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Progressive Death Metal, Grindcore


Over the course of their existence, the San Diego-based Cattle Decapitation have transformed from a stripped-down, animal rights-supporting, gore-grind side project of the Locust to a full-fledged death metal band of their own. Emerging in the late ’90s with a punitive sonic attack that evoked decibel-crushing contemporaries like Carcass and Cannibal Corpse, the group eventually signed to Metal Blade Records and, musically, took on more of a professional death metal sound on notable outings such as Monolith of Inhumanity (2012) and Death Atlas (2019), while retaining their original pro-vegetarian/gore-oriented lyrical stance. The band’s tenth album, Terrasite, appeared in 2023.

Human Jerky
Cattle Decapitation formed in San Diego in 1996. The lineup originally featured David Astor on bass and Gabe Serbian on drums — both were then also members of the Locust — as well as an unknown guitarist/vocalist, who allegedly vanished without the other members knowing anything about his whereabouts. Seeking a replacement on vocals, the group turned to Travis Ryan, who had actually been playing drums for another San Diego metal band, Strangulation, in addition to serving as vocalist in a gore metal group called Anal Flatulence. With Ryan on board, Astor moved from bass to drums, and Serbian moved from drums to guitar. This lineup quickly released two albums, the Human Jerky LP (on the Nevada label Satan’s Pimp) and the Homovore CD/LP.

To Serve Man
Next, they added a bassist, Troy Oftedal, with whom they recorded their third full-length, To Serve Man, released in the fall of 2002 on Metal Blade, a move that would expose them to a more death metal-oriented audience (as opposed to the primarily hardcore/grindcore one that they had been playing to before). Also in 2002, the band added a second guitarist, Josh Elmore (formerly of 7000 Dying Rats), who eventually took over as their sole guitarist after Serbian left in order to devote himself more fully to the the Locust. (Serbian plays drums in the Locust, replacing Astor, who ironically had left the Locust so that he could more fully devote himself to Cattle Decapitation.) Astor left after To Serve Man and was replaced by Creation Is Crucifixion drummer Michael Laughlin for the 2004 release Humanure. A split 7″ with Caninus arrived in 2005, followed by the full-length Karma. Bloody. Karma in 2006, which featured guest vocals by the Locust’s Joey Karam. 2009 saw the departure of bassist Troy Oftedal, as well as the release of the full-length Harvest Floor.

The Anthropocene Extinction
Monolith of Inhumanity, the group’s seventh studio album and first offering to dabble in melody, arrived in May 2012. The Anthropocene Extinction appeared in 2015 and became the first Cattle Decapitation album to crack the Billboard 200. It would also be the last studio outing for bass player Derek Engemann, who had joined in 2011 and left the fold shortly after the album’s release. Cryptopsy bassist Olivier Pinard joined the band for album number nine, 2019’s Death Atlas.

The myriad members of Cattle Decapitation have been involved in several side projects, among them Oftedal’s punk/metal band DisreantiyouthhellchristbastardassmanX, Ryan’s noise project 5/5/2000, and UUM, another noise project involving both Ryan and Oftedal. Cattle Decapitation returned in 2023 with the album Terrasite.