Written By: John Rabb
Label: Relapse – Rating:
Released September 15th by Relapse Records, Dying Fetus’s latest full-length offering Descend into Depravity is an immaculately polished piece of vicious death metal. Despite a series of lineup changes over the years, guitarist/vocalist John Gallagher and company have managed to coalesce into an extremely tight knit threesome on the new record, weaving through complex progressions, sleek tempo shifts, and blasts of staggering capacity.
Gallagher leads the way on the album with blistering ambidextrous riffs that, at times, seem to almost defy the laws of physics. Sean Beasley displays wizardry of his own on bass, particularly on “At What Expense,” which opens with a menacing rolling bass line. The drum work on the album is extremely quick and precise, demonstrating a high level of technical expertise.
The structure and organization of the songs on Depravity play out well with brutal sound and good theme variation. “Shepherd’s Commandment,” which may very well be the strongest track on the record, contains a series of blazing riffs, a mid-paced tempo, and an impressive display of Gallagher’s inhuman dexterity.
The group as a whole is solid, but for all intents and purposes, Dying Fetus is Gallagher’s baby. His vocals range from ultra-low, unintelligible death growls a la Cannibal Corpse, to abrasive upper-throat screams. The arrangement of the music allows for the vocals and guitars to match up perfectly to carry the melody. The orchestration and technique used on Depravity are truly remarkable, as it convincingly outclasses the vast majority of what passes for modern death metal.
While some critics might argue there may not be anything particularly groundbreaking about the new album, maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, maybe that’s the point. Gallagher and company do not try and reinvent the wheel with their latest offering. The album does, however, contain enough variety and nuance to keep things interesting over the course of the entire record. Rather than attempt, like so many bands, to take things to strange new places and reinvent themselves as artists, Dying Fetus has reached a level of rock-solid consistency on par with the biggest icons in death metal.
Descend into Depravity is a record that fans know will be free of gimmicks, trends, and fads – and, in this critic’s mind, there’s a lot to be said for that.
Dying Fetus should be hailed as a band for its ability to continue releasing album after album, despite line-up changes and the fact that they’ve been around just about as long as anyone in the business. Dying Fetus refuses to sell out or succumb to mediocrity, and Descend into Depravity fits perfectly into their discography, cementing another classic work of hardcore death metal for the ages.