Cattle Decapitation vocalist Travis Ryan
w/ Carcass car, Munich, DE

When Cattle Decapitation first announced their tour, which starts this Wednesday (dates below), alongside Psyopus, Gigan, and Book of Black Earth, I wasn’t excited. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Cattle Decapitation; when I lived in San Francisco, they seemed to play there every other month. They were hit-or-miss live. Likewise, Psyopus‘ last record (which I reviewed here) impressed me with its technicality but confused me mightily. What I’d heard of Gigan didn’t stick, either. As I age, technical music appeals to me less and less.

Cattle Decapitation – The Gardeners of Eden
Psyopus – The Burning Halo
Gigan – Interstellar Inversion of Consciousness

But then I reviewed Cattle Decapitation’s new record, The Harvest Floor, for Decibel. It’s a monster. (It comes out tomorrow on Metal Blade. Until the end of today, you can stream it in its entirety and read song-by-song commentary by vocalist Travis Ryan here.) Sure, it’s technical. But it’s also quite emotional, the band’s first record with any depth. Likewise, Psyopus’ new record, Odd Senses, is surprisingly human. (It’s out February 17 on Metal Blade.) Fretboard gymnastics are still plentiful, but now there are things that actually resemble songs. The sound is rawer than before, and the vibe is scratchy and desperate. Finally, Gigan’s The Order of the False Eye (Napalm, 2008), has been soundtracking my days recently. I’m not sure I like it, but I’m sure I don’t dislike it. It’s strange, messy, and naggingly addictive – imagine Morbid Angel crossed with Voivod and a whole lotta drugs. I love how in “Interstellar Inversion of Consciousness,” the right-side guitar spends a great deal of time attacking strings with the pick, instead of playing discrete notes.

In other words, this bill is perfectly matched – bands who are technical but queasily quirky. The relatively straightforward Book of Black Earth will have a tough job opening, but they should provide welcome variety. Those at the January 25 LA show will get an added bonus. It’s also the record release show for Dreaming Dead, whose debut, out January 20 on Ibex Moon, is probably the best death metal record I’ve heard in years. I’m not kidding. Also, the new Kylesa record KILLS. Metal in 2009 is off to a scorching start.

“Killing ‘Til Oblivion 2009” tour

1/21 Santa Barbara, CA – The Jensen Mainstage
1/22 Bakersfield, CA ? Studio 99 (no Book of Black Earth)
1/23 Berkeley, CA – 924 Gilman Street
1/24 San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside
1/25 Hollywood, CA – Knitting Factory (w/Dreaming Dead)
1/26 Tempe, AZ – The Sets
1/27 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
1/28 El Paso, TX – Uncle Paulie’s Pub
1/29 Austin, TX – Red 7
1/30 San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit
1/31 Houston, TX – Java Jazz
2/01 Metairie, LA – The High Ground
2/02 Pensacola, FL – American Legion Post 33
2/03 Jacksonville, FL – Fuel Coffeehouse
2/04 Orlando, FL – Back Booth
2/05 Tampa, FL – The Orpheum
2/07 Tallahassee, FL – The Engine Room
2/09 Little Rock, AR – The Village
2/10 Dallas, TX – The Lounge on Elm Street
2/11 Farmington, NM – Gator’s
2/12 Tucson, AZ – The Rock
2/13 San Marcos, CA – The Jumping Turtle