Written by Kep
Dying Fetus – Make Them Beg for Death
> Brutal death metal/grindcore
> Maryland, US
> Releasing September 8
> Relapse Records
What a time to be alive, am I right? Here we are in the golden age of death metal, watching the rise of dozens of outstanding extreme acts, and we’re still lucky enough to be getting music from the old school giants. The last few years have seen strong releases from Carcass, Immolation, Obituary, Autopsy (and another coming this October), Incantation, and Bloodbath, with more soon to come from legends like Cannibal Corpse and Cryptopsy. Not to be left out, Dying Fetus have joined the party with Make Them Beg for Death, their first album in six years, and it follows the high-quality trend of those acts I just mentioned.
By this point we should all know what we’re going to be getting from the Maryland-based trio: bludgeoning, merciless brutal death with spurts of acrobatic technicality, bits of grinding fury, and an unearthly amount of groove. Their pedigree of eight beastly records speaks for itself, and as you might expect, there aren’t any surprises on that front here on Make Them Beg for Death. It’s a premium example of a band that’s figured out the formula and isn’t deviating. And why should they?
So, to no one’s surprise, Make Them Beg for Death is extremely good, and for the reasons you’d expect. But one aspect of the album that might get overlooked is how enormously fucking heavy the production is. Extreme metal production has come a long ways since 2009, when Dying Fetus first recorded an album with the legendary Steven Wright behind the board (also the first time they recorded as a trio and with their current lineup). Descend into Depravity sounded killer for the time—it had a caustic, abrasive guitar tone and dominant drums in the mix—but 2012’s Reign Supreme and 2017’s Wrong One to Fuck With both took leaps forward in making the band sound bigger and weightier by progressively widening and deepening the texture, drums sounding less like a kit and more like an artillery battery, guitars and bass so thick you could reach out and touch them. Make Them Beg for Death’s production is the pinnacle of that progression: it’s preposterously, unbelievably huge, every single note, hit, and growl is clear, and Mark Lewis’ mixing job is as close to perfect as is humanly possible. The damn thing is a masterclass on what heavy music should sound like in 2023.
As usual, Dying Fetus’ strength lies in their ability to write the catchiest damn skull-demolishing riffs you’ve ever heard. I’ve been walking around the house for weeks humming riffs and headbanging; it doesn’t matter which track most recently played, there’s a handful of earworms in every single one of them. You’ve surely heard singles “Compulsion for Cruelty” and “Feast of Ashes”, both of which are lovingly crafted to make a mosh pit go buck wild and contain so many A+ riffs in them that you’ll need more than two hands to count them all. That chunky beast at 1:45 in “Compulsion”, with its understated popping snare groove, and that bonecrushing groove that starts at 1:37 in “Feast” are signature Dying Fetus shit, and they’re just the barest taste of what Make Them Beg for Death contains. There’s not a mediocre track to be found, and when songs like the charging “When the Trend Ends” go out of their way to establish main riffs that shy away from the chunkier, more brutal sound and slide in miniature melodic bits as a change of pace, those endeavors are every bit as successful and even more memorable.
The whole thing hits like a ton of bricks wrapped in two tons of molten steel and delivered via nuclear warhead. The songwriting remains strong, with tons of tempo shifts, pulverizing slams, and spidery arpeggiatic fretboard acrobatics packed into every song, and they never sit on one riff or groove or slam or idea for long enough for it to get stale. You can point at any track as an example, but let’s use “Undulating Carnage”, my favorite of the album’s back half. A quick intro, an outrageously fun main riff that stabs and jabs like a championship boxer, a slightly slower and simpler riff under the verse, a sprinting riff that rubberbands upwards, then solo guitar introduces a whole new scorching tempo with blasts that leads to a mega-catchy punchy syncopated deal. So much great shit, and that’s only the first 90 seconds of a four-minute track.
The individual performances are, of course, outstanding. Drummer Trey Williams is a technical powerhouse with speed and groove for days, while John Gallagher and Sean Beasley lay down some of the best material of their careers on guitar and bass respectively. Beasley’s bass sounds great too, a thick steely presence shining through that huge mix. Gallagher and Beasley’s dual vocal approach remains one of the coolest in metal, with Gallagher’s trademark grunting death growl in particular as deeply gratifying to hear to as ever. I really can’t muster up a complaint of any sort; the record just rules.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I know I’m essentially just fanboying at this point, but certain bands have earned that sort of treatment. Like Cannibal Corpse did in 2021 with Violence Unimagined, Dying Fetus have proven their mettle 30+ years deep into their career, delivering what may well be their best work here with Make Them Beg for Death. Listen to it, love it, and let’s make sure to appreciate the legends while they’re still delivering the goods.