The last time I put meat in my fridge was three months ago when I had to store a turtle carcass until I could properly preserve it. At parties I stand by the recycling bin and cuss at people who try to put their beer cans in the trash. Whenever I see a disaster movie I not-so-secretly root against the humans. I’m just short of buying carbon offsets for my own respiration. I think Cattle Decapitation is the coolest band on the entire planet. Not only do they perform some of the tightest deathgrind conceivable, not only is Travis Ryan the most spectacularly vulgar windpipe since Chalky (what ever happened to Mephistopheles?), and not only do they write the catchiest extreme metal around, but I’m infatuated with the group’s uncompromisingly anti-human rhetoric and omnicidal fantasies. Monolith of Inhumanity saw the group turn from their grisly vegan-core style towards a more universally disparaging and diverse set of lyrical and musical ideals, and ended up as one of 2012’s most enduring records. With choice cuts such as “A Living, Breathing, Defecating Piece of Meat,” and the spectacular “Dead Set on Suicide” powering its assault on both one’s senses and moral center, the album is something I’d consider a modern classic and the pinnacle of the genre. Logically, by Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings, The Anthropocene Extinction will not be as good.
It can’t be as good as Monolith of Inhumanity but I’ve listened to it a half-dozen times since this morning. It must be inferior, despite how immediately one feels the need to belt out “We’ll fucking die tonight/ and that’s perfectly all right with me” at the end of “The Prophets of Loss.” The album is necessarily second-rate, yet somehow my memory of “The Carbon Stampede” has crumbled under the pressure of “Not Suitable For Life.” Unless Cattle Decapitation have somehow beat the system, The Antrhopocene Extinction just can’t equal its predecessor.
For those who, like I, expected this album to obey known laws, Travis Ryan has some choice words; “Fuck your system and fuck your decision.” The Anthropocene Extinction looks Monolith in the eye and dares it to offer protest. Once again, the world’s angriest quartet of tofu-inhaling Californians produced a near-flawless album. It’s a wholly different beast, exploring mid-tempo grooves (which would be full-throttle for other bands) and melodic choruses in ways that Monolith of Inhumanity only dabbled in. As previously mentioned, the album really kicks in with “The Prophets of Loss” which recalls fond memories of “The Carbon Stampede” until its down-tempo double bass-infested ending hook. Smoothing out the transition into “Plagueborne” is a simplistic noise beat that Tristan Shone could follow with litigation; but despite the song’s doomy intro it’s still a sprint and a half for Dave McGraw who proves himself continuously capable behind the kit.
If there’s one reason to fault this album, it’s the performances, which are impeccable but a tad more restrained than fans would expect. Travis Ryan still spans a good three or maybe four octaves of gurgles and shrieks, but his range isn’t as noticeable on this release despite a ton of double-tracked vocal harmonies. Likewise, Josh Elmore has dialed back the guitar acrobatics; there’s very little gristle-licking sweep-picking here. Maybe he’s trying to take good care of that gorgeous Cardinal Instruments guitar he can occasionally be seen cradling onstage.
In true Cattle Decap/Metal Blade/everyone fashion, the album is loud, although it sounds excellent and is quite listenable even at a disappointing DR5. I’m not asking for an Ecdysis-style level of mastering perfection (what a world that would be), but something with a little more headroom – like the last Origin record – would greatly improve the impact of the record’s slammier sections.
In league with Meshuggah‘s Koloss, Gojira‘s L’enfant Sauvage or even Leprous‘s Coal, The Anthropocene Extinction sees a band distilling their formula and reigning themselves in to create a less groundbreaking but more cohesive work. The album’s emphasis on atmosphere, narrative, and above all Travis Ryan’s lyrics and delivery, both of which are unparalleled in the genre, is truly laudable and while the songs themselves aren’t quite as distinctive as the incredible collection from Monolith of Inhumainty, The Antrhopocene Extinction remains an incredibly compelling listening experience and the most quotable extreme metal album in recent memory. The band’s mix of slam, grind, black metal and misanthropy in the strictest sense is still the premiere poison for picking, ingesting, and lying bloated on an oil-covered beach. If you don’t buy this album, myself, Smokey the Bear, and Captain Planet will show up at your house with some choice words. And claws.