Fewer bands have stuck to their guns in the way that death metal legends Dying Fetus have. From the start they have been about creating memorable, groovy metal tracks that beg for repeated listening and almost six years after their last outing, they are (finally) back with a brand new LP, Make Them Beg For Death. For those which enjoy a brutal, almost slamming death metal with a heavy focus on catchy riffs, the news of Dying Fetus’ return is welcome news indeed and while the wait has been close to the previous gap between albums, it feels a bit longer as this is a space that few bands occupy and fewer still do it at this level.
One thing that often happens when there has been a sizable gap between records is that bands can be tempted to overstuff the album with all of the material they’ve developed in the interim and a bloated album is the end result. This is thankfully not the result with Make Them Beg For Death. Clocking in at around 37 minutes with 10 songs in total, it feels like this is a solid stat sheet for an album this groovy and chunky but unrelentingly brutal. And brutal it is, right from the start. “Enlighten Through Agony” has a classic descending riff that jolts that album to life and signals that all of the violence that will ensue is not only relentless but inevitable. The pace of the record never wavers as it lurches from one obscene vignette to another. The neck snapping gait of the album serves it well and while no track in particular could be seen as a ‘breather’ there are moments - such as the breakdown on “Feast of Ashes” - that give the listener a moment to inhale.
Dying Fetus have always been beyond technically competent with incredible musicianship and a pair of stalwart vocalists that make them one of most powerful bands in death metal. What makes them smarter than many other bands in this genre is just how well they pair their songwriting to their strengths. There are plenty of wildly technical moments - like the lilting runs on “Compulsion for Cruelty” - but these flashes of wizardry are kept in check and never dominate a song or composition to the point where the focus just becomes how many notes or beats per minute can be played. The focus is always on getting back to the groove and that right there is what will keep people coming back to this album. Yes there are moments when jaws hit pavement from just how flashy that cool synchronized squeal was, but jaws meet concrete far more often because of the brute force of these songs.
If there are weak points to this album they are the part and parcel failings of the genre as a whole. In terms of topics, lyrics, and themes there is nothing original here. Violence, terror, and horrific encounters are the usual fodder and while it’s far from original or inspired at this point, imagining this band doing anything other than this seems like a disservice to their identity. What makes Dying Fetus who they are in many respects is knowing how to deliver all of this vitriol even when the subject matter may feel like retread ground. When it comes right down to it, you may hear plenty of songs about war when listening to death metal, but only Dying Fetus could write “Raised in Victory, Razed in Defeat.”
Given that this band put out their first demo thirty years ago it's impressive that they are showing no signs of mellowing, slowing down, or dulling any edge of their attack. “Undulating Carnage” is one track that is particularly harsh but finds balance so well with the injected grooves and oscillates between stripped back grooves and pure frenetic chaos. There’s so much bounce and macabre fun to be had on this record that there’s hardly a moment that isn’t entertaining and just flat out fun. The closer pulls out some Bolt Thrower vibes with the opening riff but quickly pivots into that now-classic Dying Fetus style but with a little added atmosphere for good measure.
Bottom Line: This album hits like a rocket-powered bulldozer. Each song is a bespoke sledge hammer with grooves that may seem ornamental but they’re just there to facilitate blood loss. While the tried-and-true themes of violence and torture are ever-present and are a bit trite at this point, Dying Fetus isn’t a band that’s about to pivot to anything else and that’s just fine. From the iconic riffs and signature bounce to the captivating cover art, Make Them Beg For Death is another notch on the knife handle of Dying Fetus, and a cut above the rest.