All the computers and production skill in the world can't nail down that certain indefinable "something" that makes a good album great. DYING FETUS had it when "Destroy the Opposition" came out — it wasn't radically different than what they'd done before, but it just had that oomph to it, the sound of a band firing on all cylinders and ready to kill. It put them on the map to the extent that it seemed to throw the band itself for a loop — they have yet to top it.
Why bring up DYING FETUS in an ALL SHALL PERISH review? For one, despite being marketed as some sort of ambitious metalcore act, the band has quite a bit of grind coursing through their veins. There's also the fact that these guys know their way around the sort of breakdowns that evoke supremely ugly mosh pits, the kind that lead to compound fractures and exposed bits of bone. Most importantly, however, is just that "it" — that indefinable sense of a band hitting its stride and delivering their finest hour, where every note is infused with the utmost urgency and a punishing focus.
"The Price of Existence" mixes death metal and hardcore, without resorting to any played-out metalcore clichés — no clean singing, no poppy stuff, just utterly crushing death metal with some melodic guitars, some Swedish riffing, forceful and brutal vocals and, believe it or not, actual songs with memorable parts! There are bits of melody here and there, of the more bombastic, instrumental-interlude type, but the primary objective of ALL SHALL PERISH seems to be making the literal meaning of their name come to life, as violently as possible.
Check out "There Is No Business To Be Done On a Dead Planet" — the guitars are spinning all these spiderwebs of melody, but meanwhile the drums are blasting away ferociously, and the vocals are entering into that pig-squeal gore-grind territory. Even when the song shifts gears into an ominous breakdown (with some noteworthy bass work), it's got this hair-trigger tension and wild-eyed abandon to it, pure intensity and adrenaline, almost daring you to sit still while it careens back into the hyperblast, then segues into the slow, seething beginning of "Better Living Through Catastrophe".
The point here is, "The Price of Existence" just never friggin' lets up. All the elements have come together on this album — musicianship, brutality, production, songwriting, and performances delivered as if everyone's life depended on it. The result is an impressive piece of metal, one that should vault this scrappy, hard-touring band a lot higher in the pecking order of working bands in the scene. The only question now is: how do they top this one?