Cattle Decapitation - Karma.Bloody.Karma - Metal Blade Records 2006
Running Time: 40:44
Call me a liar, but I saw this coming. 2004's Humanure injected a flirtation with melody into the brawny death/grind of SoCal's Cattle Decapitation, and in the process managed to get the album banned from most nationwide major retailers. I don't know, something about human remains being flung from the rectal cavity of a cow really gets people all torn up (pun intended). Production notwithstanding, I knew our very own vegetarian vigilantes were onto something, and with Karma. Bloody.Karma, we get our newest glance into the innards of Cattle Decapitation.
After the obligatory intro, "Unintelligent Design" rips through your eardrums, Billy "I've produced every sludge band since The Spanish Inquisition" Anderson's production instantly granting Karma... a much warmer, raw feel than its predecessor. It's kind of like sliding your fist into someone's carved-out stomach and prodding idly around in the remnants. Yep, it's Cattle Decapitation, kids, and while the melody toyed with on Humanure is still there, there's more Force Per Second in the bite CD is trying to take from your psyche. Ending with a Bible verse regarding man's supposed dominion over the Earth, "Unintelligent Design" collapses into "Success Is... (Hanging By The Neck)", a mess of gnarled and knotted riffs being blindsided by drums that sound like a drillpress cranked to top speed. Hardcharging rhythms provide support for hacked up guitar mutilations near the finale, making "Success Is..." a sure upcoming live favourite. Noticeable also is the newfound level of dynamics to Travis' voice, which spends much of Karma.Bloody.Karma. flingling itself wildly from black yowl to sewer-level rumblings. Early grind worship rears its maniacal head in the aptly-titled "The Carcass Derrick", flailing skinsmanship and a level of honest to goodness interplay between the guitar and bass result in snatches of art-metal skronk ala Sonic Youth/Unsane, all the way to the doomed up wind-down. "Total Gore?" alternately lumbers like a dazed buffalo and rages like Gorerotted at their most violent, while "Bereavement" lurches haltingly forward, heavy groove accented with frantic six string gymnastics. Yes, there are those Iron Maiden trills again, cutting a razor-thin line through the heaping pile of entrails that is "Suspended In Coprolite", thank you. I was glad to see the arrival of overt melodicism in Humanure, which worked to set Cattle Decapitation even further ahead of its contemporaries, but detested its burial under the Bill Metoyer production. Never one to embrace the predictable, Elmore's Hammett-inspired lead soars during the intro to "Alone In The Landfill" before jackhammer riffs pound through the bedrock of blast courtesy of now departed Michael Laughlin. Yet another curve ball is thrown near the end of "Alone...", hypnotic notes hanging in the air like slowly swinging meathooks, abysmal wails finally finding flesh, latching on, and pulling in a thousand directions with the title track's positively lacerating execution. "The New Dawn" tosses esophagal hemorrhage, broken rhythms, and haunting minor chord patterns into an industrial strength blender, downing the wretched concoction, then blasting from the south end of your digestive tract to the disturbing outro "Of Human Pride & Flatulence".
Cattle Decapitation is one of the few death/grind bands since Carcass to make an art of discord. Years from now, if the planet hasn't shat us out into space, Karma.Bloody.Karma may be looked upon with as much reverence in the death metal world as that other three-word album title with "Bloody" in the middle is for the doom nation.