Over the span of a decade, Cattle Decapitation has forged its not-so-humble beginnings in gore-grind into one of extreme metal's most relentless forces, encompassing a sound as schizophrenic as their record collections but with a determined lyrical stance resolutely damning the ills of humanity.
After a couple early line-up shifts, “Human Jerky,” Cattle Decapitation's first full-length, was released in 1999 as LP-only by Nevada label Satan's Pimp. The album featured the bass-less trio of Travis Ryan on vocals, Gabe Serbian on guitar and Dave Astor on drums. Serbian and Astor split duties with the ubiquitous arty-grind act The Locust. “Human Jerky” as well as 2000's “Homovore” (released by San Diego's Three One G label) showcased Ryan's obsessively gore-oriented musings laced within his pro-vegetarian/anti-human posture. In keeping with the spirit of the genre as well as the lyrical urgency, the 90's trio was additionally known for its ultra-short songs and unforgettable live performances (Ryan was known to occasionally perform in a mask sewn
of beef jerky). The band procured Venezuelan installation artist Nelson Garrido's arranged pieces of deceased livestock for two unmistakable album covers.
The early twenty-first century brought about a slew of changes in personnel and increased sonic brutality. Shortly after the release of Homovore, Troy Oftedal filled the formerly-vacant bass slot. Josh Elmore (previously of notorious humor-grind act 7000 Dying Rats) was brought into the fold on second guitar only to take on sole duties after Serbian's departure to focus on The Locust. The revised line-up carved their debut for Metal Blade with 2002's “To Serve Man,” a coalescence of brutal grind and death metal with an increased spotlight on Elmore's arrival. After months of touring in support of the album, the band parted ways with longtime drummer Dave Astor and swiftly brought aboard good friend Michael Laughlin, formerly of San Francisco's tech-grinders Creation is
Crucifixion. With Laughlin instantly adding an increased rhythmic dynamic to the group, the relentless tour cycle was resumed straight up to the release of 2004's “Humanure.” The album offered a beefed-up production, an evolved song craft and artwork that perfectly depicted the ultimate revenge on humanity, a cow excreting human remains (resulting “Humanure” as their most-banned album domestically as well as overseas). The band's experimental leaning on this record reared its head in the form of a ten-minute long track constructed almost entirely of slaughterhouse field recordings.
Between more tours Cattle Decapitation recorded 2005's split 7” shared with the canine-fronted grindcore oddity Caninus. This material saw a return-to-form in terms of song lengths but introduced an increasingly-diverse range of extreme metal. This has laid the framework for 2006's full-length, “Karma.Bloody.Karma.” In Ryan's words, “This will be
the most nihilistic, pessimistic and hateful record we’ve ever done lyrically. Musically, imagine the Caninus split material, just longer in every way.” The album features guest appearances by Joey Karam (The Locust) and John Wiese (Sunn0))),Bastard Noise) and
production by Billy Anderson (Swans, Mr. Bungle, Melvins).