For Fans Of
Fit For An Autopsy have always had a knack for separating themselves from the deathcore and death metal pack, crafting a sound that is undeniably theirs and theirs alone. With each new release, the American band has grown more and more unique, coming to a head with their 2017 effort, ‘The Great Collapse,’ which toyed with atmospheric death metal and combined elements from a flurry of other heavy sub-genres. After such a divisive and curveball album, a large number of fans, myself included, began to wonder just how exactly they would even follow it up on a forthcoming 2019 effort. We got our first, resounding answer in July of this year when Fit For An Autopsy dropped ‘Mirrors’ and revealed ‘The Sea of Tragic Beasts.’ That giant single, mixed the somber ambiance of their previous effort with the powerful energy of their earlier works, ensured their fanbase would feel right at home when the release date of October 25th finally rolled around. So, in short, yes: the rest of their mighty new album holds up just as well as ‘Mirrors’ and the newly released titular cut. Hell, if anything, I’d say the majority of this album stomps those two already great songs into the dust!
As a whole, ‘The Sea of Tragic Beasts’ is nothing short of an intricate and absolute mammoth of an album that pushes Fit For An Autopsy to the highest of their capabilities. Every moment of the 44-minute run time packs a powerful punch and keeps you completely drilled in. ‘The Sea of Tragic Beasts’ is a whirlwind of crushing tones and mountainous atmospherics, drenched in dire, important messages about the world today that only serve to bolster the weight of these ten new songs. Tracks like ‘Your Pain Is Mine’ and the eponymous track spark their ever-growing drive for melody and emotive choruses, while songs such as ‘No Man Is Without Fear’ destroy everything in their paths with earth-moving chugs and surgically precise percussion. It’s somewhat hard to put into words the genius that Will Putney honed whilst writing this album, but the guy really went for it on this record, making for his finest work yet.
In a sense, ‘The Sea of Tragic Beasts’ is everything one could ever want within a Fit For An Autopsy album: powerful choruses, technical riffage, grim atmosphere, and earth-shattering breakdowns. (Just wait until you hear the ending of ‘Your Pain Is Mine’; that’s one seriously mental drop right there). This record embraces every single one of the elements that we all know and love about FFAA, while occasionally throwing a bold new wrench into their tight machine to keep things fresh and engaging. This is a near-perfect distillation of what this band can do: the metalcore moments, the deathcore influences, the melodic death metal sounds – it’s got it all! In fact, whilst writing this review, I’m finding it extraordinarily difficult to find points of critique for ‘The Sea Of Tragic Beasts,’ as it’s damn near perfect. I suppose the only aspects that hold it back from being perfect, in my eyes, are the two somewhat filler tracks found in ‘Shepherd’ and ‘Mourn,’ which just aren’t quite as attention-grabbing as the rest of the tracklist, even though they’re still solid tunes.
The bruising hardcore cut of ‘Warfare’ sees FFAA stepping a little out of their melodic-death metal comfort zone, with a massive two-step inducing hardcore chug and some ridiculously groovy drumming to make for the album’s most stomping portion. This is one of the most pissed-off tracks FFAA has ever spawned, steamrolling onward with each snare hit, as the lies of politicians in favor of special interests and the citizens those deceitful words harm the most, are lyrically placed front and center. Elsewhere, the haunting closing track, ‘Napalm Dreams,’ trudges on into a gloomy pit of metal darkness, showcasing apocalyptic harmonies and emotion-packed sorrowful screams, with one of the best cleanly-sung refrains of the entire LP: “and all I wanted was a way out…” repeated just the right amount.
The ambiance is a major aspect that’s mastered on ‘The Sea of Tragic Beasts,’ with moments like the beautifully bleak intro of ‘Mirrors’ pulling you into a dark world with powerful imagery and moody undertones about how we humans harm those around with our choices or lack of action. This album also features what is, for my money, the greatest song in Fit For An Autopsy’s entire career: the monstrous ‘Birds of Prey.’ It pushes a nearly six-minute length, but each measure is intoxicating, causing this beast of a tune to blast by in what feels like a mere instant. Beginning with a slow-burning intro, ‘Birds of Prey’ quickly blasts off into chaos, with a massive chugging ‘Black Mammoth’-esque chorus and a world-ending breakdown to complete it. That’s not to say that this mighty track is the only standout, however: the album is basically a standout in general.
The short and sweet ‘Unloved’ sees Fit For An Autopsy playing with dissonance and aggression, and showcases vocalist Joe Badolato’s doing laps around his entire vocal range. ‘Your Pain Is Mine’ is catchy in every sense of the word, with a groove-filled intro and huge choruses, yet never feels tame or weak. However, the true gem on that track is the enticing build-up bridge and breakdown sections that build real emotion with each bar until it all reaches its eventual, hard-hitting climax. Honestly, there is something for every FFAA fan out there to love about ‘The Sea…’ and that continues in the lyricism.
When diving into Fit For An Autopsy’s lyrics, you all should know what to expect. As let’s just say something tells me that these guys don’t care for greedy corporate officials very much. There is a certain hopelessness that drones on with each word uttered on ‘The Sea…’ and while it can be a little hard to follow or maybe overly metaphoric in a few passages, you can also really tell that Putney and the band have a clear message for everyone who enters into these songs. It matches micro and macro issues together, towing a line between perspectives both personal and political. Eco-systems are dying, society is collapsing, and the ones who have the actual power to steer us off a one-way course for destruction are turning a blind eye – whether consciously or indirectly. (The horribly condescending commentary around climate change and Greta Thunberg of late is all the proof you need to see of this.) In fact, the hulking blaster of ‘No Man Is Without Fear’ speaks directly about many people’s secret desire in wanting CEOs and corrupt politicians to simply die off, with lines like “the blood seeps into our dreams, where we dance on the ashes of our fallen kings” etching their way into our disgruntled, blood-thirsty minds. (Or maybe that’s just me?)
‘Napalm Dreams‘ also dives into that palpable realm of hopelessness; mourning and longing for a new world. It comes armed and heated with gut-wrenching lines like “Eden is a garden of fire, Eden is a funeral pyre,” and “everyone loves you when you’re dead or dying, but the earth owes you nothing; just a hole to die in,” which I honestly feel is one of the most evocative and compelling sets of lyrics from this band to date. While the majority of their fanbase know what they’re going to get with these themes, Fit For An Autopsy has significantly upped up their lyrical game, trading ignorant one-liners and angry outrage for deeper philosophies, honest political sentiments, and eulogy-like monologues that are direr than ever. And it makes their fifth LP all the stronger for it.
‘The Sea of Tragic Beasts’ is an experience that is difficult for me to put into words. However, in words that I can better articulate, this is Fit For An Autopsy’s best work – by far. Everything about this album is stellar, and I just cannot get enough of it. When it comes to this band, I always have high expectations, but this album completely blew me away and dethroned their sophomore LP, ‘Hellbound,’ for my not just my top Fit For An Autopsy release, but also my favorite death metal/deathcore release of all time. A bold statement, I’m aware, but truth be told most of these genres are hot trash nowadays. Yet this new record from FFAA stands tall as a brilliant, confident example of what deathcore (and other melo-death and metalcore) artists can and perhaps even should be striving for; more so than merely recreating the done-a-million-times, Lorna Shore rip-off that every band seems to aim for in 2019 bar a couple of exceptions. ‘The Sea of Tragic Beasts’ boasts powerful song-writing, pure heaviness matched with melodic weight, important worldly messages, and combines everything that we all know and love about Fit For An Autopsy into a staggering, complete whole. This is AOTY worthy and then some!
The Sea of Tragic Beasts
No Man is Without Fear
Your Pain is Mine
Birds of Prey
‘The Sea of Tragic Beasts’ drops October 25th.