Following their previous release three years ago with “Descent into Depravity”, Maryland’s Dying Fetus have been crushing audiences around the world with their own brand of technical death metal. Despite a number of line up changes, John Gallagher has held together a trio of musicians that have constantly, it could be argued, produced work that combines demanding intense metal with elaborate musicianship.
An example of this can be found on the absurdly brisk introduction to “Invert the Idols”. Verging from blast beat insanity to pummelling riffs and back within the space of a few bars, each track on “Reign Supreme” embraces the listener, shakes them beyond sensibility, before tossing them back into their own individual mosh pit.
“Subject to a Beating” bounds in with a plodding riff, which is brushed aside on occasion for blast beat fury. “Second Skin” is both furious in nature and angular in tempo and chord progression. “From Womb to Waste” opens with the spoken words, “It’s not my fault I’m pregnant, and I love drugs…who cares…fuck the baby, let it die”, and what a perfect sentiment to set the scene for another shattering display of tightly crafted metal ferocity. Although the weathered extreme metal lover will be hard pressed to shock, the passage still instils a sensation of uneasiness which brings another level to the experience. “Dissidence” carries on the tone of high velocity chord mauling, whilst “Revisionist Past” opens with a flourish of guitar before locking into that characteristic savaging.
Compared to previous releases, there could be said to be a lucidity to “Reign Supreme” that distinguishes it, and with that, a confidence in song writing and playing. Dying Fetus have always maintained their own path throughout their existence, and have essentially stuck at what they are good at and known for, crushingly fierce, but technically astounding metal. If a band is to attach itself to a style of playing, then that style has to display consistent and progressive quality, and this release goes some way to provide evidence of this. There is also sufficient evidence, however, of boundaries being pushed and risks being taken within the margins of that approach to playing.
The production of the album is crystal clear and allows the guitars, drums and growling vocals space to be heard with clarity rare in music such as this. “Reign Supreme” could be considered reasonably short in length in these days of CD length expectations, but the time taken to listen to the album as a whole is time spent being dazzled by technical skill, invigorated by grinding chord progressions and wondering how such a magnificent racket could be made possible by a three musicians.