Yer Metal is Olde: Dying Fetus – Destroy the Opposition

An album released in the year 2000, celebrating a 20th anniversary, makes yer metalhead feel rather olde. However, time and age has done naught to diminish the power and lightning in a bottle creativity marking the monumental third album from Maryland death metal legends, Dying Fetus. Back in the day I was becoming increasingly versed in the realms of extreme metal, in particular death metal, with the mighty Suffocation giving me an appetite for more brutal pathways. Roughly around 2001 I was also becoming more and more intrigued by the output of particular record labels and Relapse Records had a formidable roster of cutting edge bands to investigate during the era. These investigations led to me purchasing a CD of Destroy the Opposition and my love affair with Dying Fetus began. I was hit with the bug and became an instant fan, tracking down their prior releases, including their underrated Purification through Violence debut and steamrolling sophomore LP, Killing on Adrenaline.

Destroy the Opposition captured Dying Fetus at the peak of their powers, featuring an outstanding line-up, which would sadly splinter following the album’s release, leaving mastermind and creative force John Gallagher (guitars, low vocals) to pick up the pieces and forge on. And although Dying Fetus boast an incredibly consistent discography, Destroy the Opposition remains their finest hour, and an undisputed masterpiece of slam-oriented brutal death. The template may owe a sizable debt to the New York death metal scene, but Dying Fetus cultivated a distinctive style and sound all their own, adding plenty of hardcore attitude into the mix. Boulder sized grooves and granite smashing slams are frequently detonated, never for cheap thrills, and always backed by top shelf riffage and penetrating hooks. Accessibility may be a funny word to describe a brutal death album, but Destroy is so goddamn addictive and laden with fat, hooky, technical riffs, and aforementioned grooves, addiction sets in quickly.

Consistency is the name of the game, with not a shred of filler in sight. Although the slammy grooves and catchy song structures provide instant engagement, Destroy the Opposition is an incredibly complex and carefully crafted platter, built on intricately detailed compositions, drop on a dime time changes, and jaw dropping technicality. These winning attributes never come at the expense of cohesion. Opener “Praise the Lord (Opium of the Masses)” is a stunning entry point into the world of Dying Fetus. The contorting structure offers a twisting mass of technicality, high octane blasting, dazzling fret work, and infectiously delicious riffs, with the main riff one for the ages. The title track is an irresistible ball of fury and destruction, “Epidemic of Hate” offers up a belligerent beatdown of dynamic, crunching death, adorned by superb riffs and brilliant, rap-like rhythmic vocal trade-off, before an explosion of fury and dense, chunky groove consolidate the song’s greatness. Destroy the Opposition‘s first half features some of their most iconic songs, including the unfuckwithable ‘Born in Sodom,” however, the second half is just as monstrous. “Pissing in the Mainstream” jams tons of energy and creative ideas into a mere two minutes of relentlessly aggressive deathgrind, while the underrated “For Us or Against Us” is a frantic, dynamic marvel, featuring a string of highlight reel moments and neck wrecking grooves.

Lyrically, Dying Fetus continued distancing themselves from their gory roots, tackling social and political issues with passion and intelligence, spearheaded by bassist/vocalist Jason Netherton’s sharp penmanship. Of course, the lyrical aspect can get a little lost in translation, which brings us to the brilliant dual vocal attack of Gallagher and Netherton. Rarely has such a brutal, grisly vocal onslaught operated in such harmony. Gallagher’s trademark guttural burps and uber low vox are full of character and rhythmic style, perfectly balanced by Netherton’s semi-decipherable mid-ranged growls. Meanwhile, Gallagher and partner in crime Sparky Voyles deliver a dual axe performance to be reckoned with; a slick, complex pit of top shelf riffs, intricate fretwork, dashes of melody, and occasional striking solo. Drummer Kevin Talley may be known as a hired gun in later years, but the truest reflection of his percussive talents were on display during his time pounding the skins for Dying Fetus. Talley’s imaginative fills, tight double bass work, and ability to merge complex chops with a heavily groove-based style is performed with character and finesse.

The whole package is wrapped in a balanced production job, combining trademark heft and low-end with a killer guitar tone and crisp clarity. Destroy the Opposition sounds as fresh, addicting, and devastating as it did when first released, a testament to its songwriting strengths and bottomless well of sick riffs and pile-driving grooves. Each remarkably well crafted and infectious composition a brutal extravaganza of technical prowess, sheer heft, and jacked-up energy, built on pillars of stunning riffcraft and intelligent, memorable songwriting.

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