Upon hearing that Cattle Decapitation were releasing a new album, I merely shrugged. Their 2004 album, "Humanure," was good, but it didn't leave a very big "wow" factor. But I did get around to checking out the new album, which was fortunate because I was pretty blown away by what I heard.
"Karma. Bloody. Karma" is a huge step towards Cattle Decapitation being a great, epic band. The songs are longer, the music is much less one-dimensional and more complex, unique, and technical, and most importantly, it has a lot more standout tracks. But, despite what you may have heard, "K.B.K." has very little melody to speak of. The band's furious, teeth-rattling sonic brutality is never compromised; the drums wallop, the vocals are ultra evil (frontman Travis Ryan even mixes it up a bit by adding black meta-style shrieks to go alongside his ultra-evil growl), and the guitar riffs are feverish and uncompromising. But this grindcore quartet adopted one new, key ingredient to make "K.B.K." a leap forward: tempo changes. Listening to this disc sometimes feels like you're in a fast car which is about to veer off a cliff, but it's soon thereafter that the band pulls their lead foot off the gas pedal. Almost every song will start out almost deafening but, at one time or another, it slows way down before regaining speed/momentum and becoming brutal again. And even when the band reigns in its standard, bludgeoning sound, the momentum never dies down at all.
"Unintelligent Design" is a top-shelf death metal/grindcore song, and an excellent album opener. It bristles with brutal riffs, a quick, slamming blast beat, and roaring vocals, and also is the record's first example of a few great, strategic, professionally executed speed alterations where the song becomes a slower, pounding rhythm. "One Thousand Times Decapitation" may be only one minute long, but it's a full speed ahead, no holds barred assault on the ear drums. "The Carcass Derrick" features a sudden, shocking, mid-song pause, and some double bass drumming which makes the listener sound like his head is in an oil can which is being cracked open with a hammer. "Total Gore" and "Suspended In Coprolite" begin by blindsiding the listener with pummeling death metal blasts and careening guitars, but the band eventually pull back the reigns. The last (and perhaps biggest) standout track is the album closer, the hilariously titled "Of Human Pride & Flatulence." It begins very slowly, with some distant-sounding guitar strumming before it rockets into a breakneck speed. It's also highlighted by a slow breakdown where a melodic guitar runs over thunderous, head-rattling drums.
Every song on "Karma. Bloody. Karma." pack a high level of intensity and viciousness which will be overwhelming to everyone who doesn't have quite a bit of experience listening to death/grind. But the album is highly recommended listening to those who are experienced. This is one of the finest extreme metal releases of the year thus far, one of the best grindcore albums released since the turn of the century, and thus, it is undoubtedly a success and a leap forward for Cattle Decapitation.