"Malicious bout, condemnation, brutal beat down / hostility, ferocious war, overwhelming / trouncing every foe obtainable", words from "Atrocious by Nature" that sum up well the savage bellicosity that has defined the music of vocalist/guitarist John Gallagher's career as front man for DYING FETUS. Technically proficient, sometimes groovy, and always unashamedly brutal modern death metal has been the approach from the beginning (though the chops have improved over the years) and "Descend into Depravity" does nothing to alter it, a point with which the band's dedicated fan base should find most pleasing.
While it can be argued that DYING FETUS will never top 2000's "Destroy the Opposition" (I'm actually rather fond of its predecessor "Killing on Adrenaline"), Gallagher has marched forth through myriad lineup changes without missing a beat, right on up through 2007's "War of Attrition". The short of it is that if you are fan of that album, then it is a virtual guarantee that you will be a fan of "Descend into Depravity". Never a verse-chorus-verse style band, what you get here is an impressive musical display of virtuosity, yet one that is never excessive to the detriment of the slam factor. Comparatively speaking, "Descend into Depravity" contains a little more groove and texture, in some cases seemingly borrowing more from the earlier works, if only to a certain extent. Some sections, particularly those featuring Beasley's higher-register vocals (to Gallagher's low growls) offer a vibe similar to Jason Netherton's past work in DYING FETUS and current work in MISERY INDEX. Here again, these are all positives; there are really no negatives, unless you are a looking for a marked departure in style.
But if you really want to prove your worth as a FETUS follower then prove you can recite the lyrics to each of these songs. The lyrical content sure doesn't follow the three-lines-and-a-could-of-dust mentality and Gallagher's growls aren't exactly intelligible. These are some well thought out, detailed lyrics that do indeed take the listener on a journey into the depths of depravity, while exploring the finer points of man's inhumanity toward man, a concept that is superbly illustrated in the artwork of Orion Landau.
Returning to the analysis of how "Descend into Depravity" stacks up again previous efforts, chances are that those comparisons will only seem striking to the dedicated follower, rather than the average fan. For everyone else, "Descend into Depravity" is another strong example of modern death metal from one of the genre's pioneers.