To this day, I remained impressed and honestly somewhat intimidated by the apex of extreme that is CATTLE DECAPITATION's "Karma.Bloody.Karma", and slight doubts stirred as to whether or not the band could surpass said album, or simply repeat themselves with its follow up. After all, when a group stretches their sound to its farthest reaches, they have no choice but to expand and evolve, or suffer the embarrassment of self-plagiarism. As the highly-anticipated "The Harvest Floor" cut through my skull like some hate-fueled bone saw, and I sat back in my chair barely able to utter the words "Holy Fuck" in response to its focused ferocity, I heard a band that is in the midst of making that evolutionary leap from good to great.
"The Harvest Floor" is every bit the dexterous, tech-addled mind-blower that we were all expecting from these vehement vegetarians. On top of that, the disc sees a more developed, progressive and at times, more experimental CATTLE DECAPITATION than previous releases have revealed. Dripping with gore and fueled by their misanthropic stance, "The Gardeners Of Eden" delivers the same frenzied blend of death metal and grind that CATTLE DECAP is known for, but the tune also sees the band pulling the reigns back on the complexity and chaos for some very cool moments of calculated groove and blackened atmosphere. Vocalist Travis Ryan lets loose some of the most unholy and inhuman screams allowed without an exorcism (and makes some awesomely disgusting puke noises at the onset of "Tooth Enamel And Concrete" to boot), while Josh Elmore and Troy Oftedal jump from one blistering riff to another with honed aggression. Grinding exercises in insanity like "The Ripe Beneath The Rind" and "In Axetasy" feature some of Elmore's best work to date. The newly acquired Dave McGraw (ex-SLEEP TERROR) proves himself to be nothing less than a monster behind the kit in the way he blasts and pummels his way through the album with a level of precision and fury seldom heard in music this intricate. The biggest surprise on "The Harvest Floor" comes from the haunting and dirge-like title track. A solemn and cleanly-played guitar track sets a foundation that various other elements, including a guest vocal from the always-eerie Jarboe, that build on one another until climaxing into "Regret And The Grave". Featuring the cello of Jackie Perez-Gratz (GRAYCEON, GIANT SQUID), this is a song that crosses the boundaries between homicidal and suicidal several times before its abrupt end. Other notable contributions come from Ross Sewage (IMPALED), Dino Sommese (DYSTOPIA, ASUNDER) and noise merchant John Weise.
Whether or not the human race is truly walking blindly into the proverbial meat-grinder that CATTLE DECAPITATION has long prophesized in lyrics and artwork is beyond the scope of my vision, and this is hardly the forum to vent my own thoughts on the subject. What I do know and will say is that "The Harvest Floor" is a brilliantly performed slice of sonic apocalypse. More than simply pushing forward the wall of extreme metal, this is an album that challenges music itself, as well as the shallow way in which humanity views its place in the universe. If all that is too big a pill for you to swallow, then just put the fucker in and rage.