Live Review: Cattle Decapitation, Stylus, Leeds

We have been waiting a long time for this veritable feast of the finest of all sides of death metal. The venue is one of our favourites too, in fact this tour was so popular that many of the venues have been upgraded and this particular show proved too gargantuan for The Key Club and within days of being announced was upgraded to the wonderful multi-level Stylus venue at Leeds University. So let’s take one last look at the world as we know it because this quadruple bill is primed for total devastation!

Vomit Forth are our opening act and they deal in a great line in chunky death metal with hardcore leanings and a boundless sense of groove. Kane Gelaznik’s repeated cries for circle pits may seem optimistic at this hour but you can’t fault their energy, enthusiasm and those all-important catchy riffs. Vomit Forth delivers hard hitting metal with excessive bounce that gets this celebration of deathly grooves set off right! By the end of their set a lot of the crowd, ourselves included can be seen making a note to check out their last couple of releases through the awesome Century Media stable, so we’d call that a job well done. Kane’s “Itty bitty pieces motherfucker!” war cry invokes a fearsome early wall of death, and this is perhaps a reference to what comes next….

Opening with the gory ‘Phallic Filth’ intro with tape stretching and screaming, 200 Stab Wounds then launch into ‘Masters Of Morbidity’ and for the next half hour Leeds is treated to a barrage of prime cuts from their awesome ‘Slaves To The Scalpel’ album. The bands live sound just as grimy and brilliant tonight as on that record. The low-end chunk and D-Beat pummeling is relentless and the old school heads are banging furiously. The band favouring the mid-pace switch up with the odd splatter of horrorcore tremolo picked evil. Low end chug is king here and tracks like ‘Tow Rope Around The Throat’ are as filthy as an old, battered VHS copy of ‘Faces Of Death’ with lyrics to match. This is death metal done the old way in a modern setting. It’s driving and nasty and it’s just how we like it! 200 Stab Wounds are at their best when they hit that midrange groove, this is a band that thrive on locking in after a quick blast and when they drop into it, it screws your face into an involuntary nose scrunch, and you utter an audible ooooh! That’s it right there, and your hand adopts what we call, “The Grapefruit Grip,” (Imagine that you’re holding an invisible grapefruit) this happens several times within almost every track they assault us with. This band is killing the old way, and some would say, the best way!

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Signs of the Swarm are easily leading the charge for precision technical deathcore, David Simonich’s vocals are more than a match for his contemporaries and Bobby Crow’s drumming is frankly ludicrous! Opening with the 2020 single ‘Pernicious’ the crowd lap up their utterly battering take on this style, they are the younger element’s champions we’d say. With much of the set using blistering cuts from ‘Amongst The Low and Empty’, including a ripping airing of that album’s title track complete with THAT breakdown and operating with a scorched earth policy, Signs of the Swarm at full pelt is quite an experience that comes at you from all sides and sounds utterly state of the art. If 200 stab wounds were a masterclass in the old school, Signs are a high grade, thoroughly modern machine that’s fine tuned to destroy! Simonich has the crowd at his every command responding like loyal soldiers to his instructions, when he says, “Circle Pit”, they duly obliged, when he says “scream” they scream, this mosh pit is right in the palm of his hands! Wherever you stand on their brand of clinically expert deathcore you can’t deny the audience reaction especially with the youth in the crowd who are collectively losing their shit to final track, ‘Shackles Like Talons’ with giant grins on their faces.

All of this is a distant memory when Cattle Decapitation hit the stage, within seconds it’s like they’ve said, that’s cute, let’s actually demolish the place! The band are utterly imperious from the off, vocalist Travis Ryan particularly sounds phenomenal! Opening with a Terrasite trilogy in ‘Terrasitic Adaption’, ‘We Eat Our Young’ and ‘Scourge of the Offspring’, the band are clearly not promoting past glories. It’s an absolute whirlwind of metallic perfection with drummer, David McGraw’s relentless blast beat fury machine gunning all in his path and the dual guitars of Josh Elmore and Belisario Dimuzio drilling into the centre of your brain with no mercy whatsoever! His holiness Sir David Attenborough even makes a guest appearance or at least his voice does before ‘The Storm Upstairs’. Travis even introduces the songs like Death AtlasBring Back The Plague in several voices truly making him almost the Andy Serkis of death metal! Ryan is an unbelievably innovative gift for the scene and Cattle Decapitation are one in a league of one.

They are and have always been their own section of the scene and no one sounds quite like them and on tonight’s form no one can even touch them. These days there’s so much talk about vocalists and vocal technique but Travis Ryan has been breaking new ground over and over again for years even in the face of the adversity of his own diehards. Put simply tonight Cattle Decapitation are utterly untouchable!  ‘A Photic Doom’ sounds like the end of the world is happening right now and this is its anthem! In the last few months, we have witnessed some incredible bands, but this is next level destruction, in their lyrical realm it’s musically akin to an extinction level event, which is exactly what we believe Cattle Decapitation intended. Did we even mention Olivier Pinard’s ridiculous bass playing? His fingers a total blur rumbling alongside the warp speed guitar. Hearing a band with such an authoritative vocalist it’s almost easy to forget the virtuosity at play musically here, always steeped in forbidding end of days tone and vast swathes of drama in-between the all-out shredding. All in all, it’s one of the most overwhelmed performances out there currently, certainly within the realms of extreme metal. My god it’s not the end of the world when they leave but it kind of feels like it!

As ‘Kingdom of Tyrants’ provides the death rattle we are all clung to the side of this musical atomic bomb as it descends all the way down and destroys everything we know!

Review & All Photos By George Miller –

Vomit Forth

200 Stab Wounds

Signs of the Swarm

Cattle Decapitation