On the title track of Cattle Decapitation's 2004 album Humanure, vocalist Travis Ryan growls the line "Here's to your health." But don't get the wrong impression, as he isn't exactly trying to foster a warm and fuzzy feeling. In the same song, he invites the listener to "defecate upon the self, felch the goddamn sphinct, and gurgle its disgusting contents."
Not exactly appetizing, you say?
Well, say what you will, but at the very least, Cattle Decapitation has managed to elevate its twin fixations with gore and scatalogy to some form of conscience, however crude. As we all know, roving bands of young men who play heavy metal and preoccupy themselves with violence and the things they leave in the toilet bowl are a dime a dozen (if even that precious). But if Cattle Decapitation wants you to feel like shit — and remind you that you literally are shit — then it isn't doing so without a sense of purpose.
The Sets in Tempe
Cattle Decapitation is scheduled to perform Monday, January 26.
Of course, the band has managed to drive home its point over and over and over in no uncertain terms, and is about to do so yet again with the release of its new album, The Harvest Floor. Through various album titles and brilliant cover art images by artist Wes Benscoter, who has contributed artwork for the last four albums, the band flips the script on what humans do to cows. To Serve Man depicts skinned human corpses hanging from meat hooks; Humanure shows a cow excreting human skulls . . . You get the picture.
Each time out, one wonders how much further the band can go using essentially the same device. With Harvest Floor, Benscoter and the band hit a bull's-eye and, perhaps for the first time, convey a sense of true horror with an image that puts humans on the ramps leading up to a slaughterhouse.
Still, this begs the question: Where can Cattle Decapitation go from here? The answer? Into your intestines, for real. That's right — in a fitting twist, the band has now achieved true heavy-metal immortality by . . . having a vegan burger named after it.
"It's different from other vegan-vegetarian stuff because it's not imitating meat at all," explains bassist Troy Oftedal.
Never mind that Oftedal works as a cook at the joint that serves it, Hamilton's Pub & Cafe in the band's hometown of San Diego, and even concocted the burger himself. The decision to name it after the band was his manager, Davie Quinn's, not his. And, as Oftedal explains, most people who order the burger have no clue what Cattle Decapitation is.
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"It's a lot of older people who definitely aren't into metal or punk or hardcore or anything like that," he says. "It's like, 'Can I get the . . . What is that called?'"
Perhaps management should consider hanging some of the band's album covers on the wall?
Oftedal laughs out loud.
"I don't know how well that would go over," he says.