Since extreme metal and hardcore are genres which are no stranger to loaded, hyperbolic album and song titles, let me help you out with this one: “The Anthropocene” is a theoretical stage of history used to mark the point in which human civilisation advanced so far that our behaviour, attitudes, and actions over the sum of the past thousand years and more have significantly affected the way our Mother Earth’s ecosystems function. Whether this is a positive or a negative impact is debated by many folks in long white coats, but for long-time environmentalist deathgrind act Cattle Decapitation, the answer is a resounding, vitriolic spout of anti-humanity.
For the highly politically-charged subject matters of environmentalism and animal-rights that have been a constant in their catalogue for over fifteen years, Cattle Decapitation are no stranger to inserting their beliefs into their music. This time around, however, they have delivered one of their most transparent and clear-cut records yet in terms of their political and social messages. Longtime vocalist Travis Ryan eschews the standard loadout of grunts and shrieks for a cleaner assortment of yells and bellows with which to deal the band’s arsenal of vitriolic social commentary, which is still as excellent as ever. “We used it up / We wore it out / We made it do what we could have done without”. Ouch. In a music culture so obsessed with aesthetics, it’s reassuring to know that bands like Cattle Decapitation are still keeping music’s political edge razor sharp. That said, it can’t all be great. Lines such as “We fucking die tonight / And that’s perfectly alright with me” delivered in a voice akin to someone from Venture Bros is enough to make your eyes roll right back into your skull.
Although part of what makes the band great is their super politically and socially-conscious mentality, there’s a whole lot to be enjoyed beyond the political dimension. Ryan’s vocals have expanded upon the loveably-excessive theatrics of the band’s last record, Monolith of Inhumanity, taking advantage of the malleability of his voice to explore different, unique, sordid, twisted personalities throughout the record which gives each song its own cluster of dynamic identities. While it’s a shame that a couple of those identities sound a bit like Dani Filth, it’s just a microscopic blemish on an otherwise unmatched vocal performance. The instruments have also tentatively followed suit with spare additions of more extravagant, melodic segments which gracefully break up the dense sections of hypnotic blast beats and screeching guitars.
While, in the great scheme of things, the album doesn’t represent any major strides in the band’s sound since Monolith, their shift along a more politically, socially, and emotionally direct course rewards listeners with a condensed manifesto of concise messages, resulting in one of their most captivating records yet.