Dying Fetus + Beneath the Massacre + Origin @ Birmingham Academy 2, 30th April 2010

thumbnail DYING FETUS

Hot on the heels of the Black Dahlia Murder’s Bonecrusher Fest last February, and the Aborted / Red Chord/ Rotten Sound tour that was sadly buggered up by a pesky volcano earlier this month, yet another package tour came along to give the hordes of Birmingham yet another value-for-money shot in the arm of brutality. This time it was the ‘Thrash & Burn’ tour setting up residence in Birmingham, the second annual bill with last year’s instalment boasting Darkest Hour and Bleeding Through.

Upon entering the Academy 2 however, it seemed like a certain ginger-nutted Mancunian lothario was right – money was indeed too tight to mention for a large section of Brum, with the noticeably sparse crowd being treated to the sounds of Origin’s drummer soundchecking, the persistent, whirring clickclickclick of the un-amplified snare giving a teasing glimpse of the kind of relentless speed we would be dealing with once they took to the stage.


Surely enough, these Kansas natives were impressive from the get-go, with their aggressive Death Metal wrought out at head-spinning speeds, only tempered by a less-than-complimentary mix. It was difficult at times during the first few numbers to really pick out a memorable riff or hook, whether that be the fault of a poor soundman or simply the labyrinthine nature of their material.

Thankfully, necessary levels were adjusted and certain knobs twiddled swiftly enough, and with a more forgiving sound on their side, Origin swiftly set about their intended task of complete destruction. ‘The Aftermath’ inspired a modest pit that despite only totalling about six in number, managed to cover approximately twenty square feet of the dancefloor, as did the sluggish mosh parts of ‘The Burning’.

The band managed to remain captivating onstage, if only through watching the talent on display. Mike Flores’ almost obscene fingering up and down of his bass neck, whilst the fingers of his fretting hand resembling a short-circuiting miniature Transformer made for one of the most attention-grabbing bassists I’ve ever seen. And almost lost from the crowd, swamped behind his masses of toms, drummer John Longstreth laid down an unrelenting percussive carpet-bomb, super-tight fills interweaving in between the machine-like blastbeats.

By the time ‘Reciprocal’, from the 2005 ‘Echoes of Decimation’ album was unleashed, with its waves of arpeggios threaded throughout its jagged edges, the crowd were fully appreciative of their efforts, and allowed them a victorious response as they left the stage. Thankfully the crowd had swelled a little at this stage, but wasn’t as busy as the aforementioned Bonecrusher fest for example. Whether that’s due to this years bill — certainly when compared to last years version — being a little more grizzled, a little less in vogue, a little more hairy of the arse meaning there weren’t quite so many of the younger crowd present —not that there was a complete absence of young blood – and the next band due onstage would certainly quench their appetite for a more up-to-date take on Death Metal’s ferocity.


Coming back to the UK for a second tour of duty, having graced the 2009 Thrash & Burn tour, Montreal tech-death-core upstarts Beneath the Massacre took little time in frazzling those last remaining corners of the cortex that weren’t fried by Origin. In a similar fashion to The Faceless and fellow Canadians Ion Dissonance, they ply an eye-wateringly complex mash-up of hardcore-influenced technical death metal. Whereas a number of their peers seemingly are unable to resist cramming in as much complex jiggery-pokery throughout every mannerism of their sound, BTM are equally skilled at utilising more monodimensional chuggery to compliment their over-subscribed compliment of widdle.

This being my first encounter with the band, I was impressed with not only their musical prowess but the huge racket they managed to create, with the reverberations of their bass vibrating along the bar. Having no knowledge of song titles, high points are difficult to pinpoint but these are tracks that could be just as easily identified by algorithms rather than mere titles. With all members of the band apparently in a race to see who gives themselves arthritis first, their blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em guitar runs were dazzling and at times it seems as if the overly-dextrous digits of the guitarist had wrapped themselves around the guitar neck threefold.

Bringing to mind a phone box containing the Dillinger Escape Plan, latter-day Cryptopsy and Despised Icon being pushed down several flights of stairs, those who worship at the technical DM altar but wish that on occasion the band would forget all the theory they learnt at music school and follow a more primeval urge to just drop their heads and CHUG, will find much to love here.


And so to the headliners — the long-standing, well-respected, quaintly-named Dying Fetus. With this year being their tenth one nestled under Relapse Records’ gory, tattered wing, the band have gathered a respectable fanbase over the years, with a decades worth of no-nonsense, straight-ahead, politically aware deathgrind under their belts. Despite weathering a conveyor belt of past members, the band now operate as a trio, trimming any extraneous fat from the lineup. Conversely, this severely affected any stage presence they wished to garner, with the twin vocal attack meaning that bassist Sean Beasley and guitarist John Gallagher were lashed to their respective mic stands like a pair of really, really aggro dogs outside a particularly rough offy.

This meant that for Dying Fetus to have any kind of impact, they would have to stand alone on the strength of their songs and be judged accordingly on them. Thankfully, Birmingham proved to be a particularly benevolent judge on the night and dismissed any charges against them in favour of attempting to crack the floorboards with their foreheads, with the first few rows a mass of windmilling hair atop the signature DM stance of attempting to poo into a 5p size hole in the ground.

Offering facets from all corners of the Death Metal spectrum, Dying Fetus’ juggernaut of tightly -constructed DM had enough unswerving, grimace-faced blasting to appeal to the older, hoarier death-heads, but at the drop of a hat could chuck a beatdown straight from the school of slam death to replace the windmilling of hair with that of the arms.


With plenty of time to fill out their set, they spanned all points of their career, with plenty pulled from latest opus, ‘Descend Into Depravity’. I would have given a few more song titles for you to work with, were it not for DM’s nagging insistence to announce each and every song in a particularly unintelligible voice. The well-received ‘Epidemic of Hate’ from 2000 Relapse debut ‘Destroy the Opposition’ was aired, and even ‘Eviscerated Offspring’, from their 1993 demo which was dedicated on the night, as to be expected, to those from the old school.

Such talk of ‘schools’ seemed particularly irrelevant at a Ding Fetus show, given that the sound straddles both atonal, Azagothian, pinch-harmonic classicism and spunky, up-tempo contemporary breaks and beatdowns. Their adept cross-pollination extended to the crowd tonight as well, with both generations seemingly able to peacefully cohabit in the shadow of such a ferocious soundtrack. Not bad for a band called Dying Fetus eh?

Review – Duncan Wilkins
Photos – Helen Moss

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