Sadistic, insanely obnoxious, repulsive, ugly, offensive and downright disgusting- just some words that most people would use to describe Cattle Decapitations 2013 LP ‘Monolith of Inhumanity’ owing to the fact that the album and it’s subject matter is so brutal and bloody disgusting that even a seasoned Metalhead like me had great difficulty digesting the chainsaw-to-your-face treatment that the album dishes out. Songs with titles like ‘Forced Gender Reassignment’, lyrics that reek misanthropy, chaotic instrumentals topped off with the most ugly growling vocals you ever heard and you have the perfect recipe to create a horror show of an album, a typical metal gore feat that sick psychopaths might headbang to. But is that all or is there more? Yes there’s lots more, including one of the most beautifully and creatively constructed concepts in recent times. Monolith’s story is inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s widely famous and a cult classic, 2001:A Space Odyssey. The two pieces of art are so different from one another, the movie revels in its long silent scenes and scientific realism while the album is straight up misanthropic chaos.
The artwork for Monolith of Inhumanity depicts a bunch of apes running from a stone structure-The Monolith while a couple human looking figures crawl towards it. A half monkey half human stares at us with desperation and evil written all over his face. This and the fact that the album is called Monolith of Inhumanity are clear indicators of the fact that this album is trying to rewrite the movie’s plot albeit in a different manner. Hold on. At this point I would like to tell you a little something about Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie and my interpretation of it
In the movie you first see a bunch of apes that live who live a mindless, independent existence in an environment that isn’t really conductive of progress in any way until one day out of nowhere a monolith appears and upon contact with this monolith an ape realises the use of bones as a tool, obviously hinting at the fact that mankinds predecessors have made some progress in terms of manipulating ones environment for our own benefits
The ape then throws the bone into air and it eventually transforms into a space station. Soon we are told about a mission to land on the moon wherein a group of astronauts encounter a similar monolith which emanates a loud piercing sound, the strange happenings soon lead a team of astronauts towards Jupiter where one of the astronauts encounters the monolith once again and has mesmerising visions of vast moving landscapes and strange lightey-things much like a drug induced hallucination. Soon he finds himself in a strange room where he sees himself as an old man who sits gloomily eating dinner and soon transforms into a star-baby sort of thing that floats away in space. Head scratcher right?
Well, the way I see it, in the movie the monolith acts as a catalyst-for evolution. The ape upon contact with the monolith learnt the use of tools, evolved into man and eventually we reached the space age. Now man has become powerful enough to explore his own world fully and other celestial bodies as well, the monolith on the Lunar surface leads to a mission to Jupiter and a further contact with the monolith gave the man of the advanced ages a vision into his own future, the next step of evolution. The ape saw its future forms and developed a skill of its own. The second monolith lead man to explore Jupiter while the third one gave him a vision of maybe, just maybe, a creature from a higher dimension ( strange landscapes and ‘energies’ ). This monolith which helps in mankinds progress can therefore be termed a ‘Monolith of Humanity’.
Cattle Decapitation has a different story to tell. In their version of the story, mankind has already reached the summits of technological progress to the extent where he has destroyed his own environment and now lives by recycling vital nutrients from carcasses of other creatures. Existence is pitiable and degrading to humanity. There is no grass and no greenery, no flowers and no birds, all the beauty of Earth has disappeared and all you see in this bleak dying world is metal chips, scraps, and circuits which have replaced nature. Suddenly one of the ‘beings’ of this planet encounters a monolith, which unlike the one in the movie which is shown as something divine is portrayed here as a hellish device with blood flowing in its cracks- the blood of humanity that died a long time ago
Alas, but this time the story has a different ending. She is soon set on a murderous rampage and kills off all of her fellow beings in cold blood and murders their offspring as well and in an extremely grotesque scene unplugs her own life system and ends up killing herself, this bringing an end to mankind. This monolith gave her visions of her glorious past, when man and nature lived in harmony and there were animals and birds and beautiful landscapes on the planet. She has the sudden revelation that mankind has destroyed the planet through the facade of technological progress and in a fit of rage ends up killing her own kind. In this story, the monolith acts a device of devolution, it is in a sense a Monolith of Inhumanity.
Each song on the album has an individual thematic undertone and all the tracks are tied together by an overarching storyline inspired by one of the greatest movies ever, and presented as a contrast to the movie’s hopeful and heavenly atmosphere. The album also manages to convey a very important message about acts as a caution against rampant destruction of nature. Who knew that a Goregrind album can be so intelligent?