Cattle Decapitation

Humanure

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Since their inception in the mid-'90s, Cattle Decapitation have been consistently written off as a side project of the Locust (lineup changes have squashed that connection) or a gore-obsessed novelty act (can't a band have a sense of humor, albeit a pitch-black one, without being stuck with this tag?). Humanure changes all that, though. On the surface it's not very different from To Serve Man or Homovore: gore-minded hardcore punks playing a brutal fusion of grindcore and metal. The difference here is in the playing and a higher level of songwriting in general. New to CD is drummer Michael Laughlin, who also plays in political metal conceptualists (really) Creation Is Crucifixion, and his impact on the band is immediate. Former tub-thumper David Astor was a great hardcore drummer, but Laughlin is clearly a metal drummer of higher technical ability, and that more than anything has allowed CD to blossom into something more than an also-ran. Laughlin is just part of the puzzle here, though, as is veteran producer Bill Metoyer, who -- along with the band -- went for a cleaner sound more typical of European metal bands. Standout tracks include "Lips & Assholes," "Bukkake Tsunami," and (surprisingly) the indulgent closing soundscape, "Men Before Swine" -- a collage of pig squeals, rattling metal, and swirling hiss, it's not something that metal fans will like but ultimately it's indicative of just how comfortable CD are right now, because noise has been an interest for all of these guys all along in their other projects (e.g., Uum), and it's nice to see them owning up to it here.

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