A joyous day, we have a new Dying Fetus record to sink our sadistic teeth into. Their ninth studio record following their widely acclaimed Wrong One To F*ck With, continues the violent horror aesthetic of early slasher years, aptly titled Make Them Beg For Death!
The Baltimore trio have been serving up a slew of spectacular groovy death metal records, with Descend Into Depravity, Reign Supreme, and most recently, 2017’s Wrong One… Their chosen brand of crushing death metal focuses on catchy rhythmic patterns, interspersed with blazing sweep-picked solos, have been widely received by both the old-school death metal veterans as well as younger upstarts making their way from the “-core” genres looking for something more traditionally brutal. Their newest, Make Them Beg For Death continues in the same vein, and the tracks are immediately recognizable with classic Dying Fetus tropes.
Not ones to stand on ceremony, Make Them Beg… literally and figuratively kicks off with “Enlighten Through Agony” with a stompy chuggy riff before throwing us right into the fray with more traditional death metal tremolo-picked verse riffs. A straightforward kick-you-in-the-throat track is exactly what was needed to tell us exactly what we needed to expect with the entire runtime of this record. The track features some tasty dead stop chugs with some cheeky pinched harmonics to add that extra spice and liven up a frequently tasted meal.
Following the opener, we have the five single run starting with the first released single and arguably the best package on the record, “Compulsion For Cruelty”. This track is everything that makes modern Dying Fetus such a treat to enjoy: simple yet catchy grooves, chugs you cannot help but bang your head to, as well as high octane blast-beat sections to remind you that they can write technical arrangements as well. What really sets “Compulsion For Cruelty” apart is just how seamlessly all the instruments and dual vocals play around with different tempos, never letting the listener get comfortable in any particular corner. My only gripe is that this track was released so long before the rest of the record, that I (along with many of you) had already driven it into the ground in terms of repeated plays, thereby reducing some of the punch. This is more commentary on the release structure of the record, and how labels drip feed content to generate hype, etc., and not criticism of the track itself, which remains one of the few standout tracks on the record.
Yet another released single “Feast of Ashes” throws curveball-diminished runs with more pitched pinch harmonics. What I appreciate about this track, is the decision to include a “ramp-up” soundbite before hitting us with a high-tempo section. It’s something so minor, but will immediately catch the attention of people like me who appreciate the tiny production tricks that make modern metal so much more enjoyable than the stuffy old-school tired tropes. I am glad that Dying Fetus isn’t among those old geezers that totally eschew modern flairs while still maintaining their vaunted veteran status. “Feast of Ashes” also has one of the more intricate solos on the record, and that’s always a good thing!
This is where I begin to run into problems with the Dying Fetus method. Tracks like “Unbridled Fury” and “Undulating Carnage”, along with having overly similar titles, also settle into very comfortable and predictable formulae and stick within the borders of what “a Dying Fetus track” boils down to be. This isn’t to say that they aren’t powerful tracks, in fact, they are absolute bangers. But there is definitely a sense of “I feel like I have heard this before”, which harkens to a larger problem of the band not really taking major lateral steps and trying to explore new territory for almost three records now. While tracks like the almost grindcore “Throw Them in the Van” do change it up a wee bit, it still feels like it’s the same building blocks, just moved around. The building blocks of a Dying Fetus have been distilled to “chuggy groove/slam”, “blast beat tremolo picked riff” and “hyper shred sweep solo” thrown at each other in a different order with different tracks. Where this formula works well on a track like “Raised in Victory, Razed in Defeat”, but fails on a track like “When the Trend Ends”, which is clearly the weakest track on Make Them Beg For Death.
In their defense, the final two tracks, “Hero’s Grave” and closer “Subterfuge” try their best to explore new stylistic themes, but take just the briefest steps into new ground before diving back onto the deep trodden paths. I really hope that Dying Fetus makes riskier plays on future releases, having locked down a winning formula over the last four records including Make Them Beg…
Not to expose my own hypocrisy and backpedal on my previously stated qualms, I do have to just take a step back and stare in awe at how much of a powerful and well-meshed machine Dying Fetus has become over the last few releases. The fact that merely three people can pump out catchy yet brutal tracks with such solid consistency is truly worthy of all the praise heaped upon them. Guitarist and guttural vocalist John Gallagher continues to write riffs that would make the patch vest OSDM fan as well as a “core fanboy” like me grin in equal measure and have an equally amazing time in the inevitable pits that break out in their live shows. Bassist and mid-pitch growler Sean Beasley continues his trademark “whatever John can play on his guitar I can play on bass” magic, which while doing vocals is something truly special and rarely seen in extreme metal acts. Obviously, drummer Trey Williams is a straight-up demon behind the kit, and has the knack of switching up styles with mature ease, changing up the flavors of the riffs which would be staled quickly in the hands of a more blinkered drummer. Every time I think that Dying Fetus would really benefit from having a second guitarist tracks like “Compulsion For Cruelty” and “Undulating Carnage” show me the error of my ways. This trio kicks a*s!
Make Them Beg For Death is a tight package of no-nonsense groovy, slammy, techy death metal and continues a winning run of great Dying Fetus records. Having locked down a tremendous formula, I only hope that they venture out into riskier territory in future releases before audience fatigue sets in.
Songwriting & Lyrics8/10 Very GoodThe fact that merely three people can pump out catchy yet brutal tracks with such solid consistency is truly worthy of all the praise heaped upon them.
Overall Sound9/10 AmazingMake Them Beg For Death is a tight package of no-nonsense groovy, slammy, techy death metal and continues a winning run of great Dying Fetus records