Dying Fetus’ latest is more like the right one to f*ck with.
In the context of metal, the term ‘extreme’ has become somewhat ambiguous as over the course of several decades a myriad of bands have stretched and challenged the boundaries and notions of extremity within music. Whilst its hard to precisely characterise what makes a band extreme, metal acts have tended to identify themselves as extreme through speed, technicality and/or guttural brutality. For the best part of three decades Dying Fetus have managed to combine all three into a potent sonic assault that has beguiled and enthralled death metal fans old and new, and on latest opus Wrong One To Fuck With the band continue to test death metal’s limits along with the listener’s endurance.
Musically the band stick to the same formula that they’ve cultivated over their preceding 7 albums, but its much more refined. Their piecing together of the best parts of death metal, thrash, hardcore and even deathcore certainly provides an adrenaline fuelled listen, especially when the hardcore style slams meet crushingly break neck tempos. Rather than resorting to the banal trudge that breakdowns have become, they instil an element of energy and dynamism, usually through the blistering drums of Trey Williams to keep the brute slabs of down-tuned guitar chugs lean and dense. However, you shouldn’t confuse the band’s unwavering knack to lean on the trappings of hardcore and deathcore as a sign that the three-piece are bereft of musical ideas.
Guitarists and mastermind John Gallagher weaves dizzying fret board wizardry between his mean crunches and thrashy stabs that will surely satisfy keen guitar nerds (just listen to the first thirty seconds or so of album opener “Fixated On Devastation” to get a proper brain melting)- his whirling licks and mind-boggling sweeps add colour to the monotonous belligerence of Dying Fetus’ white hot death metal. When he chooses to venture further up the guitar neck into lead guitar territory, he demonstrates a keen knowledge of metal’s rich heritage as he references guitar solos employed by Slayer and Morbid Angel in the tracks “Die With Integrity” and “Revelling In The Abyss” respectively.
Bassist Sean Beasley is no slouch either, as he frequently joins in with his own twisting runs that compliments Gallagher’s guitar gymnastics whilst also providing the thunderous groove that contributes to the band’s monstrously thick sound (this is an album best listened to through over-ear headphones for a truly bass heavy bludgeon). When all three musicians lock into a vicious grindcore style flurry of tremolo picking and blast beats at a moments notice it propels the songs in an exhilarating heartbeat- the way that each riff and part never outstays its welcome keeps the listener guessing and prevents any repetitive lulls in the album. Further fuelling the overwhelming aggression is the vocal trade offs between Gallagher and Beasley, as guttural belches and lacerating screams spit bile and venom at a suitably nasty pace.
On paper this should make for a thoroughly satisfying album of groove-laden technical death metal, and in truth each individual riff and song isn’t bad at all- the band throw a wealth of ideas, styles and time signatures into one song in a way that is distinctly theirs. Unfortunately problems arise when they take this approach and apply it to every song on the album. Sure, the strength and quality of their particular formula carries Wrong One To Fuck With for the most part, and if you listen closely enough there will be plenty to enjoy, but being presented with the same song over ten tracks for fifty minutes is tiring. In an effort to push their own sound and musicianship to the extreme they’ve also pushed the listener’s endurance and attention to the absolute limit. If they spread their ideas over the course of several tracks (e.g. one track is written with more hardcore riffs, another is full of thrashy guitars and d-beats, whilst another is a full-blown technical explosion), rather than throw them all into one then they can provide a greater sense of variety to their songwriting without losing their identity and the impact of those particular elements. All in all, Wrong One To Fuck With gets an A for effort, but a little more work on the execution is needed.
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