Gig Review: Cattle Decapitation @ The Cambridge Hotel – Newcastle
Headliner: Cattle Decapitation
Support: Revocation + Evocatus
Venue: The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Date: Saturday, February 15th 2020
Review by Luke Winchester
Photo taken by Hayley Scott
Over the past 12 months, Newcastle, the home of steel, has been blessed with international bands coming through and tearing venues down to their pillars. Touring companies like Soundworks, Metropolis, Your Mate Bookings and of course, Destroy All Lines have been keeping in mind the sun-drenched port of Newcastle and the music community has taken notice. Fortunately for us DAL was kind enough to send two of the best bands within extreme music to Newy for our viewing and auditory pleasure, and on a Saturday no less, tonight’s going to get very rowdy.
Starting proceedings tonight is local Viking/melodic death metal band Evocatus. Having formed in 2012 the band have been hard at work releasing material and playing shows around Australia and are on the brink of doing something huge. Taking inspiration from bands like Amon Amarth, Unleashed and Kalmah, Evocatus seamlessly inflict brutal, down tuned riffs coupled with rumbling low end and devastating drums on their audience all with the enigmatic yet vicious vocalist Nich Shields at the helm. Their songs may be quite long but they never waver in engagement with the now filling Cambridge Hotel crowd and the smiling faces, raised horns and of course head banging shows that Evocatus are definitely vibing with the crowd. Donned in outfits that are fit for any battle, Evocatus focuses on material from their 2017 album Mortem in Deos (Translation: The Death of Gods) and newer, as yet released material. Evocatus showcase their world class musicianship in a tight, professional set, a real stand out in the newcastle scene, the future is certainly bright for this five piece riff machine.
Revocation are an absolute masterclass in technical death/thrash metal, no other band even comes close to the absolute surgical precision of vocalist/guitarist Dave Davidson and company. Speaking of Dave, he quips to the crowd “We’re Revocation and we’ve come here tonight to play death metal” and play Death Metal they did. Opening with the title track to their flawless 2018 album “The Outer Ones” (Seriously, how fucking cool is that album name?) the band waste no time ripping the crowd a new asshole. Revocationare fast, vicious and uncompromising, they are a modern take on the progressive death and thrash metal that bands like Gorguts, Disincarnate and Death were pushing the boundaries of in the 90’s. Revocation take it to new heights, blast beats at a blistering pace coupled with breakdowns so heavy Cthulhu himself could hear them rumbling from his profound depth. Drummer Ash Pearson (Ex-3 Inches of Blood) is an absolute pleasure to watch, flawlessly executing every technical flourish and blast that is demanded from this extreme noise, he is the vehicle that carries the band to their brutal destination, keeping the wheels well and truly attached to the path with help from bassist Brett Bamberger who has one of the fattest bass tones this reviewer has ever heard.
The band have a short amount of time to bash the crowd over the head with their signature dirge, Guitarist Dan Gargiulo(also from the gargantuanly heavy Artificial Brain) is the perfect complimentary musician to Dave Davidson’s virtuosic ways, the back and forth vocal savagery only compliments their intricate exchange of crushing riffs and ripping leads. A personal highlight of the night is their trampling rendition of “Of Unworldly Origin” which is delightfully sinister, conjuring some of the most evil lyrics of the night including:
“Forsaken rites have conjured accursed gateways, Into foul realms of unworldly origin” and “The symbols on the wall, they came alive, Hideous laughter filled the room, Reality crumbled away beneath my feet, By swirling vortexes of chaos now consumed”
Dave checks back in with the crowd “We did not come here to fuck spiders so you better unfuck those spiders and move the fuck around a bit” as they launch into the filthiest rendition of their brutal track “Resistence is Futile.” By this point the crowd is eating out of the bands sweaty hands, circle pits erupt during each song without coaxing, wide eyes bulging and head banging is rampant. The band finishes their set with a one two knockout strike of the evil thrash jaunt of “Luciferous”and the disgustingly infectious “Communion”, leaving the crowd begging for more and with 7 albums under their belt, this display of absolute ferocity and expertise it’s only a matter of time before the band are headlining in this country.
Well, how does one introduce a band like Cattle Decapitation? I mean, the band name itself incites thoughts of brutality and savagery, an animal being beheaded at the hands of a human, of course. People love dropping the fun fact that the band themselves are mostly vegan and vegetarian, and vocalist/lyricist Travis Ryan writes about his disdain for the impact of animal agriculture, humans abuse of the environment and general misanthropy. Opening with the audio track “Anthropogenic: End Transmission” rattling over the PA as the band walked onto the stage rolling straight into the absolute onslaught of “The Geocide”, blasting the ear cavities of everyone in the room. Cattle Decap are a force, absolute and brutal and tonight the band are in absolute true form, and Travis is a beast on heat, rabid and visceral, stalking the stage as if it is his own hunting grounds. “Your Disposal” from 2012’s Monolith of Humanity showcases Travis Ryan’s high witch like vocals, looking around the room at the punters with their faces screwed up as if they’ve smelt fresh shit, the ultimate compliment to an extreme metal band.
It’s really humbling watching a band with such talent gracing our local venues stage with such depravity, especially with a topical tracks like “Bring Back the Plague” and “One Day Closer To The End Of The World”, both erupting the crowd into a controlled violence only seen at shows of this extremity and it’s the chorus of bringing back the crowd that sees the crowd sing with complete abandonment of care for their own voices. The band definitely spends a lot of time focusing on their newest album, 2019s Death Atlas and with good reason, the album was added to almost every extreme metal end of the year list and is an absolute monster, seriously, if you don’t head bang to that album you might want to check your pulse. Cattle sparingly dips back into their catalogue only concentrating on their most previous 3 releases, 2012’s Monolith of Humanity, 2015’s The Anthropocene Extinction and the aforementioned Death Atlas (2019) and although it’s a little disappointing to not hear any of their earlier material the band make you forget about their deep back catalogue very quickly.
Fan favourite “Forced Gender Reassignment” erupts the pit harder than Mount Vesuvius, absolutely punishing and unrelenting, the putrid vocals that spew out of Travis Ryan are absolutely devastating, once again people in the crowd have that “Arrogant Metal Face” during every moment of this track and it doesn’t stop for the blasting “Lifestalker” which is some of the most epic music Cattle have committed to tape, guitarist Josh Elmore’s leads on this track are uplifting and Travis’ voice reaches new heights. The band did not let up for the full first half of their set, Travis Ryan did not spend much time talking to the crowd allowing them to fit in a full set of outright auditory atrocity. The back half of their set is no less brutal, whether it be the barbarous blasting “Plagueborne”, the disgusting grind of “Clandestine Ways (Krokodil Rot)” or the endless crushing of “Death Atlas”, Cattle show Newcastle so much love and although it would be easy to fall to extreme metal fatigue, Travis Ryan and co do not waver in keeping the crowd engaged.
It should be noted that Cattle Decapitation have some of THE most talented musicians in the world in their ranks, drummer David McGraw is an absolute freak of nature, his ability to flawlessly inject rattling blast seamlessly into over an hour of extremely complicated metal is absolutely astonishing. Bass player Oliver Pinard (Cryptopsy, Ex-Neuraxis) has a filthy low end tone that would put anyone to shame and guitarist Belisario Dimuzio (who is the newest member of the band) fits like a glove, complementing the other members perfectly. The aforementioned guitarist and main songwriter Josh Elmore is a virtuoso, a God amongst insects, ok, maybe that’s going a bit far but by fuck he can write the absolute hell out of a death metal song. Of course, the vocal stylings of Travis Ryan, who has pushed the limits of what it means to be an extreme metal vocalist with his high screeches, low, guttural growls and his raving witch/goblin clean vocals bring the entire dementedpuzzle together. Collectively they produce some of the tightest most efficiently brutal music the world has ever seen.
The band know that they have a reputation to be absolutely relentless with their aural attack and they have showcased this tonight, ending their set with an encore of “Manufactured Extinction” and the jaw droppingly brutal “Kingdom of Tyrants”and just as quickly as they came Cattle Decapitationdisappeared from the stage and into the night, leaving the crowd exhausted and elated. Not to sound like a sadomasochist but let’s hope they’re back soon to beat the absolute fuck out of us again and soon. Special thanks to Destroy All Lines for putting together this brutal tour and for having us go along.
Catch Cattle Decapitation on their remaining tour dates below: