Slam death metallers Dying Fetus appear to be going from strength to strength even after twenty years. Still touring on the back of what is possibly the best output from the trio, headlining the second stage at last year's Bloodstock Open Air and accomplishing the unlikely event of playing this year's Download Festival thanks solely to a viral fan campaign, these tech metallers are back in the UK for an expansive tour and tonight sees them in London's Relentless Garage the largest venue they have headlined in the country thus far - for a night of uncompromising brutality.
Support comes from Louisiana black thrash metallers Goatwhore, last in the UK five years ago. This year sees the quartet release album number six 'Constricting Rage of the Merciless', not so full of the black thrash hybrid they are traditionally known for in favour for a more pure thrash sound. Nonetheless, this does not damage the music in anyway and the band is evidently proud of this release with the majority of the set representing it. With ease, Goatwhore summon a mosh pit with their uncompromising metal. The support for the band is excellent, particularly given the audience's general lack of familiarity with them prior to this show.
'Constricting Rage of the Merciless' is rammed full of riffs that leave bruises and therefore translates seamlessly into the live environment. Songs such as the melodic black metal influenced 'Schadenfreude', the catchy 'Baring Teeth for Revolt' and the hyper aggressive 'FBS' (or 'Fucked by Satan') provide a platter of outstanding headbanging material that gets the blood boiling. Growler Ben Falgoust II is utterly convincing as a frontman with his spiked gauntlets and unbridled enthusiasm, harnessing an energy usually absent in plenty of extreme metal frontmen. Leaving the stage with 'Apocalyptic Havoc' for the audience to remember them by, Goatwhore's successful performance has the spectators giving a sonorous ovation and hopefully, this is convincing enough for these Americans to return to London sooner than another five years.
Dying Fetus have not even taken the stage yet but the mosh pit is so close to bursting into its impending battery. As the three-piece open up with the furious 'In the Trenches', one of the best songs from their latest full-length 'Reign Supreme', the venue explodes into violence and headbanging hard to resist one or the other given the thick groove of the crushing guitar work. The headliner's take on death metal is one that pits severe brutality against technical wizardry with vocal duties divided between guitarist John Gallagher and bassist Sean Beasley, both doing so while effortlessly noodling on their instrument's necks.
The setlist largely splits itself between fan favourites and 'Reign Supreme' material. The usual 'One Shot, One Kill', 'Intentional Manslaughter' and 'Grotesque Impalement' make a bloodied appearance alongside newer assaults 'From Womb to Waste', 'Subjected to a Beating' and 'Second Skin'. Rhythmic slam death metal passages paced alongside technical guitar flourishes ensure Dying Fetus are memorable and the lack of triggered drums (all too common in brutal death metal these days) and a guitar sound empowered by hardcore influence arm them with an instantly recognisable sound for over two decades of conquering the death metal throne, evidenced further by tonight's collection of songs touching on albums from throughout their storied discography. The sound of the venue is well-configured to produce optimum results for such intricate yet bludgeoning music.
The infectious and much loved 'Praise the Lord (Opium for the Masses)' sees Dying Fetus end their set on an elevated status. However, fans of the band will note that the evening has passed without staples 'Pissing in the Mainstream' and 'Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog', receiving a hearty ovation from the punters. These two songs form a sublime one-two punch and are followed by the slightly less absorptive 'Your Treachery Will Die With You' as the smashed bodies in the pit enjoy one final wave of chaos.
Dying Fetus have desecrated London once again, their blunt-force death metal concluding the weekend with a bang. As the opinions of the crowd making their way home suggests, these Americans remain a force to be reckoned with and with their current popularity higher than ever, it looks like they are set to be sticking around for some time longer.
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