Originally written by Ian Chainey.
Sort of like unexpectedly seeing the girl that punched your V-card, any time I listen to Dying Fetus my thoughts are inundated with fond memories. “Praise the Lord (Opium of the Masses)” was the first death metal song that truly flattened me. The slam parts, the speedy sweep picked widdly-widdlies, the pig-getting-porked squeals; all of it added up to an unequaled adrenaline rush that resulted in a dent in my forehead courtesy of my steering wheel. Even today, I’m still a bit attached to John Gallagher, the destroyer of my death metal cherry. In fact, I guess you could say that my first time is still causing sentimental blindness. The rest of the world is intent on pointing out how Dying Fetus has done me wrong and keeps asking me why I willingly endure the punishment. For example, when the fickle metal press cried, “Wigger!” after the less than enthusiastically received Stop at Nothing, I was happily bopping along, excited to hear the elements that cemented my love in the first place. He hit me (and it felt like a kiss), then? Not quite. I can admit that the post-Destroy the Opposition era hasn’t been the best of days, but is it really as bad as everyone makes it out to be? Maybe War of Attrition will make me see the light…
Or maybe not. Through all the ridiculous claims I’ve heard about Dying Fetus—including the most recent one about them being the harbinger of the icky deathcore genre that’s currently filling venues with Castro hats and increasing cowboy employment—one thing about the band remains unarguable: Dying Fetus sounds like Dying Fetus. In a genre that’s willing to give genericalness and flat out theft a pass if you execute well, Mr. Gallagher has always had a unique sound, one you could easily pick out in a police lineup. War of Attrition is no different in that respect, it sounds like a Dying Fetus album, just one with some hiccups.
Breakneck tech sections give way to groovy half-time slam parts as intricate guitar and bass lines create compelling death metalophonies; vocals vary from a more core oriented grunt to your usual farmyard growls and gurgles; lyrics favor the band’s own brand of political flavored poetry. It has been the Dying Fetus blueprint since Killing on Adrenaline and it remains largely unchanged on War of Attrition. But, for the first time, that could be considered a minor downfall. Not that the formula is tired and worn out, heavens no, but songs like “Insidious Repression” tread dangerously close to past grooves. To the skeptic, War of Attrition will come off as prefabricated; pieced together from previous successes to sate the hunger of a Fetus fan that has been waiting close to four years for new material. To the dedicated follower, these moments might lessen the impact, but it doesn’t take away from how much fun this album is on the whole.
Yes, F-U-N, because nothing can get in the way of a well placed guitar/bass run or a spine-compressing slam and War of Attrition is overflowing with them. Of course, the unsteady drumming is a bit of a hindrance and will add more ammo to the arguments of anyone that gave up when Talley jumped ship. The album, though, is what you make of it and if you want to overanalyze every section to see what the band has lost, you’re missing the forest for the trees. Is it the best death metal album released this year? No, and it probably won’t even be close when the ball drops on ’07, but if you’re looking for some technical death interspersed with seriously headbangable riffs, look no further. It sounds like Dying Fetus, and even though it’s not prime Fetus, that’s enough for me. Case in point: When “Homicidal Retribution” kicks into gear with Gallagher’s deep growl, there’s a familiar rush of blood to both heads and my steering wheel braces itself for impact. Praise the lord, indeed.