Back in 2019 Cattle Decapitation hoped for a plague and, lo and behold, one actually materialized. But while today's news cycle has moved away from COVID-19, the stark reality that we all are living in the age of the Anthropocene still acts as the main impetus for the California quintet to continue their warnings regarding planetary devastation. Specifically, the band's narrative about the end of the earth continues in the bitingly critical Terrasite, a record that forces us to think about our reproduction choices and impacts.
The term "terrasite" is actually a word created by vocalist Travis Ryan whereby he brought together "Terra-" meaning "earth" and "-site" derived from the Greek word "siltos" which means "food." Thus, terrasites are those who consume the earth as food, eventually leading to its inevitable destruction. Hmmm… which creatures could Travis being referring to that consume the earth… oh wait a minute – it's us! And also – Soylent Green is people!
The first single, "We Eat Our Young," makes it perfectly clear what the message is behind the music if the album title and concept art was over your head:
"We’ve upped the ante as the most invasive species of life that ever shat on this earth / That learned to shit in its hearth / That ever bore living birth, that taught its offspring to drive its own hearse / Straight into the dirt"
What really elevates this band, and makes them rather distinct from other bands in the grind genres is the way that Ryan delivers his vocals. His enunciation is pretty clear so you can easily discern the vocals. Additionally, Travis has mastered the cadence and timing. Not an easy feat for music that travels faster than the decline of western civilization. All of this is particularly present in their first single.
There are a lot of shifts and variations in this new record as well as the adoption of some new types of ambient sounds, especially in relation to the guitars. In fact, it took me a few listens to really catch everything that was happening, especially on the lead guitar tracks. This, however, is a good thing as listeners can discover new aspects of the songs and particular nuances upon multiple listens. This is particular apparent on "Dead End Residents" where Josh Elmore's leads are a bit distant in the mix to give some distant texture.
There is a lot to take in here in terms of sound and the ten minute plus "Just Another Body" is a riveting journey of time changes, diffusive synths, and altering levels of vocals intensity culminating in a multi-layered vocal performance that is moving and bristling with pure affect. You can't help but be lured in and feel the pain that's emanating from Travis Ryan as he just completely pours out from the depths of soul. It's one of the best songs on the record.
I will say that the intensity of this record is rather unrelenting, even for a band like this where intensity has always been the main focus. The bass guitar, at the hands of the extremely capable Olivier Pinard, is more prominent in the mix and this gives the compositions a deeper, heavier sound overall, especially on cuts like the foundation-shaking "A Photic Doom." Similar sonics are found on the pummeling "Solastaglia." While I generally listen to complete albums at a time, in order from start to finish, I actually found myself taking a few breaks here and there — that's how intense and direct this record is.
The question many will want to know the answer to is this… is Terrasite a better record than Death Atlas? In my opinion, it is not. However, the very strong caveat here is that I put Death Atlas up as one of the greatest records in the history of the deathgrind genre. Frankly, I wasn't expecting anything to top it. This doesn't mean that Terrasite is any slouch. In fact, it's another absolutely stellar release from these guys with lyrics and themes that represent the apex of today's extreme music.
All in all, this another Cattle Decapitation release that I recommend highly in the vein of the latter part of the Cattle discography. If you're a fan of Monolith of Inhumanity and The Anthropocene Extinction, this record is most definitely a must have. If you aren't a current fan, this most recent record is a very appropriate entree into the band and I firmly believe that after the first listen you'll easily recognize exactly what all the hype is about.