Dying Fetus: Descend Into Depravity (Release) 

Pared down to a three-piece (vocalist/guitarist John Gallagher, bassist Sean Beasley and drummer Trey Williams), Baltimore's Dying Fetus should possess, by any reasonable expectation, a diminished sonic presence.

However, such is definitely not the case with Descend Into Depravity, the technical death-metal act's sixth full-length, and fourth for Relapse. Indeed, the band sounds absolutely recharged, and perhaps even more nihilistic, with songs like "Shepherd's Commandment" straying very much into grind-core territory, particularly due to Gallagher's ultra-guttural microphone-swallowing. Although the adjective "technical" suggests you shouldn't expect too many slam or groove elements, there are plenty of breakdowns to keep your neck from completely snapping off during the spastic guitar-riffing and atonal solos that punctuate each and every song.

"Your Treachery Will Die With You" pours down aural punishment like 1,000 iron sledgehammers crushing an aluminum storage shed. "Conceived Into Enslavement" simply obliterates everything in its path, thanks to Williams' blast beats, which owe more to military ordnance than traditional musicality.

The Fetus has always displayed a political view (a dim one steeped in genuine paranoia and real conspiracy). Depravity dares imply that, in spite of the 2008 elections, nothing has changed. American empire digs its claws—and its own grave—deeper, drawing more blood, inflicting more pain and suffering worldwide. Watching the news, can anyone say these metalheads are wrong?

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