Few know grind quite as well as Cattle Decapitation. Their 24-year long career has seen them soar through the underworld and become one of the most prolific bands in extreme metal with a die-hard message behind their tracks. 2019’s Death Atlas, their highly-anticipated eighth studio album, sees them expanding their musical terrain as their music becomes more atmospheric, enveloping, and yet simultaneously more ferocious. Around the release of Death Atlas, we caught their show on January 11th, at The Bread Shed in Manchester on November 1st, with Old Wharf and Osiah supporting.
Old Wharf is a “hybrid beatdown” outfit from Wolverhampton (UK) who has been gathering traction on the underground scene over the last year or so. Their combinations of breakdowns, gutturals, and occasionally rap perforated through the eardrums of the UK and worldwide audience alike as their music hit the multimedia platform Slam Worldwide, accelerating their success.
As they hit The Bread Shed’s stage, a few dedicated fans pop out of the crowd, yet for many, this seemed to be the first exposure to Old Wharf. This didn’t hinder the slam/beatdown outfit, however, as they immediately erupt into their distorted, aggressive and no-nonsense sound. The quintet delivers a varied setlist, with some songs mainly consisting of beatdowns (to which a few members of the crowd happily responded), damning gutturals from Hayden Shemilt, and energy aplenty.
One thing which was quite noticeable about the Wolvo outfit was their camaraderie and appreciation for their spot on Cattle Decapitation’s run. Despite some sound and light issues scattered through the set (the gain was too high in places and the lights were flickering on occasion, distracting some of the members), their performance was admirable and opened up the night with plenty of approval from the audience. Their interactions with the crowd created plenty of energy and warmed the crowd up excellently.
After watching their performance, it’s quite surprising to think that they had only been performing for just over a year as they had the professionalism, energy, and consideration of a band with a significantly longer shelf life – further proving their worth and that they are well-deserving of their escalating position in the UK underworld. For an opening act, the crowd got quite the treat.
After Old Wharf, we head into more deathcore-oriented fields with the UK veterans Osiah, who have risen up the ranks significantly in recent years. Their presence on this bill was undoubtedly welcomed by the mass of people filling The Bread Shed as their entrance was met with a barrage of cheers and applause from those who knew what they were in for. Osiah takes the stage and presents a high level of enthusiasm and professionalism throughout, especially from their dynamite drummer Noah Plant who shook the floor with blast beats and complex drumming.
Vocalist Ricky Lee Roper offered a domineering and intense stage presence, casting his eyes around the crowd to generate tension which was well-received as an eruptive melee ensued as each track began. Limbs flew as the audience burst into breakdown two-steps and all manner of carnage when Osiah presented the fan favourite, “Humanimals,” despite it beginning to blend together towards the end, their performance was a testament to the power of British deathcore. Performing a solid mix of material off their most recent record, Kingdom of Lies, and their Terra Firma debut, they had the crowd in the palms of their hands; to say the crowd was adequately warmed up for Cattle Decapitation would be an understatement.
It’s been quite some time since Cattle Decapitation last hit the UK after their 2017 promotional run of The Anthropocene Extinction, and as such, the anticipation in the crowd was electric. Buzzed words of excitement and impatience flew before the lights dropped and the evolved grind masters immediately entered into Death Atlas’ “The Geocide” – a now fan-favourite.
Old Wharf and Osiah had prepared the Manchester crowd somewhat for Cattle Decapitation, however, the enduring intensity throughout their set was spell bounding. The room of The Bread Shed seemed to shrink as a multitude more bodies crammed to the front of the venue, and the unending carnage of Cattle Decapitation’s set can be summarized into the chants of “let’s go fucking mental!” by the hyped-up crowd.
In terms of material, the San Diego natives performed a diverse range of tracks mainly from their last three albums, including a good handful from Death Atlas, despite it not being released for almost another month. Vocalist Travis Ryan might have admitted to having “a bit too much to drink” before coming on, undoubtedly in celebration of the tour, but there were no actual signs of this in his performance. His gutturals were as ferocious as ever, and the difficult, almost clean vocals in tracks like “Time’s Cruel Curtain” and “The Geocide” seemed effortless from the vocal innovator. His presence is absolute throughout the duration of the show; getting into the crowds’ faces, wearing their glasses, and generally sharing mutual excitement as they blast through their discography.
Fan favourites “Forced Gender Reassignment” and “The Prophets Of Loss” were met with an uproar both vocally and physically, as die-hard fans screamed every word along and the pit grew larger and larger – a testament to the band’s success. Finishing the performance off with an announcement of playing Bloodstock Open Air Festival in 2020 and the behemoth “Your Disposal” left the crowd soaring.
Overall, all groups each performed at the top of their game and for Cattle Decapitation, in particular, it was a roaring success. Their presence is always welcome in Manchester, with the size of The Bread Shed allowing for an enthralling show with plenty of movement from the audience, and maintaining the intimate, filthy atmosphere one would crave for a line-up such as this. Their release of Death Atlas cemented them as one of the most diverse, powerful and innovative metal bands of this era to date, and their live shows have only gone to support that claim. The sheer ferocity with which they conduct their performances, and the dedicated fanbase they have, make for an eclectic and mesmerizing atmosphere every time they take the stage. One only wonders or attempts to, what direction they’ll take next time they hit the studio.