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CD Review: Dying Fetus – War of Attrition

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dyingfetus warofattritionWhen you review the band responsible for your employer's theme song, your hands are a little tied. The opening riffs of "Praise the Lord (Opium of the Masses)," from Dying Fetus' Destroy the Opposition, begin many a Metal Injection program. However, I'm pleased to report that I don't have to compromise what little journalistic integrity I have left. War of Attrition is a fine death metal album and a great addition to Dying Fetus' legacy.

I don't understand those who say that the band has fallen off, or that some of its albums are so much better than others. From its second album onwards, the band's style hasn't changed much: an efficient, technical, and brutal mix of death metal, hardcore, and grindcore (actually, I've never understood the latter tag, as there's not much grindcore about DF, other than sheer aggression. Its songs are just too long for grindcore. Grind is about, "Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am." Dying Fetus is about, "Let me show you this riff…and this one…and this one…wait, come back, or I'll pummel you").

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Here's a brief history of Dying Fetus' full-lengths:

Infatuation with Malevolence (1995) – Primitive but crushing
Purification through Violence (1996) – Dying Fetus becomes awesome
Killing on Adrenaline (1998) – Great material, sounds like shit
Destroy the Opposition (2000) – Awesome
Stop at Nothing (2003) – Great material, sounds like shit
War of Attrition (2007) – Continue reading

If anything has changed through the years, it's the band's "hardcore" aspect. In its early days, the band was more prone to half-speed breakdowns (but always with double bass running throughout). That's really the only reason why the intro to a show called METAL Injection could show footage of hardcore kids windmilling and acting like idiots. After Destroy the Opposition, Dying Fetus mostly dropped the half-speed parts, which I suspect are what people miss. Well, get over it. You'll hear these new songs out, bang your head to them, and be completely unable to tell them apart from the old ones.

Haters might say that Dying Fetus hasn't progressed, or that its song titles are still lame, or that this album's title still has three words with a preposition in the middle. The band is guilty on all counts – and it has every right to be. The sound of John Gallagher and supporting cast (seriously, what's up with that? DF has churned out enough ex-members to form an entire another band, Misery Index) is the blueprint for a lot of heavy music now. The entire "genre" of deathcore wouldn't exist were it not for Dying Fetus.

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All the classic DF ingredients are here – death growls, machine gun kicks, clattering snares, righteous riffs with a touch of Necrophagist in the pick sweeps. Duane Timlin (Divine Empire, Forest of Impaled) occupies the Spinal Tap-esque drummer's throne, and he turns in a suitably speedy performance. The rest of the band is just as tight and precise as it was on Stop at Nothing.

The production is much better, though; this is the best-sounding DF album to date. You can hear the bass now, and the mix is balanced and crisp. The songs are pretty even qualitywise, though "Fate of the Condemned" stands out by speeding up into crazy thrash that sounds like the Running of the Bulls, with the bulls hepped up on speed and goring fools all over the place.

In other words, it's killing business as usual for Dying Fetus. In blind listening tests with earlier material, these songs would more than hold their own.


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Dying Fetus on MySpace
Relapse Records

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