Album Review: FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY Absolute Hope Absolute Hell
In the world of metal, the term 'core' is as divisive as modern politics. And in Fit for an Autopsy's case, the moniker has become all too familiar. With that fact established, the group has taken a stylistic step in what I can consider one of the most commendable of the year. The shift away from the conventions of their genre is truly a risky move, but hopefully this six-piece can change deathcore from a dirty word to a diverse classification.
With the previous mentioned intent, there certainly are factors that aid this notion. Firstly, a new vocalist always signifies a clean slate for a group. And while Joe Badolato's delivery does not fully ooze originality, the execution is undeniably powerful. As the overall third LP and second on eOne Music, Absolute Hope Absolute Hell is vital in the future and reputation of this budding band.
The first line of the record doesn't quite succeed in furthering this group away from the cliches of their genre. In full chant mode, the vocals scream out, "We could have had it all…," a lyrical stereotype of the Warped Tour/Mayhem Fest crowd. Musically, this opening title track is beefy and flat-out in your face similar to likes of Whitechapel or Thy Art is Murder. It sets a strong, but quizzical standard for the remaining ten songs. "Wither," "Saltwound," and "Murder in the First" are also subject to this formula of lively intensity. As a listener, the shifting, buried subtleties aren't revealed or realized until "Storm Drains." The band begins to unravel their tough guy wrapper to unveil a groove-oriented sound reminiscent to Gojira.
And just like that, it completely dawns on me. Whether there was intention behind it or not, the music possessed a progressive quality, smoothly luring the listener into the "new" sound with each song. While the first few tracks were nearly parallel to past material, the transformation becomes quite apparent after the first half. Of course, this isn't a full 180 for Fit for an Autopsy, but undoubtfully a step in the right direction.
"Ghosts in the River" affirms this conviction by settling for a toned-back death/groove style. The subdued mannerisms are continued on"Mask Maker," yet the group begins to ween back to melodic deathcore territory on "Hollow Shell" with a catchy "I am the pariah" verse repeated. The distorted vocals presented allow "Out to Sea" to be a unique and commendable transition track, rising the tension for the Veil of Maya-like riffs of "False Positive." Closing piece, "Swing the Axe," is the most anthemic of the band's discography with a grandeur climax.
As predicted, Will Putney stands out as the MVP in regards to both guitar work and production. In regards to Putney's previous production work including Northlane, Sworn In, or The Acacia Strain, the sound has been very hit or miss for my personal taste. For this album, Putney simply highlights what is necessary, a technique that is most suiting for the genre. Although experimentation within the production can be crucial to accenting dynamics, the direct tactic serves the compositions well.
A burger joint can sneak salads into their menu, yet the brand is still two buns and a hunk of meat. In the same way, Fit for an Autopsy can slip musical variations into their compositions, but the fundamentals are still invested in deathcore. As most should, I applaud the removal of breakdowns and blast beats on this release. This band is in the midst of a key transition of both identity in relation to a stale genre, however there is still plenty of pruning and exploring for this group to be considered fully matured. With both intentions and musical aesthetics considered, Absolute Hope Absolute Hell has plenty to offer among generous amounts of chunky riffs and in-depth songwriting.