Travis Ryan: All Vocals
Josh Elmore: Lead Guitar
Belisario Dimuzio: Rhythm Guitar
Olivier Pinard: Bass
David McGraw: Drums
Though many bands have tried, no one articulates the real apocalypse humanity is facing as vividly and succinctly as Cattle Decapitation. With 2019's Death Atlas they reached the apex of this, perhaps leading some to believe they had no place left to go beyond such an achievement, but now they return with Terrasite, which is as bold a statement as they have ever made. "After a record like Death Atlas you have to make a turn," states guitarist Josh Elmore. "Everything about that album - the concept, artwork, music, etc, was a final statement. The only way to move forward is rebirth. In approaching the newest record it was not only necessary to keep the musical trajectory the band has been aiming towards since the beginning, but also to further explore the ambient/textural elements that were part of Death Atlas." As such, Terrasite pushes their sound further into more epic and varied territory, and in the hands of vocalist Travis Ryan the governing concept takes a new and disturbing direction. "I wanted to do the 180° opposite of Death Atlas. I already had the concept idea from years back and since Death Atlas was so dark and brooding, I wanted a completely opposite effect - I wanted this to take place in the daylight. I've always found daytime horror to be really unsettling so I wanted to make sure what was going on on the cover took place in the light of day, which also finds its place within the lyrics."
Written both separately and during sessions together in San Diego - which required certain members to regularly fly into the city - the record came together naturally, though not without personal struggle. Every member of their current lineup - Elmore, Ryan, guitarist Belisario Dimuzio, bassist Olivier Pinard and drummer David McGraw - has grown to fill their musical niche in the band, and learned how to get the best out of each other, making for their most accomplished work to date. Roaring to life with the savage yet hauntingly melodic "Terrasitic Adaptation" and advancing through the likes of the relentless "We Eat Our Young" and culminating with the ten-plus minutes of "Just Another Body", it is an album that constantly shifts dynamics, and demands a variety of emotional responses. "All the Cattle hallmarks are there; ripping blasts, abrasive and aggressive guitar/bass riffs and Travis's varied vocal approach; but this record just feels different. I don't know how else to put it. There is a deep richness to the guitar tones and a more prominent bass guitar presence, the drums parts are assaultive, but tasteful and Travis' vocals are as varied as they've ever been but with an added emotional depth. The whole record sounds like a somber panic attack; like mourning the loss of a loved one at Mach 3," says Elmore. "The trademark Cattle intensity is always there, but this time at paces that range from frantic to controlled and driving but with more focus on menacing heaviness. The ambient and effect-laden guitar presence also takes up a much larger part of the whole experience."
The title is a word invented by Ryan that brings together 'Terra-' meaning earth and '-site' derived from the Greek word '-sitos' which means 'food'. "The combination of the two meaning 'earth-eater', as a metaphor for humanity's role in the destruction of the planet, and is a play-on-words of the very fitting word 'parasite'." This is vividly brought to life in the artwork by longtime collaborator Wes Benscoter. "We see the nymph stage of this human/cockroach hybrid that is more of a fully grown being that has just molted from its ootheca stage, startled, confused, frightened but also pissed off and ready to join the rest of its brood in finishing humanity's job of destroying the Earth." When asked where he is coming from lyrically on this record, Ryan frankly states "from a place of distress. Anger, rage, resentment, depression, anxiety, a poor outlook on our species both on a day-to-day level, a broader, worldly level as well as a philosophical level." For example, the lyrics of "A Photic Doom" "are more of just a metaphor for being alone in your head and turning away from the life that is exposed by the light of day. Shaking your fist at the sun for exposing this place to us. For uncovering the depravity of our species and casting light onto subjects rather than letting them rest in the darkness". Then there is "Scourge Of The Offspring" which "makes up the bulk of the album's concept that the first song "Terrasitic Adaptation" and the cover art sort of set into motion. In the first song we find out what's going on on the cover, and this song deals more with what our children will end up being - adult humans, shat out and left to make sense of this world only to end up being part of the problem simply by existing."
The band once again worked with producer Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Allegaeon), who knows the members' individual styles and how to coax the best out of them, bringing in Tony Parker of Midnight Odyssey to handle piano and synths. Just prior to joining his bandmates, and with some lyrics yet to be written, Ryan received some tragic news, with friend and Cattle Decapitation co-founder Gabe Serbian taking his own life. "The news and all the pressure going into the album spun my head completely around and out of control. While not being able to properly grieve the loss of Gabe - a friend who meant so much to us and was attached to an incredibly large network of friends that begins locally and stretches across the globe, my mind went into an incredibly dark place and then within a couple weeks of being there we learned that our friend Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder) had taken his life as well. It just felt like things were unraveling for so many of our friends whom we consider family, having lost a couple friends after two years of everyone trying to get through the pandemic and navigate through this to come out on the other end with everything still together." All of this informed the lyrics to the epic closer "Just Another Body", Ryan stating "all these months later, after many listens, it still has a shroud around it that will never disappear. It was written during some of the hardest moments in this band's career."
With the record finally realized, and dedicated to Serbian's memory, the band are looking ahead to touring, promising sets rich with Terrasite songs as well as some tracks people have not heard live in years. They are also understandably proud to still be going strong after two and a half decades, and to have stayed relevant. "We are one of the few bands that have never rested on our laurels and keep pushing ourselves to improve. At this stage of our careers we could easily be trying to rewrite Monolith Of Inhumanity (2012) over and over, but since we did not and have never settled that way, the end results were The Anthropocene Extinction (2015), Death Atlas (2019) and now Terrasite, which have pushed us further into more mature and experimental territory," says Elmore. "I just feel with the way things change so drastically nowadays, especially the last three or four years, that it's surprising an extreme metal band can not only be around for so damn long but still stay anchored in this constantly changing scene that's dictated where it's going to go by younger generations - and still maintain relevance," adds Ryan. "Our band truly is an anomaly. I'd prefer to keep it that way."