What immediately strikes you about this Cali foursome's music is the total lack of effects. They definitely look like your typical goregrind band on the surface. But where IMPALED, SEPSISM, DISGORGE (both of them), COCK AND BALL TORTURE, REGURGITATE and zillions of others tailor their heaviness with severely downtuned guitars and/or heinously manipulated vocals, CATTLE DECAPITATION doesn't. They keep the strings tuned tight and high, which kicks their sound back to a vibe more in line with the more severe strains in '80s-era thrash (i.e. SADUS, INCUBUS, KREATOR), and vocals remain inhuman while being spit out in a seemingly natural manner, way more frightening than the easy-way-out of pitchshifted vox. All in all, CATTLE DECAPITATION comes off as an earthy, organic counterpart to some of their more unimaginative goregrinding pals. That they actually have something to say (they offer links to animal rights sites on theirs), have clever ways to say it and are phenomenally good musicians all goes a long way in making To Serve Man a gore/death/crust/grind album with a huge difference.
This is the band's first record on Metal Blade, and while you couldn't find a more unlikely label for the band, why not? Someone there also heard this band's big difference. The complex webs zipped out by guitarist Josh Elmore (ref. "Chunk Blower" and "Land Of The Severed Meatus") are impressive enough alone to warrant consecutive listens by anyone with a taste for chaotic musical death. And while vocalist Travis Ryan's lyrics are probably more unique than his good-but-hardly-groundbreaking vocals, it's the force he throws into the wordplay that convinces. Regarding the drums, which are forced down our throat at three zillion miles an hour by a generous placement in the mix, David Astor is totally remarkable. He pushes the speed with a frantic tightness that will remind some of the first time they heard the SADUS D.T.P. demo or just think of how Pete Sandoval's early playing blew you away the first time you heard it. Overall, this shit is incredibly lethal. Bestial and intelligent at the same time.
The first listen will probably breeze by. But at 32 mintues long—perfect length for this sort of outing—there's plenty of time left to return again and again. That is when you'll find there are real songs here. 4,000 m.p.h. songs, yeah, but songs all the same. Whether they'll catapult forward from this album the way that, say, CARCASS did from Reek Of Putrefaction remains to be heard. Some of us are intensely eager for the follow-up.