Review by Raphaël on June 20, 2023.
It has been quite the joy to see Cattle Decapitation evolve over time, from their humble beginning has a pretty straightforward death/grind band with an interesting message to now, a progressive death metal powerhouse that redefines the genre. They had a pretty steady evolution, from one album to the other, but I think things started to change with 2012 Monolith Of Inhumanity, where the band really started to embrace their progressive side. We are now in 2023 and the band had the massive job of following their 2019 masterpiece, Death Atlas. So, in this review, I’ll try to explain why Terrasite fulfils every expectation and is the worthy successor to Death Atlas!
First, I need to put you in context a bit. In Terrasite, we are in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has transformed into disgusting, cockroaches looking creatures that are only moved by one thing, their hunger. But the twist is, they remember their humanity, still feel the guilt of having destroyed the planet and yet are unable to control themselves: ”And you... you're just a body, Flesh-lined tragedy, Dead but alive, Remembering a time within our lives... in our history, Life in our prime, A fiction of the mind, Lying to ourselves, blind”. It’s in this wonderfully dark setting that Terrasite takes place and it might just be Cattle Decapitation’s best work to date. The band has the same lineup since 2018: Josh Elmore and Belisario Dimuzio on guitars (lead and rhythm respectfully), David McGraw on drums, fellow Québecois and member of Cryptopsy and Neuraxix, Olivier Pinard on bass and last but certainly not least, Travis Ryan, one of the best voices in death metal period.
The album starts strong with 'Terrasitic Adaptation'. The first few seconds are a bunch ambient noises and what sounds like an infestation of creatures in a dark cave until the first lead guitar chords are played with a slow drum beat. All of this is accompanied by a slow, ominous sounding backtrack that builds the tension until the full fury of blastbeats and long, demonic scream of Travis Ryan hits you in the face. I think this is, without a doubt, one of the best album intros of the year so far! It perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the album and instantly transports you in this hellish, future parallel universe. This song already showcases the full might of Travis’s voice. He has super high-pitched, screechy screams, extremely deep and low guttural growls and his unique blend of harsh vocals that basically sounds like a goblin. He uses those three voices, switching between them effortlessly, to fit perfectly with the story that’s told, making the song (and the whole album) feeling really dynamic. The song ends by becoming progressively slower and ultimately stops in a fade out that is the perfect transition to the next song: 'We Eat Our Young'.
The song immediately starts in a chaotic death/grind assault, with every instrument and Travis’s long high-pitched scream and switches pretty rapidly to a more traditional death metal riff. This is a shorter song, clocking in just under four minutes, but they managed to put a lot of ideas within that time. The song goes into traditional meat and potato death metal chugging riffs but still finds the time to put pauses, where the atmosphere is put in the forefront. By far the best part of the song is the ending, a simple, repeated riff that goes on for almost a minute with Travis repeating “we eat our young” over and over. I guarantee you will make that face, you know the one, that nasty face when the riff is so disgustingly good that you can’t help but headbang. In, '...And The World Will Go On Without You', Cattle shows us that they are not only able create brutal music, they can also do it with incredible musicianship and intelligent song structures. From the introduction, with the complex drum patterns accompanied by a growl so low it’s hard to believe in human can produce this sound, to the complex and technical riff accompanied by fast blastbeats, to the chunky brutal death metal part, for everythin to ultimately slow down, build atmosphere and, there I say, add a little bit of melody with Travis’s goblins singing!
In a genre that usually as rigid parameters, this album is filled with out-of-the-box surprises. Like mentioned earlier, there are a few parts that I like to call, the emotional goblin singing, that adds a melodic component that is welcome in this sea of brutality. Speaking of melody, the intro of the last song, 'Just Another Body', is a beautiful piano piece that conveys emotions of grandiose beauty but at the same time, a complete sense of despair. Clean singing parts are also present on this song and others ('Solastalgia', 'The Insignificants'). It gives this wonderful feeling of doom and despair that is present all over the lyrics as well: “We brought this all on ourselves We'd be going to hell If it existed outside this life”. They seem to blame humanity as a whole for the planet’s destruction: “I'm just a body, 8 billion like me, Burning our hive, Scorched alive”. That may be partially true, but I don’t think we are all individually responsible, it’s more of a systemic problem. We desperately need a change, getting rid of this capitalist monster, where growth and profit is the only thing that matters, even if it destroys the planet! I see the Terrasite monsters as the metaphorical representation of our violent system. I love when metal bands tackle political issues like that.
I’m trying to find flaws to Terrasite but cannot for the life of me find anything. All this taking in account that I’m not the biggest fan of grindcore but, sprinkled here and there, it really adds a rawness to the music that I find myself enjoying quite a lot! Terrasite might be the band most diverse and mature offering to date and, already a worthy contender for my album of the year list. Since the previous album was released in 2019 and had a song called, 'We Need A New Plague', let’s just hope this album doesn’t accurately predicts the future again!
Rating: 10 out of 101.16k
Review by TheOneNeverSeen on May 1, 2023.
The Green Peace of deathgrind have finally returned 4 years after the Earth (both the real one and the one on Death’s back on the album cover) staggered at the release of their second-best album, Death Atlas with a new portion of powerful soundtrack to humanity’s demise. While this album is nearly equivalent to the previous one sound-wise, it manages to deliver quite a few epic melodies and shows a sufficient diversity representative of the band’s reluctance to merely recycle Monolith of Inhumanity riffs.
The opening song, 'Terrastic Adaptation', starts off with a sinister, slow-paced intro riff followed by Travis Ryan’s infernal scream that unkindly reminds you the guy is still one of the best modern death metal vocalists. Nearly as legendary as the most memorable scream in the band’s history (the 3:03 one of 'Bring Back The Plague') this scream instantly sets the atmosphere of the end of time. Upon having grinded you with a series of gut-wrenching riffs and passages of all humanely possible tempos, the album spits at your terrasited body with yet another song opened by Ryan’s visceral scream (also the album’s main single), 'We Eat Our Young'. With the infant-eating out of the way, the album collapses at you with a series of consistent, brutal yet desperate riffs and ferocious drumming. The only unenjoyable song on it is the mediocre 'The Insignificants', which, while not being bad, feels like "yet another Cattle Decapitation song" due not containing any particularly remarkable elements. The rest are fine at worst and excellent at best.
Generally, the band’s approach hasn’t changed much. All the beloved elements such as Josh Elmore’s monstruous riffing and David McGraw’s crushing drumming are here. The only major change would be the unexpected reduction of (carbon levels, haha) the amount of Ryan’s "goblin" vocals. While I love them and never viewed them as a problem, unlike some other fans, I always encourage experimentation and Travis’s decision to employ this style of singing in fewer songs, but more effectively (for instance, the melodic shrieking he offers on '...and The World Will Go On Without You' is as stunning as that on 'Kingdom Of Tyrants' and almost as stunning as that on 'Manufactured Extinct') should be given credit. All of his shrieking passages have been fantastic and none felt excessive apart from the one of 'Dead End Residents', which is a major success. The songwriting generally doesn’t rely on catchy choruses that much, focusing on multiple elements working nicely in tandem instead, a perfect example being 'We Eat Our Young', a killer track that doesn’t feature a chorus in the first place, yet still impressing the listener with the beastly beauty of its flow.
The album’s riffs are as impressive as always, yet even more creative and less uniform in terms of their style. For instance, my personal favorite on the album, 'Scourge Of The Offspring' contains a very Convulsing/late Decapitated-kind of riff, while the beginning and the 2:43 part of 'A Photic Doom' remind me a lot of Inferi. However, the album also possesses several awesome songs on which the band stayed loyal to their style, such as 'The Storm Upstairs' with an immensely catchy chorus riff and 'Solastalgia' with an excellent use of choir and Olivier Pinard’s great buzzy bass. The band even managed to write a decent sequel to the closing masterpiece of their previous work, a 10-minute-long symphony of pain and destruction with a quite bleak name 'Just Another Body'. While not as brilliant as 'Death Atlas', the song conveys the feeling of hopelessness through the use of powerful synths combined with the constant tempo changes and does not get boring thanks to its unpredictable structure possessing, among other things, a short yet cool breakdown and an excellent passage with Ryan’s speech and screaming combined alongside very beautiful synths (a re-make, as any fan will guess, of the "TO BE ALIVE IS TO SQUANDER EVERYTHING" part of 'Death Atlas').
So, aside from its bad joke of a cover, Terrasite is a killer death metal album that any fan of late Cattle Decapitation is likely to enjoy. Definitely one of the best releases this year and one of the most solid records in the band’s discography.
Rating: 9 out of 101.16k