Date: September 4th 2017
Venue: Rebellion, Manchester
Support: Gloryhole Guillotine / Hideous Divinity / Broken Hope
It’s rare to see a band continue to soar and yet to peak more than 20 years into their career, especially when they reside in a genre that’s as abrasive and an acquired of a taste as extreme metal. Yet, come the release of seventh album ‘The Anthropocene Extinction’ in 2015, Cattle Decapitation put out their most successful record to date, and are back in the UK once again heading up the Hell On Earth tour.
Opening up on the run are grindcore newbies Gloryhole Guillotine , whose music sounds as pleasant as their name. Sure, it’s fast. Sure, it’s heavy. But it’s also pretty one-dimensional, boring, and at parts is metal-by-numbers in every way you could think. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing; you should stick to your strengths and what you know, but when the band look as bored of their own songs onstage as the fans that they’re trying to garner, frontman Carlos‘ vocals sounding frail and weak, and an embarrassing call out for their love of weed mid-set, it’s a sluggish start to the night.
The room starts to pack out a bit more in time for Italian heavy hitters Hideous Divinity , and for the first time in the evening we have somewhat of a reason to throw our devil horns in the air, at least every now and then. There’s a lot more energy onstage, and the mosh pits start to erupt here and there during the band’s 30 minute set. There’s a call-to-arms moment mid-set that gets everyone pumped up, frontman Enrico H. Di Lorenzo‘s vocals are formidable, and the band are into the groove more than the crowd, which says something and is great to see. It’s just a shame that, bar a few short exceptions, the songs don’t match the excitement that the band try to convince us to feel for them.
If there’s a scale out there for brutality, then it’s cranked up a few notches by Broken Hope  once they take control. The Chicago outfit deliver some disgusting death metal to the table; Damian Leski manages to manifest and project some pretty sickly and delightfully horrific gutturals from the pit of his stomach, which kind of makes up for the fact that, unless you’re a die-hard fan or have a lyric sheet to hand, you couldn’t even begin to work out their gory tales. It’s the band’s first ever gig in Manchester too, but you can bet from tonight that it won’t be their last.
Dread and macabre is what Cattle Decapitation  handle the best this evening, however, and within minutes of breaking into their set, the Rebellion room turns from kinda heated into a wannabe furnace. Hair is windmilling, bodies are pitting, limbs are swinging, and crowds are surfing from start-to-finish through a whirlwind of intensity from the San Diego troupe. Travis Ryan‘s vocal range is far more impressive and blood curdling in a live setting, screaming and pseudo-singing/shrieking his lungs out to the likes of ‘Kingdom Of Tyrants’, ‘Dead Set On Suicide’, and ‘Manufactured Extinct’.
Though Ryan‘s performance certainly takes the forefront of Cattle Decapitation‘s live portrayal, it’s hard to not be in awe of the blast beat assault from sticksman Dave McGraw, giving his kit a pulverising with startling speed and precision. Sweat is literally dripping from the ceiling come the time for their curtain closing encore, ‘Your Disposal’, and with that, we walk away delightfully destroyed by the deathgrind veterans.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)