Anti-abortion extremists: settle down. Itâ€™s just a name. Put your picket signs away and leave your petrol bombs at home with the rest of your â€˜pro-lifeâ€™ explosives. Itâ€™s just a name. And this is something worth bearing in mind when listening to Dying Fetus. Whilst the puerile moniker and its erroneous spelling evoke visions of a juvenile act complete with crudely constructed themes, this death metal trio actually consists of a musically sophisticated and socially aware group of gentlemen, as existing fans will know.
Last yearâ€™s History Repeats was all good fun, but it was no replacement for a full length, the likes of which we havenâ€™t seen since Descend into Depravity in 2009. That album marked not so much a turning point in the bandâ€™s career, but a bend in the road as the more technical elements of their music were brought to the forefront of their sound. This is a theme that they have capitalised upon on Reign Supreme, which is remarkable for being far and away the most technical album they have ever recorded.
To leave behind the slam elements and breakdowns that so characterised their sound would certainly have been a mistake and, whilst theyâ€™re perhaps not as catchy as on previous releases, they are still here, sharing centre stage with the technical passages. Whether this is a natural evolution or a consequence of the recent rise in popularity of technical death metal is a moot point; whatâ€™s important is that it infuses the album with more dynamics than any that preceded it.
The first song, â€˜Invert the Idolsâ€™, features a riff so slow that it probably had to repeat fourth grade at least twice. Underpinned by the lightning fast feet of drummer Trey Williams, it creates a wonderful contrast of pulverising speed and crushing weight that few other bands could hope to achieve. Meanwhile, â€˜Revisionist Pastâ€™ features some lead guitar parts so technical that Dying Fetus seem to be stepping out of their comfort zone. Itâ€™s their ability to combine these technical passages with actual songwriting that makes this record so interesting.
But they donâ€™t always get it right. Sometimes the contrast between the technical elements and palm muted chugging is so vast that it sounds as if theyâ€™ve been forced together like the incorrect pieces of a jigsaw. On the vocal front, John Gallagherâ€™s singing is low enough to match the grinding guitars, but it renders his lyrics completely indecipherable. Follow along with the lyric booklet and it quickly becomes apparent that entire syllables are clipped from words and enunciation is all but abandoned, which is inexcusably lazy.
Complaints aside, itâ€™s a strong record, albeit not a stunning one. It has the ability to impress but not to engage. What it does possess is a level of intelligence unparalleled by any of their other work. This is most evident on the notably self-aware â€˜From Womb to Wasteâ€™, which tackles those anti-abortion extremists head on, presenting the opposing argument with startlingly vivid paradigms and convincing tenacity. Say what you will about Dying Fetus; they might have a silly name, but theyâ€™re not idiots.