Now a lean, muscular three-piece, Dying Fetus has had plenty of time to settle in to their new dynamic. Their strong, productive collaboration has yielded one of their best records, a refinement of their sound and conceptual vision. Reign Supreme is just as aggressive and hook-laden as fans have come to expect, executed with a well-oiled and finely-tuned precision.
This is not an example of truly technical death metal – Reign Supreme has far more about guts than brains -- but I don't want to dismiss the mastery that every band member has over their instruments. There is certainly complexity on the song-writing, and it is executed brilliantly, especially John Gallagher's guitar playing, which includes some scorching solos.
But the core of their sound is still the intensity, the feeling, the aggression of the music, and this really comes across on Reign Supreme. The record is like an immensely talented MMA fighter, someone who has a great deal of technical skill, but their defining feature is still their indomitable will and heart in the ring.
One of the real strengths of Dying Fetus is how unapologetically catchy their music is. They focus on creating memorable, engaging song structures that get the listener on board from the first riff, with deeply satisfying progressions that make it impossible not to bang your head. On Reign Supreme, they have injected some light melodic elements into the mix -- not so much to dilute the brutality, but just enough to make the songs even more infectious. The grinding power of “Subjected to a Beating” and the crushing “From Womb To Waste” are enhanced by gripping melody lines.
Reign Supreme balances being a mature and sophisticated refinement of the band's sound without coming across as too polished or distant. Dying Fetus still provide their listeners with a physical, deeply cathartic release, and remain a fulfilling example of top-notch American death metal. Dying Fetus are at the top of their game with this record, which is sure to thrill old fans and gain them even more new ones.
(released June 19, 2012 on Relapse Records)