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On War of Attrition, death-grind gurus Dying Fetus offer up more of the same, but the quality hasn't changed. The guys in Fetus still know how to make some fairly kick ass death-grind, despite what nay-sayers might say.
The riffs are pummeling as expected, super-fast grind riffs mixed in with chugga-chugga death metal riffing. They have a nice grit and rawness to them bringing an overall rich and deep sound to the table. The unfortunate thing is that most of the riffs aren't very memorable, which is something death metal in particular needs. It's not that they're clusterfucked and constantly changing like many contemporary death metal acts; it's that they just don't bring enough catchiness, groove, or shear technicality to be memorable. But they're not bad in the last bit, they just don't stick in the end, save for the track "Insidious Repression", which has some very nice, rather unforgettable riffs throughout.
The bass guitar does a very nice job filling in the low end. It's fairly audible throughout and even pokes its ugly head out to take center-stage a few times, like in "Insidious Repression" and "Unadulterated Hatred". However, overall, it just fills in the sub-noise and really does nothing exceptional.
The drumming owns on this album. It's fast, fucking relentless, and fairly technical at times. Though the constant blast-beats can grow tiresome, the awesome fills and the overall pummeling driving force of them makes them probably the best part of the album.
And, notwithstanding, is the decent vocal performance, which mostly consists of septic gurgles usual for the genre, getting fairly boring after a while. However, the other, more high-pitched growls that are also used are much better, mainly because there's much more overall variety to them in that they change pitch and often carry some melody whereas the gurgles are fairly monotone, but they also add a small, but decent variety to the album. Having it littered with nothing but gurgles would undoubtably make it more of a boring listen.
So, all-in-all, a worthy release that goes by extremely underrated. Contrary to what the band's harshest critics might say, this is not Fetus selling out. This is Fetus continuing to kick ass with some top-notch death-grind, despite its minor flaws (it lacks memorability in many areas and can get mildly boring at times).
Many people accuse Dying Fetus of wiggerdom. Indeed, with their rap inspired vocals, the thick groove in the music, the "chug-a-lug-a-chug chug" of the guitars, it reeks of rap. However, that is not why I gave it the low score. This is why:
Another thing it shares with rap is the complete banality and processed blandness that permeates modern hip-hop. See, hip-hop was cool back in the days of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Afrika Bambaata. But nowadays it's saturated with 2 bit posers with uninspired beats and monotone raps and rhymes that desensitize your ears and lower your IQ. War of Attrition (and Dying Fetus' modern stuff by extension) shares this inane quality. It's done completely by the book, it's processed to no end, and each song blends into each other. There's none of the ingenuity that marks other more integral Death Metal acts such as Suffocation, Cryptopsy, Demilich, Death, Immolation, or Incantation; here, every song is the same garbage, with the same "tech" riffs and the same chugalugachug chug on the guitars. Writing a review longer than 2 paragraphs for this turd is impossible, because there's nothing here to review. It's sound, sure. It's noise, sure. But this is the most musically and artistically empty death metal album I've ever heard. Sure, you might headbang here and there, but there are WAY more talented and creative bands that will get you headbanging harder and faster, so why even bother with this piece of shit?
The sound that Dying Fetus have fashioned over the years is inimitable and very sought after these days. The almost redneck groove ‘n’ grunt coated with lavish sweep picking and clinical squeals are Dying Fetus necessities and you will be pleased to hear all are present and correct in War of Attrition, their 2007 Relapse release. This is more of a political diatribe as opposed to the gory fun of older days, and in this respect Dying Fetus have grown stronger. The change in stance has been noticeably reflected in the music which seems a little more reserved and …sensible? Difficult to imagine granted, but there are less over the top antics - replaced by more tiresome songs.
The ingredients are there, but the magic and excitement that were once on Killing on Adrenaline (1998) and Destroy the Opposition (2000) seem lost. We all remember “Kill Your Mother/Rape Your Dog” and “Pissing in the Mainstream” et al, tunes which seem so long ago now, but on this latest platter even after a few listens the songs are still rather hard to differentiate - with maybe the exception of the last song “Obsolete Deterrence.” Another problem that this album is faltered by is the classic ‘lets make the first couple of songs better than the rest’ syndrome which is not something you would expect from a death metal band that are currently at the head of the herd.
This latest album is maybe part of their personal war against the attrition in quality of Dying Fetus output. This just feels like a time of deflated creative inspiration, they have not lost the skill to make this music by any means, the production is top notch and the songs are tight and pacy as always. Let’s hope after this brief plateau the ascent will continue. War of Attritionis good but not great, it is Dying Fetus doing what they do best and it is listenable but not up to previous standards set by themselves.
"There's a common talking-point that all Dying Fetus fans can agree with, and it's that “Stop At Nothing” was one of the worst albums released in 2003 and effectively being one of the biggest let downs in the past decade, as that being the follow up to the absolutely stunning “Destroy The Opposition” that was released in 2000. I myself have just pretended that “Stop At Nothing” never existed and I'm sure many other fans have done the same, so basically to me it's been seven years without a Dying Fetus record, and finally this past March they have released “War Of Attrition”. I should also note that the only original member in the band is long-standing guitarist/vocalist John Gallagher and he apparently wrote six of the eight tracks entirely himself and it really shows.
It seems to me that Dying Fetus have really turned up the “technical” notch on their guitars because almost every other riff is filled with “weedily weedily weedily wooooooo!!!” (yes, that's what a riff sounds like). They've also effectively took lots of lessons from brutal death metal bands as you can tell on a few songs that they just throw structure out the window and go for ball-crushing death metal. This is also the first album without long-time vocalist Vince Matthews (ex-Sadistic Torment, ex-Covenance, Criminal Element) who was replaced by bassist/vocalist Sean Beasley (Garden Of Shadows, ex-Sadistic Torment). Frankly, I think the man should change his name to Beastly, because he is a monster on the bass, and his vocals actually resemble Vince's quite a bit, but I seem to be leaning towards Sean's vocals more on the like-ability factor. He seems to put out more of a torturous scream than Vince could, and for the lyrical and musical content of Dying Fetus that is very important. There's also the matter of Mr. Duane Timlin (ex-Krieg, ex-Broken Hope, ex-Judas Iscariot) on drums. Sure, he's no Kevin Talley (ex-Dying Fetus, ex-Decrepit Birth, ex-Misery Index), but Duane certainly holds up his end on the music spectrum, working very well with what the rest of the gang has given him. There also isn't much to be said about Mike Kimball (Disordered, ex-Malignant Inception), also on guitar. He doesn't really do much other than emphasize what riffs are being played by Gallagher.
The music is generally interesting and blows that shitheap called “Stop At Nothing” completely out of the water, almost completely re-solidifying my confidence in Dying Fetus to keep on going with their 16 year career. As I mentioned before, the riffs are certainly more technical than I remember and they're even very catchy with little bits of groove thrown in for good measure. There's also the occasional hardcore riff thrown in there to slow down the music just a tad, but there's no breakdowns in sight! The musicianship is very professional, making it look as if the band has been fine-tuning these songs for four years (although I'm sure they have).
Sometimes it's a very good thing to only have one remaining original band member, because it can give them a certain incentive to try and out-do their previous material. Sometimes they do it, and sometimes they don't, but with how “Stop At Nothing” turned out, Gallagher would have to be completely brain dead to not out-do “Stop At Nothing”. This is a very good album from a very good band who hopefully will start all over again and climb their way back to the top of the death metal mountain."
Originally written for Metal Stomp.com
Dying Fetus' 2003 release of Stop At Nothing was an above average album. It was heavy, fast, moderately technical, and musical with its groovy rhythms. So given this many people were very excited for the release of War of Attrition, but at the same time, I was not expecting the fastest most brutal death metal. What we got was another Stop At Nothing and some may argue that this is simply an over statement.
War of Attrition is close to and possibly on the same level as Stop At Nothing, but definitely not more extreme in any way. War of Attrition has its moments. It is classic Dying Fetus as described above. In this release, there is no significant progression and that is disappointing in my eyes especially since they've had 4 years to prepare. Don't get me wrong this album is aggressive and has its moments, but Dying Fetus is simply not progressing, though one could argue that they are tighter and more musical especially since 1995, but very little since 2003.
One aspect that this album could improve is the drumming. Duane Timlin is an improving drummer but his style is predictable and dull at times. The double bass is fast, though many metal drummers could match this speed. There will be a fast part, like around 200 bpm, that may last for 30 seconds with Mr. Timlin just blast beating the whole time, which by the way is the climax. He may throw in a drum filll here and there, but then the music slows down and gets some what groovy. During the groovy parts he could provide more double bass patterns to enhance and follow the guitars, but he just usually rolls the double bass, sometimes fast other times like at 120 bmp. He could also throw in gravity blast beats to enhance the sound. He sounds pretty polished as he has his moments, but its no wonder drummers like John Longstreth can tour with this band after practicing for only a couple weeks.
The overall sound is still heavy, fast, and groovy like albums of the past. The vocals are still classic Dying Fetus and the guitars are catchy, but there is still little-to-no element of impovement since 2003. I must rank this album not just on past Dying Fetus works, but with all metal works. As far as the newer and more extreme metal out there, Dying Fetus is falling back in terms of aggressiveness, speed, and overall ferociousness. They will always have a hand in extreme metal but for now they are par.
A full sixteen years later, Dying Fetus is still kicking around. Despite accusations of wiggerdom, of overly trendy music, of selling out, they've managed to keep going and stay pretty high on the heap of modern death metal. Hell, this isn't without reason: albums like 2003's 'Stop At Nothing' are absolutely vicious and infectious slabs of groovy death/grind that's impossible not to cause headbanging in the majority of the population. Which is precisely what makes 'War Of Attrition' so inexcusable.
Sweet christ is this album boring. To say that this LP was phoned in would be a step up: this thing was written in, emailed in, I don't know, fucking AIMed in. What the hell happened here? Previous Dying Fetus releases have been moderately technical, very catchy, and generally brutal fun for the whole family, but this? This is sterile, trite crap. Four years after their last LP, Dying Fetus have churned out possibly the laziest and least intense LP of their careers, and there's no reason as to why this should be. No enormous personal upheaval, no dramatic label switch, nothing to even remotely result in predictable paint-by-numbers bullshit like this.
The entire album reeks of abject sterility. Packing some of the driest production I've ever heard in a metal album, 'War Of Attrition' offers absolutely nothing that wasn't done better last decade. Yeah, the music is more technical, it's (I guess) faster, more artificially brutal, still has the breakdowns, etc. But it's missing one thing: PASSION. Yes, 'War Of Attrition' lacks any and all of the intensity of previous Dying Fetus releases and does nothing more than slap predictable 'tech' riffs over uninteresting drum patterns and ridiculously listless vocals from King Wigger himself, John Gallagher. Perhaps this godawful shift to shit could have been predicted by the lazy-ass cover art that could have been grafted together by any fourteen year-old kid with a torrented copy of Photoshop and an hour to kill. What the fuck, four years we've been waiting and they give us, of all things, this record?
Here's how a song on 'War Of Attrition' goes: Start up with a moderately fast 'technical' riff over some bland double bass drum pattern. Throw in a couple copy/paste bridges, have Gallagher gurgle like a fucking retard over them, add catastrophically uninteresting breakdown, end. Repeat EIGHT FUCKING TIMES. How can an album that took four years to make offer so fucking little in the way of, oh, I don't know, content? You want to know how? Because Dying Fetus got fucking lazy. Gallagher and crew (I think that's what rappers call groups of friends nowadays) got fat and happy on Relapse royalties and decided that making brutal music was now secondary to keeping the paychecks rolling in by cracking out eight more songs that kids are too stupid NOT to mosh to. I vaguely nodded my head at the second breakdown in 'Homicidal Retribution'. That's as active as I got.
Speaking of which, how fucking lazy are these song titles? 'Homicidal Retribution'? 'Insidious Repression'? 'Unadulterated Hatred'? Come fucking on! Dying Fetus song titles have always been tepid at best, but the 'adverb plus aggressive verb' pattern is done on HALF THIS FUCKING ALBUM this time. 'War Of Attrition' is a fucking joke. Don't buy it, don't download it, don't fund this meaningless bullshit in any way, be it even by so much as looking at it in the record store. I'm calling this the ultimate fucking disappointment of the year. And goddamn I'm sticking with that even though we're not half way through February. Fuck Dying Fetus, fuck John Gallagher, fuck Relapse Records, and fuck everyone who doesn't demand more from their music than this.
(Originally written for www.vampire-magazine.com)