Dying Fetus are a rarity: they’ve simultaneously held onto their death metal cred¸ charted in the top 200 of the Billboard charts and established a foothold among the newer¸ younger crop of bands coming out from the U.S. Astonishing when you consider how uncompromising they have been over the years¸ but perhaps that’s the reason for their success. People are drawn in by their strong imagery¸ their unwillingness to conform or make their sound more palatable. Dying Fetus are an old-school death metal band who have embraced the new-school. They don’t shy away from modern production or touring with bands that aren’t exclusively death metal. In short¸ they’ve got guts¸ and with track titles such as ‘From Womb to Waste’ and ‘Dead Whores Loves to Fuck’¸ ‘Reign Supreme’¸ Dying Fetus’ 7th album (their fifth on Relapse Records) doesn’t seem to be running low on it anytime soon.
The most notable thing about ‘Reign Supreme’ is how concise it is. In contrast to previous albums¸ it boasts a certain fluidity; a musical consistency that ties all the songs together into a cohesive whole. It may not be full of singles per se¸ but it most definitely ranks as one of Dying Fetus’ stronger works.
Wasting no time whatsoever¸ Dying Fetus get right down to business with stunning opener ‘Invert the Idols’ If you’re at all familiar with the band’s more recent sound then the aforementioned track should come as no surprise. Full of mesmerising shred¸ crunchy low-end and guttural grunts and rasps¸ it’s all over within a couple of minutes and serves as a satisfying starter to the oncoming barrage of riffs that is ‘Subjected to a Beating’.
‘Reign Supreme’ is a short affair¸ and rightly so. Such a relentless album needs to be in order to maintain its effect. What little respite there is comes in the form of ‘Revisionist Past’ which features a short but sweet solo intro. The majority of it however¸ is pretty straight-forward stuff – even simple at times. The decision to strip things down was no doubt conscious¸ and although this produces some of the album’s finest moments¸ it’s also responsible for some of its weaker ones too. It’s not so much that parts of ‘Reign Supreme’ are boring¸ its more that some of the songs are simply not as good as others. Now¸ this may seem like an obvious thing to say¸ but combine it with the lack of true singles and you have an album that is solid and strong but not really mind-blowing.
Let there be no mistake: Dying Fetus are a great band. Their back catalogue is filled with songs that quite frankly put a lot of death metal bands to shame. Unfortunately¸ this album is lacking those songs. ‘Reign Supreme’ is a good album; it just isn’t quite the proclamation that it could have been.