“Subjected to a Beating”
This, the seventh full-length from Maryland’s Dying Fetus, has the distinction of being the death-metal outfit’s first album to have the same lineup as its predecessor since its debut, Purification Through Violence, was released in 1996. Despite the many member shifts, however, Dying Fetus’ style hasn’t changed much. The band’s signature mixture of technicality, speed, and groove has spawned countless imitators and definitely helped — for better or worse — the invention of metalcore.
First things first: if you’re unable to stomach unintelligible lyrics due to guttural vocals, you might as well skip to the next review. Unlike many death metal-bands, though — and despite its name — Dying Fetus doesn’t spew out stereotypical, horror-themed lyrics. Instead, since Killing on Adrenaline in 1998, the band has favored political themes, generally focusing on government oppression, the tragedies of war, and so on. Naysayers wonder why death-metal bands bother to have any message whatsoever, but fans understand that the lyrics are personal — a means of venting via percussive vocals.
Dying Fetus’ love of hip hop has not gone undocumented, and it shows in the band’s many slow, groovy riffs. This type of riff has been a hallmark of both East Coast death metal and hardcore, two scenes that Dying Fetus straddles with ease. The rest of the time, the group is frantically speed-picking and blast-beating at inhuman tempos, but still managing to present riffs that are both memorable and catchy.
If anything, Reign Supreme could be accused of sounding too perfect — the guitar, bass, and drums played so fast and precise that you can’t help but wonder if, like Kraftwerk, Dying Fetus sent robot counterparts into the studio to save time. The song arrangements on Reign Supreme aren’t as fluid as some past albums (most notably on 2009 classic Destroy the Opposition), but the Dying Fetus of today is more a Frankenstein’s Monster of riffs, heaving listeners into the pond like daisies.