a sound that gives you an overriding sense of nausea and dread.
Prior to the album’s release, one track kept coming up in conversation, that being ‘Rotting Children For Remote Viewing’. Now, this song had appeared to be lost forever having originally been intended as a bonus for To Serve Man until Metal Blade Records dug it up from the entrails-covered floor of their basement. Thank God they found it as ‘Rotting Children…’ is the right track to show how far the band have come, and gave me as a more casual fan a chance to see just how fucking good they were way back in 2002. The real surprise was just how developed those vocals of Ryan were and how he has now been able to morph and change whilst losing none of his potency.
As you might expect though it’s the tracks related to the latest releases that really turn things up a notch and quite how these songs didn’t make The Anthropocene Extinction is something only the band themselves know. ‘Exposition Of The Insides’ is just out-and-out furious riffage with one of those signature hooks that Ryan seemingly summons from his bowels, his style is so unique in today’s landscape it’s a treasure to behold.
Medium Rarities is an often-brutal insight into a band that has given so much to the Grind/Death genres. Perfectly balancing the old and new sections of their discography, and even able to muster tracks that are better than those that made it onto now-classic albums and for that reason alone it’s a must-have.