Dead But Dreaming: Dying Fetus

Posted April 14, 2011 in

This week’s metal blog features a review rundown of several recently re-issued Dying Fetus releases as well as a guide to all the metal happenings on this Record Store Day weekend.

On Friday April 15, Protest the Hero bring their brand of progressive metal to the Avalon. Southern metalcore favorites Maylene and the Sons of Disaster as well as Tesseract and locals Dethrone the Sovereign open the show.  Doors open at 6:30 and tickets are $13.

Saturday April 16 is Record Store Day, and a number of local record stores are having metal-related events to celebrate. Limited vinyl releases from Deftones, Mastodon, Ozzy Osbourne, Fucked Up, Neurosis and more will be available at fine independent record stores around the state. Raunch Records will have a limited amount of re-issues from Revelation Records, including releases by Youth of Today and Quicksand. Raunch will also be hosting a free show featuring Eagle Twin , The Mooks and Discoid A from 6-9 p.m. The Ogden location of Graywhale will be hosting SLUG’s annual RSD metal showcase, featuring Oldtimer, Reviver, Beyond This Flesh, Loom and Breaux. The show is free and takes place from 7 p.m. to midnight. And finally, no Record Store Day trip would be complete without a stop by the Heavy Metal Shop. The shop will have a number of exclusive releases, so stop by and say hi. 

Also on Saturday, Jesust, Minerva and Pretty Worms will perform at Burt’s TIki Lounge. $5 gets you in the door (as long as you’re 21 or over) and music begins around 9:30.

Unfortunately, metal legends Nevermore have canceled their North American tour, set to hit Club Vegas on Saturday the 16. However, locals ToxicDose, Means Nothing and Never Before (originally slated to open for Nevermore) will still be playing, so come out and support. Doors open at 8:00, tickets are listed at $15 day-of, but that may change given Nevermore’s cancellation.

On Tuesday April 19, thrashers Death Angel play at Club Vegas. Opening the show are The Book, Truce and Muckraker. Tickets are $12 in advance and $17 at the door. Doors open at 8:00, and as always, Club Vegas is a 21+ venue.

And finally, on Wednesday April 20, the Metaljuana hits Salt Lake with locals A Balance of Power, Riksha, Incidious, Live In Prequil, Unthinkable Thoughts, and Ravings Of A Madman. The show goes down at Club Vegas. Doors open at 8:00 and $5 gets you in.
In the world of death/grindcore, Dying Fetus has long stood out. A band whose career has spanned over 15 years and god knows how many busted ear drums, these are guys who have a message, who aren’t just waxing violent for the ego trip or to piss off Grandma, and it shines through their sound. Where others are satisfied with blast-beats and speed picking to call themselves death metal, Dying Fetus gives us groove and doom, respect to song structure, evolution in their sound, and the reminder that destruction is in and of itself creation. Hailing from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, the band has had a convoluted history with its members (their Wikipedia page even provides a graph to help keep track of them all), but in spite of that, they’ve maintained a consistent presence in the metal underground since 1991. 1996 saw the release of their first album Purification Through Violence, and sent them a four-year touring run. Their live shows drew the fans in, and got them signed to Morbid Records for a one-album deal. Picked up by Relapse Records in 2000, they released Destroy The Opposition, which took the band to a whole new level: it earned a spot on Decibel’s Top 100 Albums of the Decade and is still influencing the sound of death metal today. And now Relapse has answered the prayers of the darkest hearts by re-releasing the first four Dying Fetus albums with better sound and even some never-before-heard tracks. Who said the devil doesn’t care about his minions?

Infatuation With Malevolence, first released in 1995 on the now-defunct label Wild Rags Records, is a compilation, including the demo Bathe in Entrails. This album has the darkest crunch of the re-issues, heavy with punching drums and thickly distorted shredding, and a good smattering of samples from various disturbing sources to go with the band’s gory premise. Judging by the vocals on this album, I wouldn’t be shocked if John Gallagher (the band’s only consistent member) came out tomorrow as some resurrected hellhound—he growls in a depth that rattles your bones. Production, while improved, still leaves something to be desired—the impressive guitar, including some fantastic solos, get a little washed away in the blackness of the bass and drums. If someone thinks all death metal is boring or uncreative, this is the album that will make them think twice. Included on this re-release are live cuts of “Intentional Manslaughter,” “Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog” and “Skull Fucked,” as well as some early demo versions of “Nocturnal Crucifixion” and “Purged Of My Worldly Being.”

Next we have Purification Through Violence, released on Pulverized Records (now out of business) in 1996. Production value is much better here; the drums in particular are sharp and powerful, which blend nicely with Gallagher’s pig squeals and the nervous shredding of Brian Latta’s guitar. Opener “Blunt Force Trauma” is a powerhouse track with layered vocals—it is the stand-out song and a showcase of what Dying Fetus has inspired in death metal.  The stutters of “Permanently Disfigured” are jarring and hard to get out of your mind. “Nothing Left To Pray For” begins in a groove that almost belies the blast beats that follow; watch out for the face-melting solo over double-bass that you’ll replay at least three times before moving on. This re-release also features a great cover of Napalm Death’s “Scum (Fuck The Weak),” and live versions of “Beaten into Submission” and “Raped On The Altar.”

Dying Fetus upped the ante of their political messages on 1998’s Killing On Adrenaline, originally an eight-track album stuffed with malice for the parasites of the planet, and now re-released with live cuts of “Fornication Terrorists” and “Judgment Day.” The former song is innovative in its message- the sexually irresponsible as mass murderers- and is another footnote on the growing list of reasons Dying Fetus is a unique act.  This album also stands out for the added technical aspects, particularly in the guitar work. It also marks the major career beginning of legendary drummer Kevin Talley (who was offered the gig after opening for Dying Fetus in ’97), and his technical prowess sharpened the already big stick this band carried. “Procreate the Malformed” has a dark breakdown, a sweeping solo and vocals that sound more wraith than human. “Kill Your Mother/Rape Your Dog,” a classic grind track, is a smirking middle finger to the record industry, naming names and daring them to challenge. The opening of “Absolute Defiance” hooks you right away with its heavily distorted sludge and slower (but no less brutal) guitar work. “Intentional Manslaughter” has psychotic guitar licks that run the gauntlet with Talley’s blast-beats in a race to the surprisingly groovy breakdown, such a rare song structure, unforgettable in its bravery. 

Grotesque Impalement from 2000 ironically marks the last time Talley drummed for Dying Fetus. It was a short EP to begin with, and has now been re-released here with three previously unheard tracks: “Dumpster Love,” which is brand-new, vulgar and damn hilarious (and it’s so nice to see a death metal band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously 24/7); “Reduced to Slavery,” recorded in 2000 but heretofore unreleased; and a live 1999 cut of “Purged Of My Worldly Being.” “Final Scream,” a 59-second spoken interlude between a 26-year-old manchild and his father, is a riotous opening to joke song number two, “Hail Mighty North/Forest Trolls of Satan (Anno Clitoris 666),” that- aside from the devilish vocals- sounds like a perfect ‘80s hair band single. The album’s title track takes us to classic death metal brutality, not as technically crafty as “Killing On Adrenaline,” but nor is it lacking in evolution. This album also has two solid covers: Baphomet’s “Streaks of Blood” and Next Step Up’s “Bringing Back The Glory.” Between the joke songs and the covers, you’re realistically getting only 3 new tracks here, but their execution is as finely-tuned as ever and worth the listen.

Hardcore fans of the band will probably see these re-releases as worth the money for the live cuts. If you’ve been reluctant to give the underground death metal/grindcore a try, or if you’re just a jaded metalhead wondering where you can find creativity to go with your chaos, Dying Fetus will slaughter your doubts, and now’s the best time to catch up on their catalogue.