The first album from Dying Fetus is certainly an "extreme" metal album in the most literal sense of the term. The band's appalling name, their brutal sound, and lyrics that could put NWA to shame are all valid reasons why Purification Through Violence is one of the most extreme albums ever recorded. In the liner notes of the 2011 Relapse Records re-issue, the band sites hardcore rap (particularly NWA) as a huge influence - that's quite apparent here. Although there are no distinct rap sections, multiple breakdowns and intentionally offensive lyrics hint towards the scene that death metal purists love to hate the most. This is an unfocused and flawed album, but it has a level of charm that makes for a fun listen. Not to mention some of those hilarious lyrics!
Purification Through Violence is a mix of death metal and grindcore (think something like Napalm Death/Terrorizer meets Cannibal Corpse) with a few breakdowns thrown in for good measure. The compositions are seldom very memorable, but there are some notable riffs throughout and the entire album is extremely headbang-worthy! One of the best things about this album (for me, at least) are the tongue-in-cheek (and often hilarious) lyrics. Something like "Blunt Force Trauma" or "Skull Fucked" makes for some good reading, although there are also some more serious tracks here. "Beaten Into Submission" and "Nothing Left to Pray For" are more focused around social and historical conflicts, but a fair number "F-bombs" are still incorporated into the end product. Yes, the lyrics are juvenile, but I don't think many of them were meant to be taken at face value. The musicianship is a bit on the sloppy side here, but it's still clear that Dying Fetus is a group of skillful and talented musicians. The vocals from John Gallagher are particularly noteworthy - he masters many different styles of growled vocals and does an excellent job on Purification Through Violence.
The production is a bit of an issue for me. Although I like the raw and underdeveloped qualities, the drums often sound awful (in my opinion, at least).
The debut album from Dying Fetus is often considered an essential brutal death metal/grindcore album, and it's hard to argue with that position. My personal enjoyment is limited, though, and the most I can go with is 3 stars. If you buy the Relapse re-issue, you can get two bonus tracks in addition to some excellent liner notes. Anyone who's going to buy Purification Through Violence nowadays is advised to check out this version.
1. Blunt Force Trauma
2. Beaten Into Submission
3. Skull Fucked
4. Permanently Disfigured
5. Raped on the Altar
6. Nothing Left to Pray For
7. Nocturnal Crucifixion
8. Skum (Fuck the Weak)
9. Beaten Into Submission (Rehearsal Demo, 1997) (Bonus Track)
10. Raped On The Altar (Live In Herbolzheim, Germany, 1998) (Bonus Track)