This month I'm going to jump ahead in time and cover some second and third wave stuff. It gets a little complicated, as what is considered legitimate death metal gets debatable and genre definitions as a whole have become ridiculously specific. There is technical death metal, brutal death metal, progressive death metal, melodic death metal, metalcore... I'm not going to over think it. We'll just cover a few more modern releases this month.
California's Cattle Decapitation started as a gore grind band in the late 90's. By 2002, they had refined their sound to a more traditional New York style death metal. 2004's Humanure shows the band at their most appealing phase - rhythmically and musically complex without sounding overly academic.
Travis Ryan's dual vocals (one guttural, the other dinosaur-esque) are a key element to the band's sound. Michael Laughlin is damn impressive behind the kit too. The rhythmic elements really drive Cattle Decapitation on this release. Tempo changes, break downs, and plenty of blastbeats keep Humanure engaging and keep it from sounding redundant. There is also a fair amount of chromatic melody to be had from the string section. This is musically speaking, a very complex record which demands repeated listens. Album highlights include the title track and Chummified - two examples of dynamic song structure with "morbid" sounding minor 4th harmonies on the guitars.
Cattle Decapitation are well known for their animal rights advocacy. They are vegans that use the brutal imagery to make a not-so-subtle point about man's cruelty to animals. In this format, it thankfully doesn't come off as preachy, and the message is somewhat muddy without a lyric sheet anyway. As I mentioned, this sounds like east coast death metal - Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation being the immediately recognizable influences. It has a bit of an old school feeling while still remaining very modern sounding. The production is pretty impressive, though I could handle the guitars being a bit louder. Cattle Decapitation are one of the few modern bands doing death metal right, and Humanure is my favorite album of theirs. It gets a 4 out of 5.