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It may be a moot point by now, but whenever I’ve written about a deathcore release before, I always touch on the nature of innovation and about painting yourself into a corner. Some bands are perfectly content at writing releases in a similar style and on not deviating from their path, with perhaps only making slight, subtle changes here and there. Others will try to break the mould and write something completely different yet at the risk of alienating their fanbase because it just simply didn’t work (looking right at you, Suicide Silence).
I feel that slight changes whilst retaining the core sound of the band is always the best way to go about things. Adding in some new vocal styles, changing up the songwriting structures slightly, and sparsely spreading influences from other genres here and there. It’s playing it safe, sure, but truth be told, deathcore is just one of those genres where this is almost a necessity due to the often fickle nature of the fans. Fit For An Autopsy understand this and they’ve tastefully added new sounds and ideas here with their new record, the recently released ‘The Great Collapse’.
Make no mistake, this is no nu-metal or Deftones worship record; this is dark, heavy and menacing deathcore done right.
Opener ‘Hydra’ is a crushing, drop G breakdown laden album opener, and it’s heavy. There are several masterful, groovy death metal riffs found here and mid-song, there’s an ambient and very Gojira-like section that hits. Second song and lead single, ‘Heads Will Hang’ is up next, and this basically became my favourite Fit For An Autopsy track when I first heard it. Not only are there even more tasty riffs here than you could poke a stick at (seriously, I’m not sure what’s in the water where guitarists Will Putney, Pat Sheridan and Tim Howley wrote this but dayumn), but there’s also some very well integrated clean vocals in the song’s choruses, with another slick, laid back section following the second chorus.
Vocalist Joe Badolato is a truly great fit for this band and this style, and his voice here is a lot more dynamic than I ever expected it to be. The first indication I got of this band using clean vocals was on their split EP ‘The Depression Sessions’ with Thy Art Is Murder and The Acacia Strain, and it’s good to see that these guys retained that and used it all to great effect on a new full-length record. Of course, Badolato provides plenty of screams and growls throughout and has one powerful voice held within his chest.
It’s worth noting that this is still undeniably a Fit For An Autopsy record at heart.
‘Black Mammoth’ is very much in the style of the tracks on the last record ‘Absolute Hope, Absolute Hell’. ‘Black Mammoth‘ also contains a great political message too, with the song’s video showing FFAA standing in support with and raising awareness of the Native American tribes protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the environmental hazards such a pipeline present to water supplies, and how it will desecrate sacred lands. (The band also touches on the world’s environmental issues with ‘When The Bulbs Burn Out‘, a wake-up call and a middle-finger to those espousing Trumpian rhetoric about climate change.)
Moving on, fourth song ‘Terraform’ is a very progressive death metal influenced track, with a great guitar solo to boot, and maintains the solid flow of this record. Now, if you’re after breakdowns, there’s definitely plenty here to be found here. As I said before, this is still a deathcore record, progressive influences and clean vocals aside.
However, the real curveball song for me is the penultimate track ‘Empty Still’, with the moody clean guitars and reverberant, laid back drum patterns that make up the first two minutes, all sliding underneath Badolato’s hefty roars. This preludes the enormous heavy middle section of the song that then flows back into another clean section, followed by yet another pummeling heavy section, ‘Empty Still‘ is probably the most dynamic moment on the whole tracklisting. But even so, the clean section in album closer ‘Sprial’ is probably the most musically intriguing part of this entire record. It carries a different feel to it from ‘Empty Still’, but the transition to the blast beat section that closes out the song (and the record as a whole) is a little jarring. Although, while I’m pretty sure that that was the point, it’s definitely got some punch to it!
Speaking of punch, sonically, it’s very much what you would expect from a deathcore band, but it’s been done well. Great guitar tones, solid sounding drums (though I didn’t really like the snare sound) and a pretty stellar mix. I’d expect no less when your guitarist happens to be heavy music producer extraordinaire Will Putney. It made me forget about the spotty, inconsistent overall mixing and sonic quality of Northlane’s ‘Node’ and (Copia’s new one) that Putney has also worked on in the past.
A job well done, mate!
I believe that Fit For An Autopsy has gone about a sonic direction change in exactly the right way with ‘The Great Collapse’. They’ve retained all of their signature aspects and the tropes of their genre but added their own distinct touches to it. From a musical aspect, it’s definitely the most interesting thing they’ve released to date. But overall, in my humble opinion, this album isn’t quite as crushing nor as memorable as ‘Absolute Hope, Absolute Hell’ was, and it’s also still somewhat monotonous at times. However, I really feel that this could very well become my favourite release of Fit For An Autopsy in due time.
2. Heads Will Hang
3. Black Mammoth
5. Iron Moon
6. When The Bulbs Burn Out
7. Too Late
8. Empty Still
‘The Great Collapse’ is out now.