CATTLE DECAPITATION Hangin’ tough.
MATTHEW ZINKE

DEATH METAL is just for fun. Most bands that play death metal rarely inject anything relatable into their music or album art. Instead, there's violence, gore, and Satanism to match the intensity of the music—just a little added shock and scariness to accent the aural brutality. Honestly, what deep message can one take away from a song called "Hammer Smashed Face" or "Severed Head Stoning"? Can songs titled "Bastard of Christ" or "Satan Spawn, the Caco-Daemon" provide any real life lessons? The lyrics are indecipherable most of the time anyway, so who cares?

San Diego's Cattle Decapitation, while enlisting a lot of the same blood splatter, scatological themes, and grotesque cover art typical in the death-metal realm, somehow manage to squeeze social commentary into their grinding attack. For example, the band's newest record, Monolith of Inhumanity, contains songs called "Projectile Ovulation" and "The Carbon Stampede." They're about overpopulation and pollution, right?

"You have to see through the veil," says Travis Ryan, the band's gurgling frontman. "It's drenched in horrible imagery and a brutal aesthetic, so it's not exactly palatable."

Since their inception, Cattle Decapitation's themes have dealt heavily with the misanthropic nature of man, and role reversals where humans are subjected to the torture and mistreatment to which we ordinarily subject animals. Consequently, the band has made fans of animal rights activists and environmentalists, and they've been pegged as supporters of those movements. Judging the band on how much distaste they seem to have for meat and mankind, you'd think they would all be vegan eunuchs with lifetime PETA memberships. But according to Travis—who, to set the record straight, is only a vegetarian—their philosophies are not that deep-seated.

"I think because of the nature of the music, [people] think we are gonna have the most extreme views on the subject, but that's never been the case. It's just our subject matter. There may be a band that has one song with a sort of misanthropic view of stuff, but that's just what our music completely embodies."

Priests and politicians need to practice what they preach (in theory). Cattle Decapitation and the rest of us can just keep having fun.