DYING FETUS must be considered among the elite of USDM; right up there with CANNIBAL CORPSE, MORBID ANGEL, DEICIDE, NILE, and SUFFOCATION. And it is albums like "Killing on Adrenaline" and its 2000 follow-up "Destroy the Opposition" that have a lot to do with inclusion of the Maryland act in such good company. One of four Relapse reissues of the band's first four proper releases, "Killing on Adrenaline" is the album that saw DYING FETUS come into its own by raising its game on multiple levels: arrangement, technicality, and a perfecting of its now legendary riff-grooves and breakdowns.
The lineup of guitarist/vocalist/chief-composer John Gallagher, bassist/vocalist/lyricist Jason Netherton, guitarist Brian Latta, and drummer Kevin Talley (his first with the band) collectively created a sound that became, more than ever, identifiable as DYING FETUS. The album boasted lyrical content from Netherton that was more serious and socially aware compared to previous efforts and his barking style of vocal complemented well Gallagher's deep growl. Even the song "Kill Your Mother/Rape Your Dog" was not inclusive of the same overtly offensive lyrics that for the most part characterized past albums: "Kill your mother and rape your dog / fuck these corporations and their fucking record stores". Inclusion of the song "Judgment Day", originally recorded by INTEGRITY, was one indication of the influence that hardcore would have on the DYING FETUS sound. However, it was always incorporated in a way that added to, the violence inherent in the attack. And much of it had to do with Netherton's vocal style and DYING FETUS' mastery of the beat-down — or if you prefer, the breakdown.
"Killing on Adrenaline" is an album filled with downshift chugs and vicious slam-grooves, as well as a songwriting method that was more complex. "Procreate the Malformed" epitomized this newfound compositional depth and came with a staggering number of tempo/riff changes, each one conducive to decapitation-level head-banging. Good goat almighty, the groove that hits just after the 90-second mark of "Fornication Terrorists" is so definitively DYING FETUS that it's ridiculous! But the beauty of "Killing on Adrenaline" is that these moments are the rule, not the exception. You'll find awe-inspiring riffs, brutal patterns, and severe beatings on every track. While it is true that overall diversity wasn't the highest priority here and that later albums brought more refinement in the songwriting approach, "Killing on Adrenaline" may still offer the best front-to-back listening experience of any DYING FETUS release.
Turning to the reissue additions specifically, the question is whether the bonus tracks, repackaging with new liner notes, and the remastering make purchasing the new and improved "Killing on Adrenaline" worth it if you already own the original. On balance I'd answer in the affirmative, but the response is a qualified one. Netherton's liner notes on all four reissues cover only one page, yet offer a wealth of information about the historical period and the album in question. For example, his recollection of the happenstance way that Talley entered the fold, the shift in lyrical focus, and the hardcore tendencies are part and parcel to the DYING FETUS story. The "Fornication Terrorists" 1997 rehearsal demo and the "Judgment Day" live (in Germany) track are take-'em-or-leave-'em proposition, but still nice for the diehard fans.
It is the remastering that is the most important aspect of the "Killing on Adrenaline" reissue, as the original recording was so bass-bloated as to be almost distracting, at least until you got used to it. Having performed the car stereo test on both the original and this reissue I can safely state that the reissue does address the problem, even if it doesn't solve it.
Ask most long-time, informed death metal fans about DYING FETUS' defining works and the response will almost always involve "Killing on Adrenaline" or "Destroy the Opposition". As with anything else, it is a matter of preference that is often — like it or not — colored with nostalgia. I'd tend toward the former as the defining album, but it is not a clear choice. Thinking about that quintessential FETUS riff on "Praise the Lord (Opium of the Masses)" alone almost makes me reconsider the choice. Ask me again tomorrow.