Sound — 8
When I hear technical death metal, I always think of a massive blur of well-made but chaotic noise that just goes straight through my ears. Case in point: Brain Drill. For all their technical mastery of sweeps and gravity rolls, it borders on what guitarists would call 'guitar w**kery' and is quite a lot for someone to take in. However, I see this album as a slightly toned down approach, in the same way that a 50 ton weight loses 10 tons, its still very very heavy. By this I mean that Dying Fetus keep to a more riff based idea with complex fills rather than just throwing everything together in sweeps and solos. While most technical death metal doesn't really break many boundaries, save Meshuggah, Dying Fetus still throw in some pounding metal to shake anyones skeleton. Their general sound is close to Necrophagist, although rather than focus on complex time signitures and changes as well as the riffs to go with them, Dying Fetus have a more straight forward bulldozer type style to main riffs although they are heard quite a bit throughout the album. Fills, on the other hand, are monumental. Up until this record, the only few fills I'd really heard that were truly brilliant were the verse riff fill from Scar Symmetry's Holographic Universe and from Xeraths Alterra. But I think the song from this album 'Shepherds Commandment' sets the new bar for me. The band themselves are obviously no slouches: The guitarist is very good at keeping his fills and shreds to the right amount so as not to drag on something absurd, the drummer puts in his parts in all the right places and the bassist is absolutely absurd. One particular highlight is the solo from 'Your Treachery Will Die With You' which is a truly astonishing peice of neo-classical shredding. Only qualms I have with the album is the over emphasis on being 'so heavy we can blow yer head through'. But make no mistake: This isnt any cheesy deathcore band that just adds volume to all the instruments and variates between just 5 chords. While deathcore focuses on just being 'br00tal' heavy noise, Dying Fetus just throws in pure musical skill and still ends up being heavier.
Lyrics — 6
As a death metal outfit, vocals are purely growls and roars while may sound a little generic a lot of the time, still add more than detract from the album. Although as most death metal bands go, lyrics are usually very basic and don't really involve around much other than general mutilation and lots of death with shiny objects. However, 'Descend into Depravity' has a more mature look on lyrics. An example from Shepards Commandment shows: Everyone thinks like me We must be are own sheep Silence all our critics Dissent can't have a place Exile them underground The song seems to be about a silent organization that influences the ideas and the courses of the lives of humans. If anything this is more of a focus on politics and social slavery rather than the usual run-of-the-mill destructive blood letting and mass disembowlment which is commenplace in the death metal/goregrind scene. So although not groundbreaking or truly different (like Cynic with a vocoder), its a definite step up rather than going nowhere.
Overall Impression — 8
On first hearing of Dying Fetus, I thought it would be just more mind-mulching ear burning, but a lot of the time (for this album at least) its pretty organized and coherent. Of course the main reason why I like it is the huge neo-classical influence and their skill rather than the overt heaviness. I really don't see many bands falling into the same style as Dying Fetus, although bands like Necrophagist, Brain Drill, possibly Origin and not quite Meshuggah would be a close bet. I don't particularly listen to death metal constantly, its more of a few songs a day sort of thing. Mostly because, after a while, it becomes just a little overwhelming and begins to border on being noise. However, I'm undoubtedly sure that many people aren't like me at all, and do prefer this as a source and sort of music. I've listened to the album a few times now, although I don't particularly want to buy it (just cuz, I have enough death metal anyway), I do recommend it to anyone at all who prefer this sort of skullmushing death metal. Oh, and they sound nothing like Whitechapel.