There are few death metal bands out there who can claim the same impressive pedigree as Dying Fetus. Forming in 1991, they were around for much of death metal’s heyday, and watched as trends came and went, superstars were born and promptly forgotten, genres came to prominence and faded out just as quickly. And through all of it, they never stopped being Dying Fetus. After arriving on the scene in the early 90s, they quickly made a name for themselves with their hyper-brutal approach to death metal, carving out a niche for themselves that has to this day remained unrivaled by any other band. On the band’s eighth album, Wrong One to Fuck With, Dying Fetus do more than simply split skulls, they offer a concise, slick lesson in hyper-brutal technicality that will have Guitar Center employees cursing their name for generations to come.
“Fixated on Devastation” is the album’s opening track, and acts as the band’s mission statement for Wrong One. They’re here to fuck shit up and don’t care about anything other than making your head bang and neck ache. On this track, we’re shown that Dying Fetus haven’t lost any of the piss n’ vinegar of their early days, if anything, Wrong One sees them at their angriest, delivering unapologetic audio pummelings with the frantic energy of a band half their age, coupled with the virtuosity you’d expect from such seasoned vets.
One thing Dying Fetus don’t shy away from on Wrong One are groovy breakdowns. Almost every track has at least one moment on it worthy of snapping every bone in your spine headbanging to. It speaks volumes about the talent Dying Fetus possess that these moments always feel like natural extensions of their respective tracks, never tacked on as an afterthought. My absolute favourite comes at the 2:30 mark on the title track - just when you think it can’t get any heavier, Dying Fetus say “Fuck you, and your neck too!” and release one of the most headbangable, grind-flavoured solos I’ve ever heard, and the whole affair is pure death metal bliss.
All-around, the technicality that makes up the skeleton of Wrong One is as impressive as it’s ever been. This is a band operating as a unit, and every member is performing at their best. The best way to describe it is “tight.” Everything is slick and “tight” in a way that’s so satisfying to listen to. This is the sound of a band in their prime doing what they do best: Ripping faces off and force feeding them to you.
While Dying Fetus get a lot of credit for the relentless onslaught of musical brutality that comes from the rhythm section and guitars, it should be noted that Sean Beasley’s vocals are nothing short of monstrous. He’s one of the few death metal vocalists with their own unique style. When you hear him, you know it’s him. He alternates between low growls and gruff howls at the drop of a hat, and his throat-destroying performance is a big part of Wrong One‘s charm. He’s completely unintelligible, but at the end of the day, ain’t that how it’s supposed to be?
If you’re looking for one of the best death metal albums of the year, look no further. Wrong One to Fuck With pulls no punches, and it offers no mercy. It’s gotten me sent to the IMV human resources department three times, and singing along with it has earned me dishwashing duties in the IMV cafeteria twice [ed. note: where he still isn’t allowed to eat], but I still don’t regret it. It’s got the slams. It’s got the hooks. But most importantly, it’s got something much of today’s death metal doesn’t: memorability. I’ve had the buzzing riff from the title track stuck in my head all week, and it’s not likely to leave any time soon. Dying Fetus brought out the rusty bone saw and carved themselves out a spot on my top ten list for the year. If you have even a passing interest in death metal, don’t let this album pass you by.
You can buy Wrong One to Fuck With from Relapse Records on all formats.