A press release for Cattle Decapitation says the band “brings forth the ideas of vegetarianism with the utmost brutal approach in expression, both musically and imagery. [Their] sound will bring elements of older death/grind, inbred with utterly impossible low vocals, while being stabbed by immense drumming.” The group is known for wearing masks made of beef jerky onstage, an apparent statement regarding the trivialization of animal remains for human consumption.
Their remastered Human Jerky CD is enhanced with bonus CD-Rom-type content playable on any computer, such as live footage from the jerky mask shows, downloadable desktops, and a link to the band’s website.
Song titles on the CD include “Colon Blo,” “Constipation Camp,” “Roadkill Removal Technician,” and “Parasitic Infestation (Extracted Pus Mistaken for Yogurt, and Gargled).”
2004’s Humanure album was banned in many retail outlets due to the cover illustration of a cow excreting human remains. The band’s experimental leaning on this record reared its head in the form of a ten-minute-long track constructed almost entirely of slaughterhouse field recordings. Then, the band was signed to big-time Metal Blade records, home of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond.
Says Cattle vocalist Travis Ryan, “Being on Metal Blade Records allows us to reach a higher level of exposure and ability to play in places and in front of crowds that we wouldn’t normally be able to, and that is something we need right now.”
The group’s debut for Metal Blade, To Serve Man was named after a classic episode of The Twilight Zone TV series wherein nine-foot tall alien Kanamits utilize an intergalactic cookbook to make lunchmeat out of human beings.
Between more tours, Cattle Decapitation recorded 2005’s split 7 inch shared with the canine-fronted grindcore oddity Caninus. This material saw a return-to-form in terms of song lengths but introduced an increasingly diverse range of extreme metal.
This laid the framework for 2006’s full-length Karma.Bloody.Karma. In Ryan’s words at the time, “This will be the most nihilistic, pessimistic and hateful record we’ve ever done lyrically. Musically, imagine the Caninus split material, just longer in every way.”
Singer Travis Ryan says he smuggles band merchandise (shirts, stickers, and more) into shows when he is on tour so that the band doesn’t have to pay the traditional 20-percent cut to the promoters. “They count you in at the beginning, and they count you out at the end. Let’s say you have 30 shirts less, you pay them 20 percent of what those shirts sold for.”
Cattle Decapitation were nominated Best Hard Rock Band at the 2006 San Diego Music Awards. They were nominated for two more awards in 2007: Best Hard Rock and Best Hard Rock Album.
In Autumn 2010, the band headlined the California Blood Tour with fellow locals Burning the Masses, along with Devourment, Knights of the Abyss, and Son of Aurelius. The following year, they headlined the second annual Slaughter By The Water festival, held June 25, 2011, at Craneway Pavilion in San Francisco.
In January 2012, they debuted new songs from their upcoming full-length Monolith of Inhumanity during January shows in Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Denver. That March, they played the UK and Europe with the Reborn of Death tour, featuring Cerebral Bore, Suffocation, Hate, Blood Red Throne, and Sephirah.
Monolith of Inhumanity was released just before summer 2012. Around the same time, they got a sideways nod on Adult Swim's Metalocalypse cartoon about death metal band DethKlok, who drop by a Cattle Decapitation Pet Supply store.
Summer 2012 was spent touring Europe with Suffocation, Blood Red Throne, Hate, and Cerebral Bore. They quit the Autumn Apocalypse Tour, reportedly because Six Feet Under frontman Chris Barnes allegedly punched Cattle Decapitation singer Travis Ryan during an argument.
Their summer 2013 single “Your Disposal” (on black and clear vinyl) features the B-side “An Exposition of Insides,” previously available only on the Japanese edition of their Monolith of Inhumanity album. Around the same time, a video debuted online for “Your Disposal,” directed by Mitch Massie, part of a story arc also seen in their videos for “Forced Gender Reassignment” and “Kindgom of Tyrants.”
During summer 2014, the band announced "We regret to inform our fans that due to unforeseen circumstances that are beyond our control, Cattle Decapitation will not be performing upcoming dates in Europe which included several festivals," the band announced. "We were looking very forward to touring with Possessed." No reason was given for the cancellation.
A 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after a fan was slashed at a Cattle Decapitation gig on January 8, 2015, at the 13th Frame Lounge in La Habra, California.
They spent July and August 2015 on the Summer Slaughter Tour with Arch Enemy, Born Of Osiris, Veil Of Maya, the Acacia Strain, Obscura, After the Burial, and Beyond Creation. That was followed by a North American tour with Cannibal Corpse and Soreption, kicking off October 8 in Jacksonville, FL at the Underbelly and running through November 7.
Around the same time, Phil Anselmo (Pantera) recorded a death metal EP with a group called Scour, featuring Cattle Decapitation's Derek Engemann, Chase Fraser (formerly of Animosity), Jesse Schobel (Strong Intention), and John Jarvis (Pig Destroyer).
Their Tyrants of Death tour with Suffocation and Abiotic kicked off March 2, 2016 in Warsaw Poland, running through March 25 in Oslo, Norway.
The band did their ninth European tour in 2017. “This was our first trip to Iceland,” Travis Ryan told the Reader. “It’s rare for a band to play Iceland since you have to make a special trip. It’s not part of greater Europe. We had a promoter there contact our manager about playing Reykjavík Deathfest, so that’s why we went.”
They toured New Zealand for the first time in February 2018, in support of their newest album The Anthropocene. That summer, former bassist Derek Engemann was playing with Cast the Stone, featuring Mark Kloeppel (Misery Index, Scour), Jesse Schobel (Legend, ex-Scour) and vocalist Andy Huskey, appearing on an EP for Agonia Records, Empyrean Atrophy.
Their next album featured the recorded debut of two new members, guitarist Belisario Dimuzio (Eukaryst) and bassist Olivier Pinard (Cryptopsy), but first they spent October 21 through November 17, 2018 touring with Suffocation.
Travis Ryan's collaboration with Pinback's Rob Crow Anal Trump, dropped their album The First 100 Songs via Joyful Noise on Thanksgiving 2018, featuring tracks from their previous EPs and 30 new songs.
Their Geocidal Tendencies tour with Atheist kicked off November 22, 2019 in Austin and wrapped at Brick by Brick on December 22.
April 2020, the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, found the band releasing a new music video for their song “Bring Back the Plague” featuring visual cues like toilet paper, hand sanitizers, face masks, boredom, video games, latex gloves, hand washing, and people fighting over retail goods. Says frontman Travis Ryan, "With the cancellation of our ironically titled Europandemic Tour and social distancing recommendations set in place, we found ourselves with not much to do. So we figured why not address the elephant in the room in the form of a music video for 'Bring Back The Plague' and just film it on our mobile phones instead of with an actual crew. Dave [McGraw] didn't even have access to a drum kit and nobody is leaving their houses anyways so we decided to lighten the mood with a video."
In late 2020, the band's Human Jerky album was reissued on vinyl by Three One G in three variants: 500 "Unclogged" color vinyl, 300 "Ready For Spewage" color vinyl, and 200 "Cream of the Crop" color vinyl.
In early 2021, the band released a video for their song "Finish Them," from Death Atlas. Vocalist Travis Ryan says "When traveling to Australia to embark on our Australia/New Zealand/Japan tour in early 2020, we wondered what would await us on their soil as bushfires were raging, claiming the lives of millions of wild animals, altering the lives of many of our fans and citizens of Australia. What we didn't expect was record turnouts with serious rabid fans that I think just wanted to take their minds off the current state of affairs and do their best to have a good time given the utterly sh*t circumstances they were experiencing. We quickly organized meet and greets at the last minute and were able to raise well over $25,000AUD for the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary, who had pretty much lost everything in the fires. Thanks to the incredible support from our fans down under and through other folks ready to help, they were able to rebuild. We really felt like we had been given a gift by the fans, so we wanted to give back to these people who came out and raged with us by releasing our final music video for 'Death Atlas,' which showcases how sick the shows were and how truly amazing our fans are. Look close, maybe you'll find yourself in the crowd."