The Anthropocene Extinction
7 August 2015 – Metal Blade Records
01. Manufactured Extinct
02. The Prophets Of Loss
04. Clandestine Ways (Krokodil Rot))
05. Circo Inhumanatis
06. The Burden Of Seven Billion
07. Mammals In Babylon
08. Mutual Assured Destruction
09. Not Suitable For Life
10. Apex Blasphemy
11. Ave Exitium
12. Pacific Grim
Cattle Decapitation’s rise to prominence in the metal scene is one of the most improbable success stories in the last decade of music. What other band has received such a drastic increase in attention almost twenty years and seven albums deep into their career? And yet, as Cattle Decapitation had been creating an increasingly bigger bubble with 2009’s The Harvest Floor, it was 2012’s titanic Monolith Of Inhumanity that made that bubble burst and cover the whole metal scene with viscera and detritus. It was an unequivocal success that spawned huge tours, gruesome must-see music videos, and a deluge of new fans. Given the universal acclaim that Monolith Of Inhumanity rightfully received, it was a foregone conclusion that its follow up would be in the same vein. Unfortunately that indeed is the case with Cattle Decapitation’s seventh full-length album The Anthropocene Extinction, which apes its predecessor to a fault.
Cattle Decapitation finally broke out of the pack of death metal also-rans by highlighting the unique elements of their sound and they struck gold by taking their gimmick to an extreme. This newfound success, amassed through pioneering work on their prior LP, rather paradoxically results in what amounts to self-plagiarizing. After releasing an album as distinctive and truly special as Monolith Of Inhumanity, it would have been peculiar if Cattle Decapitation had reinvented the wheel yet again. Perhaps it is unfair that the comparisons will continue to be made between this album and Monolith Of Inhumanity, but it is inevitable given the long shadow that album cast. The Anthropocene Extinction feels eerily identical to what came before given how rigidly Cattle Decapitation adhere to not only the song structures found on Monolith Of Inhumanity, but also that record’s core structure. It’s almost as though The Anthropocene Extinction is a carbon copy.
With that massive singular complaint aside, this album does have quite a lot going for it. You have heard most of these riffs before, but several are still memorable. The musicianship throughout is tight, and the production is as robust as it has been on every Cattle Decapitation record since Karma.Bloody.Karma.
The focal point for most listeners of contemporary Cattle Decapitation will naturally be the vocals, which sound unlike anyone else in metal today. Travis Ryan is without question one of the great talents of our time; his abilities are uncanny and deserving of substantial praise. The caveat is that the use of Ryan’s vocals has become wholly predictable in the context of these songs, since nearly all of them focus on clean (and cleanish) sections – especially past midpoint atmospheric breather track “The Burden of Seven Billion.”
Cattle Decapitation are now writing their music around the vocals whereas previously they struck an elegant balance so Ryan’s presence did not totally overshadow the rest of the band. Occasionally the band hit the target with great results, as on opener “Manufactured Extinct” and latter-half highlight “Mammals In Babylon” – both of which represent the best use of this formula and serve as poignant reminders of what Cattle Decapitation are capable of in their best moments. More often than not though, songs like “Plagueborne”, “Circo Inhumanitas”, “Not Suitable For Life”, and “Apex Blasphemy” come across as calculated; cynically prepping for the big sing-along.
The Anthropocene Extinction ends as it begins, with the sounds of waves crashing down on the shore. It’s fitting, since this album is literally the sound of a band coasting. Monolith Of Inhumanity was always going to be a challenging album to follow up and it appears that Cattle Decapitation have managed to side-step that task by writing MoI part two. If all you thought you wanted from Cattle Decapitation was more of the sound from 2012’s breakout performance, then the adage “be careful what you wish for” has never been more appropriate.