Monday, June 04, 2012

Dying Fetus: Reign Supreme (2012)

Slamming Good Time . . . Almost

Slam death has not been a microgenre that I've explored a lot. It gets derided for being the dumbest kind of death metal. Admittedly, I prefer smarter music, but dumb shit is fun sometimes.

Dying Fetus is credited as one of the most important influences in the formation of the microgenre. Reign Supreme is my first experience with the band, but I have to say I'm very impressed. Sure, they follow all the tropes of the slam they helped create, but with a style and fervor that's hard to match.

If you haven't heard slam before, it's similar in many ways to technical death and deathgrind, though dumbed-down quite a bit. It's fast and brutal with machinegun rhythms. The vocals are mostly guttural death growls, but there are also the occasional screams and pig squeals. Leads tend to be brief, seemingly pointless solos. Key to the genre are also the slams, brutal breakdowns meant for moshing.

Dying Fetus's Reign Supreme fits all of those genre tropes to a T. Which is no surprise, since they have the reputation of establishing it. The only way they differ from the typical, apparently, is that their lyrics are political rather than gore-oriented. So, they're exactly typical. But you don't inspire imitators if you suck, and DF clearly do not. These songs are a great time.

One problem with slam is that a lot of it is done by bands without drummers, so they use programmed drums that sound like shit. Thankfully, DF has a drummer. Sadly, they still managed to make the drums sound like shit. They are played with technical precision at a wild pace, but they still sound like they're played by a Casio keyboard. This is extremely distracting for the first half of the album, and frankly it's tough to get past. Maybe 20+ years of playing death metal destroyed their hearing, and this is how all drums sound to them?

The Verdict: 3 out of 5

It's easy to see why Dying Fetus have been copied by so many. These guys can play, and they can write a song that's both brutal and catchy. But for the love of afterbirth, what the hell is wrong with the drum sound? That kills it for me.

Preorder/Buy Reign Supreme (The album releases June 19.)

1 comment:

  1. Just read your review. I dont know what the hell is everyones problem with the drum sound, its freaking tight, round and meaty, and not bland, the snare doesnt sound like trash can, kicks are audible, cymbal dynamics are in place, whats there not to like? And no it doesnt sound like programmed drums, if you think it is, then go check out Retch or Vulvectomy or any other uber-underground slam with programmed drums, youll get the difference instantly.