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Over the course of their existence, the San Diego-based Cattle Decapitation have transformed from a stripped-down gore-grind side project of the arty hardcore/grindcore band the Locust to a full-fledged death metal band of their own, undergoing a confusing maze of lineup changes in the process. The association with the Locust formed much of the original basis for CD's popularity in hardcore circles, which was unusual for a band that growled out the type of disturbing, gore-oriented lyrics usually reserved for Carcass/Cannibal Corpse audiences. However, as the years went by and the band's connections to the Locust were finally severed personnel-wise, it became clear that CD were indeed a real band on its own, not a side project; they eventually signed to established metal powerhouse label Metal Blade Records and, musically, took on more of a professional death metal sound while retaining their original pro-vegetarian/gore-oriented lyrical stance.
Cattle Decapitation originally formed in San Diego in 1996. The lineup originally featured David Astor on bass and Gabe Serbian on drums — both were then also members of the Locust — as well as an unknown guitarist/vocalist, who allegedly vanished without the other members knowing anything about his whereabouts. Seeking a replacement on vocals, the band turned to Travis Ryan, who had actually been playing drums for another San Diego metal band, Strangulation, in addition to serving as vocalist in a gore metal band called A**l Flatulence. With Ryan on board, Astor moved from bass to drums, and Serbian moved from drums to guitar. This lineup quickly released two albums, the Human Jerky LP (on the Nevada label Satan's Pimp) and the Homovore CD/LP.
Next, they added a bassist, Troy Oftedal, with whom they recorded their third full-length, To Serve Man, released in the fall of 2002 on Metal Blade, a move that would expose them to a more death metal-oriented audience (as opposed to the primarily hardcore/grindcore one that they had been playing to before). Also in 2002, the band added a second guitarist, Josh Elmore (formerly of 7000 Dying Rats), who eventually took over as the band's sole guitarist after Serbian left in order to devote himself more fully to the the Locust. (Serbian plays drums in the Locust, replacing Astor, who ironically had left the Locust so that he could more fully devote himself to Cattle Decapitation). Astor left after To Serve Man and was replaced by Creation Is Crucifixion drummer Michael Laughlin for the 2004 release Humanure. A split 7" with Caninus arrived in 2005, followed by the full-length Karma. Bloody. Karma in 2006, which featured guest vocals by the Locust's Joey Karam. 2009 saw the departure of bassist Troy Oftedal, as well as the release of the full-length Harvest Floor. Monolith of Inhumanity, the group's seventh studio album, arrived in May, 2012.
The members of Cattle Decapitation are involved in several side projects, among them Oftedal's punk/metal band DisreantiyouthhellchristbastardassmanX, Ryan's noise project 5/5/2000, and UUM, another noise project involving both Ryan and Oftedal.