Cattle Decapitation – Humanure

This has the distinction of being the first Cattle Decapitation release that doesn’t make me want to jam an unfolded paper clip directly into my eardrum with every note.  Now don’t get the impression that it even approaches ‘good’ territory; it’s mediocre at best and there’s still plenty to complain about.  But I have to give them credit where credit is due, as this is much better than the band’s previous abortion of an LP in ‘To Serve Man’, which is one of the most frustratingly inconsistent CDs I have in my collection.  This, on the other hand, is pretty even-handedly bland.

Cattle Decapitation were always a band who were able to attract amazing musicians who had no idea of how to create a coherent song that can be listened to all the way through.  On ‘Humanure’, they’ve managed to keep the former and partially resolve the latter.  The songs have at least a little bit of coherency to them now and don’t seem like endless streams of technical riffs with nothing linking them together.  The vocal performance has gotten less ridiculous and is no longer constantly doubletracked (thank GOD), and the music in general has more in the way of atmosphere and tasteful variation in tempo and rhythm instead of the endless parade of weirdly melodic tech that typified earlier releases.

I would still rather listen to a great number of things other than this most of the time.  While the songs are much more listenable, they’re still far below the level of what I’d expect from a Metal Blade-signed death metal artist.  Certain songs, such as ‘Polyps’, really work, with its doomy intro which segues nicely into the brutal, technical riffing that dominates the second half.  A lot of the time it feels just as awkward as before, though, with riffs and drum beats sort of colliding with each other in a futile attempt to construct a song out of meandering tech riffs and weird solos.  Thankfully that’s a rarer occasion than before, but it’s still an issue the band hasn’t yet worked out on this album.

Overall, it’s not awful, which is more than I can say for other Cattle Decapitation releases, but it’s still mediocre and doesn’t have a great deal to recommend for it.  While it’s a relatively capable tech death album, there’s still many other tech death artists with a much better grasp of actual songwriting than these guys.  In short, an improvement, but still not enough of one to make me want to listen.

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~ by noktorn on July 28, 2008.

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