Reign Supreme (Relapse)
In a perfect world DYING FETUS would be a much bigger band than they are. Granted they didn’t pick a moniker when they were starting out based on commercial viability. Still, I used to get mad years ago when I would meet some fellow metal heads and they didn’t know this band to be one of the leaders of all of death metal. In the years that have passed since then DYING FETUS has continued to stay consistent and make great music, despite having to watch other bands rise in popularity, headline festivals and sell more records. Not that the band gives two shits about that either. They just do what they do year after year: they make some of the best, most brutal music on the planet.
I first heard “Invert The Idols” on the bands’ spring tour and it blew me away with it’s sick musician ship and speed. Consider this is one of the best bands in the genre and fast what they do naturally, and that prior statements gets some context. Right off the bat the production sounds miles better than their last album, which sounded pretty good. The drums sit in the pocket with all the sick vocals while guitar and bass sound evenly balanced and clear. Many death metal bands prefer crude production, but I have always appreciate that the FETUS guys are musicians who care about the how their albums sound. The opening sweep picking riff will take the wind out of you while you try to process it. The song is blisteringly fast and over in a blink at just over two minutes. Similarly “Subject to a Beating” is another mind-blowing blast-beat laden romp. This time both John Gallagher and Sean Beasley share the vocal leads and compliment each other like never before. They both veer back and forth between the growled indecipherable vocals and then clearer, understandable ones. Mostly, they use their voices as extra instruments like many vocalists in the style. Some of the riffs on the album pack in all types of scales and licks performed with a precision not usually possible at these inhuman speeds. Prog is not a word I tend to think of when discussing this band, but there are definite proggy moments on this album. As a trio they have never backed down from being great players. “Second Skin” is another fast crusher that has elements of music beyond standard death metal styles. This album has some excellent groove parts on it too, which the band hasn’t over-used like just about every other band. “From Womb to Waste” begins with what is surely the sample of 2012: “It’s not my fault I’m pregnant and I love drugs. Who cares? Fuck the baby. Let it die!”. The grinding beat of the song and the mean riffs give it a sinister, eerie effect. Drummer Trey Williams has been at the forefront of death drummers for ages, but doesn’t often get mentioned in the year end lists. He is tight at any tempo and whether it is using choice fills on slow beats or insanely fast parts, he is as strong on record as he is live. “Dissidence” sounds awesome with its manic opening and both vocalists unleashing a howling scream. The song is more like a classic FETUS cut, when they were a little more hardcore influenced (don’t you dare call it deathcore). I love the head-nodding beat and the straight up chord changes too. “In the Trenches” is similar to start out with a straight a head chug. Gallagher puts together one of the best guitar performances of any album this year. “Devout Atrocity” again makes with the acrobatic riffs and scales. The fact that Beasley not only can keep up, but holds his own in the bass department is admirable. There is a neat stomp-groove part that recalls both OBITUARY and BOLT THROWER at one point, both key influences on the band. Gallagher opens “Revisionist Past” with a sick lead guitar solo before the preposterous tempo kicks in and the song becomes a gnarly blur. I can’t wait to see the YouTube videos popping up for bands trying to play this one! The final song is “The Blood Of Power” and is a fitting end to such a great album. The song has bits of everything that makes them great, including more stellar axe work. Underrated no more, DYING FETUS has ascended the mantle of the greats of death metal, whether the average fan knows it or not.
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes