Fit for An Autopsy are no strangers to being absurdly heavy. Their last album, Hellbound, could arguably be named one of the best deathcore releases of 2013 as well as one of the best albums the genre has to offer. Song after song assaulted the listener with every weapon at the bands disposal without even letting up for a moment. Not to mention, it did all of this while being catchy as hell. With an album of that caliber under their collective belt, one can’t help but wonder how the band could hope to top it. Well, that answer is here in the form of their latest release, Absolute Hope Absolute Hell.
The title track, which also serves as the album opener, is a great pick for easing people into the record while at the same time presenting the intensity of the albums writing and it’s lyrical content. This is the song that will get you hooked, but when you hear the rest you’ll understand why they put it at the very front. The gradual introduction of all the bands elements is what allows this ease to exist. You get the eerie guitar tapped intro, followed by vocals, then drums/rhythm guitar/bass. After everyone is introduced, they begin to paint a picture of a nation engulfed in apathy and greed to the point that it’s people are watching the nation collectively commit suicide. It’s a grim and foreboding message that’s illustrated through building the song up just to push it over the edge and watch it spin mid-air before it crashes and burns into the ground, all while falling to the soundtrack of tremolo picked dissonance in the background and clean guitar that doesn’t sounds just off enough to make your skin crawl. Then, you’re greeted by one of this records numerous quotables: “Put me in the fucking ground.”
‘Wither’ lets you have it immediately, wasting no time with furious chugs and drum hits that make you want to get up and throw down regardless of your surroundings. The guitars also play with groove at multiple points in this song, which is one of a few things that guitarist and master-producer/mixer/engineer Will Putney said he was experimenting with in the writing for this release. It’s a nice addition that somehow makes the music even more catchy than it was on Hellbound. This song also has one of the best breakdowns on the record thanks to the use of vicious pick-scrapes. ‘Absolute Hope Absolute Hell’ is the warm shower to the cold bucket of water that is ‘Wither’, which is good, because now your heart is pumping and you’re ready for the record to really come at you with all it’s got.
Song after song, it becomes readily apparent how the band intended to top their last record. They started fine-tuning everything that made them heavy in the first place and added flourishes where they needed to. It’s not about showing off, so much as it is improving and locking into their sound. Fit for An Autopsy isn’t doing things that bands in their genre haven’t done before, but they’re doing it better and with a deeper pool of influences than many of their counterparts. You won’t hear about Thy Art Is Murder trying to incorporate elements of post-rock into their music anytime soon, but here, songs such as ‘Ghosts in the River’ and ‘Out to Sea’ use post-rock style buildups and ambiance alongside punishing breakdowns to make for a sound that is more developed and nuanced. The post-rock influences could be a bit more prevalent throughout the record instead of really starting at the halfway point of the album, but that’s a mild complaint.
Whether you’re listening to the Gojira style pick-scrape filled ‘Saltwound’, the unforgiving onslaught that is ‘Hollow Shell’ or the post-rock tinged closer ‘Swing the Axe’, you’ll be hearing the band’s ace in the hole for this album. That ace being newly recruited vocalist Joe Badolato, who is the undeniable MVP of this record. Hellbound had plenty of memorable lyrics and vocal lines, but Badolato knocks it out of the park all the way through Absolute Hope Absolute Hell. I thought I might feel a slight twinge of loss after Nate Johnson left the band, but Badolato leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. His performance and lyricism seem to hit all the right spots with unbelievable levels of accuracy. With his introduction, we get to see someone who has a very unique voice and message finally get the platform he needs to express his thoughts and feelings. There’s no need to lay every single line out here as they really need to be experienced in context, just know that this album will have you going back and listening to tracks just to hear a particular vocal line and how it meshes with the music underneath. Also, the vocals sit in a very nice place in the mix so you can hear everything fairly clearly, aside from a few lines that you’ll have to take a gander at the lyric booklet for.
For as filthy as this record is, it clearly was mixed using care and a keen ear. Then again, what do you expect from a band that has Will Putney in it? Production should be expected to be on point. Maybe even better than that! With crisp drums, full sounding guitars and powerful bass, it lives up to his standards without question.
As a package, Absolute Hope Absolute Hell really does seem to have it all. Killer quotables, catchy, well performed songs with high production value and a pool of influence that keeps the music from sounding stale and forgettable. It’s the logical next step for a band that seemed to be almost as heavy as you could be without crushing yourself. This is a record you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again, but you won’t mind because it will be worth it every single time.
Fit For An Autopsy’s Absolute Hope Absolute Hell gets…