If people thought 2009’s “Descend into Depravity” was a righteous return-to-form for DYING FETUS, wait till they get a load of 2012’s “Reign Supreme.” Taking the best parts of their early discography and meshing it with a kinetic grind that hears the band sounding not too far off from fellow Old Line Statesman MISERY INDEX, the gents in DYING FETUS have provided an album that delivers in spades for the surly Death Metal enthusiast.
Now, there are any number of reasons for listening to a band like DYING FETUS, but for this particular reviewer, the main motive is simply: “Reign Supreme” is a steam-burner. This is prime lifting/running music. Similar to how “Heirs to Thievery” was filled with an array of kick-ass songs, so is “Reign Supreme.” Pummeling you with its straight-forward, no-frills assault, the album’s potency is simply off-the-charts; there’s replay value; plenty of groove, attitude, and hooks; and this melding of Death and Grind hasn’t been done as accessibly since the aforementioned MISERY INDEX album.
With that said, a bit curious is how "Reign Supreme" starts; intro track “Invert the Idols” opens with some guitar-sweeping ala ORIGIN or DECREPIT BIRTH, and I have to admit, it throws you for a loop; positing the idea that maybe DYING FETUS are exchanging their heavy groove emphasis for a more technical lifestyle. However, it doesn’t take long for the groove to come trudging forward, and thankfully, the sweeps are used wisely; when they are employed, it sounds fitting, and not done in any manner of aural masturbation. Also interesting to note is that this may be the ‘weakest’ track on the album.
Things get simply overhauled when “Subjected to a Beating” sounds off, complete with its plodding beat-down grooves and some awesome guest vocals by none other than MISERY INDEX’s axeman/vocalist Mark Kloeppel. It’s got an old school vibe, plenty of cool structural changes, and John Gallagher’s subterranean roars emit more than enough nuance; in fact, his vocals, both delivery and clarity, have never sounded better. From this point onward, things do little in the way of slowing or losing any of its considerable momentum; the album carries headfirst with an even mixture of bouncing chugs and blazing-fast, tightly knit transitions that are forcefully punched-through via the production of Steve Wright, whose resume includes VAMPIRE MOOOSE’s hidden gem, “Serenade the Samurai.”
With no lapse in earshot, picking favorites is akin to picking straws. “Second Skin” rushes in with a myriad of fret-runs and then proceeds to balance the fine art of leveling breakdowns and mind-numbing riff-work; a thankfully recurring theme. “From Womb to Waste,” with its deplorable opening sample, might be the biggest ass-kicker of the album, giving “Subjected to a Beating” a run for its money, but even then, the thrashing “In the Trenches” comes strolling forth and ultimately steals the show.
And “Reign Supreme” is like that; just when you think you’re safe, DYING FETUS bring this old school, beg-all-you-want-I’m-still-gonna-fuck-you-up attitude into nearly every song, mixing the best of Death Metal with all that aural aggression you’d expect to find at a Hardcore show. It’s heavy and reckless and it sounds like its picking a fight with your speakers.
This is DYING FETUS having a fucking blast and you slapping yourself in the forehead. But don't worry. Even if you forgot how awesome these dudes are, rest assured knowing that “Reign Supreme” will jog your memory.
(Online July 23, 2012)