Concert Review with PHOTOS: Cattle Decapitation

Photos by Mark Derricutt

Photos by Mark Derricutt

By Mark Derricutt

Artist: Cattle Decapitation with special guests Silent Torture, Scorn Of Creation & Organectomy

Date / Venue: Thursday February 8th, 2018 - Kings Arms, Auckland

Cattle Decapitation - the name alone conjures up disturbing visuals in the mind even knowing nothing about them. Combined with their graphic and often controversial artwork and you're left, as an outsider with a shiver down your back, a taste of bile in your throat, a sense of dread and disgust - and you've not even heard the music yet...

That sense of dread and disgust is intentional, but not for the usual "gore factor" reasons one may assume - buried somewhat beneath the surface of Cattle Decapitation you'll discover a band outspoken on veganism, ethical treatment of animals, the environment - and wrapping that up in a dark twisted misanthropic view, they're uncommon topics for death/grind bands - and it's one hold Cattle Decapitation apart from the rest.

But enough of that, let's talk about the show. Due to a lack of on-site security - the venue delayed allowing patrons inside, so the night was starting off running late. But it wasn't too long until we were tucked up inside and Auckland's Silent Torture were hitting the stage. Every time I see these guys perform I'm amazed that a band so young can sound so polished and tight. I've said it before - but they know their chosen genre back to front, and even with a constrained stage setup due to setting up in-front of Cattle Decapitation's kit, they pulled off a killer show.

Second up were Wellington based Scorn of Creation - hot off their self-titled album release week and favourable reviews of the album release show, I was keen on witnessing the show for myself. Technical difficulties with guitars, drum monitors, samplers, saw the set delayed, and then started without intro/backing samples for songs, which threw the flow of band off kilter and left me less enthused for the performance. But once they got in the flow things picked up and the set was going killer…. then guitarist Seth Jackson broke a string and interrupted the flow once again, it wasn't long until we were back into it. It felt like every plague one could wish upon a live set befell them this evening. An unfortunate dampener on a first introduction to the band, but seeing them play thru and continue on left me respect and a hunger for more.

Rounding out the support acts - Christchurch's Orgonectomy hit the stage. Sound samples appear to have been sorted, although now the mix feels unbalanced. Guitars and vocals are sitting below the drums and feeling somewhat lost in the mix, but as the set progressed the sound appears to have been sorted out. Based on the mosh pit - I suspect it was only me being critical here. Riding the back of December 2017's release Domain of the Wretched, Organectomy put on one hell of a show and the pit was growing in aggression with each riff. There's a moment when you feel the air around you suck away and you realise a circle pit is swelling, as I raise my cameras in front of the fold backs just in time to whether the storm of bodies crushing into you..

You remind yourself you booked an overdue GP visit for a knee injury during Scorn of Creations set and escape the darkened pit as the storm of bodies passes. I let Orgonectomy's dulcet tones wash over me as I prepared for tonight's headline act - Cattle Decapitation.

Few words come to mind to describe the scene before me — If I thought the stage was cramped for the support acts, two large billboards promoting recycling the planet get carried on stage to flank the drum kit either side, as band members attempt to work out how to fit/work the stage whilst performing last minute sound checks.

Tonight's lighting setup was already dark and moody, but as the intro music played and the band returned to the stage, the lights remained dimmed. Under the cover of near extinct light we were thrown into carnage as the band kicked in - as if triggered as a drum slave, a circle pit erupts and comes crashing into a collective of concert photographers (and other patrons) with arms and cameras flailing around as we try to capture a photo, maybe even a single frame that's in focus. I lasted all of 1.5 songs before finding myself now on the outskirts of the crowd as the current of bodies moved around the stage, I took this as a chance to escape further to edges of relative safety, and made my way to the rear of The King Arms to catch some long shots, and soak in the band.

I'll admit to everyone I'm hopeless at remembering names - especially of people I've just met, and of song titles. One downside of the new MP3/streaming world we live in - no longer do I sit there reading album covers and lyrics back and forth, and having those titles ingrained in my ears. And yet - the ease at which frontman Travis Ryan can move from to insane death growl to melodic scream is as smooth and polished live as it on record, and it's those melodic screams and passages amongst the dirge that pull me into Cattle Decapitation's music - memorable hooks that ground the sound and gives me something identify what song I'm hearing - I often still have no recollection of what that song was called, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating and enjoying the music, or the show.

And what the show it was - Cattle Decapitation continue to their 3 night tour tonight (Friday) in Christchurch, at Club Tavern, and tomorrow (Saturday) at Valhala in Wellington.