Album Review – Death Atlas by Cattle Decapitation (Metal Blade Records)

Cattle Decapitation have released their brand new album, and one of my most eagerly anticipated albums of the year. This is Death Atlas.

Hot on the heels of Cattle Decapitation being announced for Bloodstock Festival 2020, we get the extreme metallers 7th studio album. Released on the 29th of November via Metal Blade Records, Death Atlas follows Cattle Decapitation’s excellent 2015 album, The Anthropocene Extinction. They did also release a compilation album of B sides and the like called Medium Rarities in 2018. A new studio album has been a long time coming really though.

Cattle Decapitation are Travis Ryan on vocals with Josh Elmore on guitars. Dave McGraw is on the drums and Belisario Dimuzio is also on guitars. Finally, on the bass, it’s Olivier Pinard.

Cattle Decapitation Death Atlas

It is only really in recent years I have become a fan of Cattle Decapitation. I really liked The Anthropocene Extinction album and started following them more closely. News of Death Atlas coming out was welcomed and then the singles starting coming out. And damn, they are amazing. Genuinely exciting and impactful metal which isn’t something you can always say for extreme metal. Read up further on the singles by clicking the following links.

One Day Closer to the End of the World

Bring Back the Plague

Death Atlas

Death Atlas is long for an extreme/death metal album which also points to how expansive their sound has become. We have 14 songs in total weighing in at over 55 minutes in length. We start off with a sub 3 minute intro track called Anthropogenic: End Transmission. It sets the scene perfectly with a slower, creepy song with echoing melody and snippets of different spoken word. It gives you an apocalyptic feeling and is the perfect foil for the next track.

The Geocide shakes you immediately into life with a ferocious roar and an explosion of speed and ferocity. It settles into a quick and catchy rhythm that instantly gets your neck moving. The vocals are dark and deep in the verses before switching to the cleaner style for the chorus. The chorus is huge and I love the demonic harmonising. Chuck in a cracking solo and you have a really special track that moves from death metal, to black metal to extreme to progressive. This band have really come into their own.

Cattle Decapitation Death Atlas 3 Travis Ryan

Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts is a vicious assault on the senses with furious drumming and riffing. The vocals have so much power and snarl to them, it has the hairs on my arms on end. The drummer, Dave McGraw, is immense and I love how the melodic guitars come in under the furious bass and drums to switch the track up a bit as the cleans come in. This track is a pit destroyer, a neck breaker and within 10 minutes of Death Atlas I am awestruck!

Vulturous hits hard with groove in the beginning. The drum beat is on fire, the riff is a head banger, the vocals are blackened and slightly worrying. There is a wicked chug to the verse and a fiery melody to the choruses that joins it. Some of the screams and roars are throat shredding as the song gains speed and force as it progresses. It becomes a cacophony of chaos at times before dragging you back from the brink by introducing just a little rhythm over the attack. It is seriously cleverly structured and exciting to listen to.

The Great Dying gives us a slight respite. A time for reflection on the absolute quality heard so far as we get a short intermission. Some backing atmospherics and a speech is delivered around the future (ending) of humanity. This leads directly into that amazing first single, One Day Closer to the End of the World quickly followed by the insanely good, Bring Back the Plague. You can read about both of those at the links above. It’s hard to believe we are just half way through this impressive beast of  an album.

Cattle Decapitation Death Atlas

Absolute Destitute carries on the trend of being absolutely brilliant with a powerful track which blends passages of out and out aggression with moments of neck breaking groove. The rhythmic section nearing the end with the mesmerising drum patterns and lowered clean vocals is perfect. As is the explosion of death metal that follows it through to the end. Another brief respite comes next with the morose, The Great Dying II. It’s another scene setting intermission with atmospherics and spoken word delivering a stark warning.

Finish Them follows that and throws us straight back into the metal with a nice rhythmic start utilising a chunky bass and punchy drum pattern The chorus is brilliant, making use of the amazing vocals skills of Travis Ryan. With All Disrespect goes straight for the jugular from the off. An ear piercing scream and insane drumming jump in from the first second. It settles a little but never loses any of it’s ferocity, even during a melodic section with clean vocals and power guitars. It still feels foreboding and weighs on you.

Time’s Cruel Curtain starts off slower with melodic ringing guitars and gentle drums before stepping up the heaviness, but not the pace. Of course it kicks in after a bit and man does it ramp up the aggression. The vocals are amazing, again using that mix of styles to create an extreme harmony, like a satanic choir. The chorus is amazing. The vocals, the drums, the guitars create a wall of sound that excites the ears before it builds back up with a bit of a bass solo and then a deafening scream. Just like time, in the concept of this album, it fades out gently leaving nothing but silence behind.

That brings us towards the ending of this masterpiece. Starting with a 2 minute intro to the final track called The Unerasable Past. Similar to the other intermissions, it is a depressive, weighty bit of music using atmospherics and spoken word to set the scene before some gentle clean singing comes in over a piano. This is the precursor to the title track and ending song, Death Atlas. Click the link above to grab the full review of it but safe to say it is the most expansive song on Cattle Decapitations most expansive album. It is nearly 9 minutes long and gathers in everything heard thus far blending it into a track that is heavy, powerful, clever and thought provoking.

Well, what can I say about this album that I haven’t already alluded to above. Death Atlas is a phenomenal release. I am blown away by it’s quality and how Cattle Decapitation have grown to be one of the most important bands in metal today. I never thought I would be writing a review for a Cattle Decapitation album, talking about it’s atmospheric intermissions. The groove, the melody, piano or 9 minute songs but here we are. I know they have always had moments of progressive music. They have always expanded their sound a bit more on each release but here I think they have hit the jackpot. Found the sweet spot. The point where everything joins together in perfect unity and creates what is probably the best metal album you will listen to in 2019. Amazing.

Death Atlas is out now on all the usual streaming platforms. Grab a physical copy from Metal Blade, here.

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Death Atlas by Cattle Decapitation (Metal Blade Records)
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