New Jersey’s Fit For An Autopsy were my second-to-last live show before the pandemic. For quite a while, I had stopped going to shows at all. Life had taken me in a different direction, and I’d lost my old concert buddies anyway, so what was the point, right? In an exceedingly rare circumstance, an old friend who’d been booking shows to keep our local scene alive for years got an insane tour package to make a stop in my shitty little town in the middle of Florida. Legends of the metal- and deathcore scenes old and new took to the tiny, rickety wooden stage crammed onto the back patio of my old bar haunt and ripped the faces off eighty or so attendees, which was still crowded for the place. Traitors came up from Tampa and blew the show out of the water before it even began, followed by The Agony Scene, then FFAA directly supporting Unearth.
I’ll be honest – I didn’t stay for Unearth. I know, it’s heretical, especially as an old metalcore aficionado, but how the fuck do you top Fit For An Autopsy playing “Black Mammoth” literally right in your face? You don’t, you just don’t. Joe, who is a total sweetheart by the way, sounds even more vicious live (which is fucking hair-raising) and then Will Putney is just there, staring through you as breakdowns barrel down your gullet. They are overwhelming live, as you can probably imagine if you haven’t been blessed to attend yet. It remains one of my best memories of live music in what seems like ages. Time slipping away as it has, I was shocked to realize this show happened in November of 2018, a whole year before The Sea of Tragic Beasts. Wow.
Now I love Fit, but let’s be honest with ourselves here, TSOTB was… not their best work. It was fine, it was passable, it had some good tracks, but mostly it meandered and nothing stuck out quite like their previous releases. You could tell though, when picking through its gems and detritus, there were obvious signs of growing pains. Attempts made at expanding their sound that weren’t fully realized yet, following tributaries out of their comfort zone, some winding successfully to the sea, but most petering out into the muck. Beasts seems now, in hindsight, like a liminal event in Autopsyland. It was a transitional album – a peek at what the future held.
Oh What the Future Holds finds Fit For An Autopsy with a little more patience, finally hitting their veteran stride in their sixth studio album. Tracks are given ample space to come alive in the pensive, bestial way only Fit can paradoxically achieve, instead of constantly clobbering you with The Big Riffs. It’s a commanding, inspired outing, far removed from the languor of their prior work. So what does the future hold for their direction after Beasts, exactly?
Apparently, incorporating some signature sounds from around the metalsphere into their own, becoming the modern metal Megazord in the process. Just listen to the mischievous melodeath riffing of “Pandora” that harkens back to the glory days of The Black Dahlia Murder, or the obvious hat-tip to Gojira on “Far from Heaven”, or the Deftones-tinged intros to “Two Towers” and “The Man That I Was Not”. There are even homages to foundational deathcore flashes-in-the-pan like At The Throne of Judgment sprinkled into tracks like “Collateral Damage”, for those of you who remember Top 8 politics.
Interestingly, none of this detracts from the long-established signature sound of their own. Outside of the obvious borrowings, Will and the gang are on a tear creatively, offering up some of the most complex, progressive, intriguing tracks of their career. That isn’t to say they’ve lost their edge either – quite the contrary. While the absence of huge, formulaic fuck you breakdowns in every song may make some diehards balk, the variety of ways in which Putney instead chooses to sonically maim you is impressive. Then again, did you really expect anything less out of the man whose last album as a primary writer was END, the best -core record of 2020?
Oh What the Future Holds is a revelation, and not just for the band themselves, who are due immense credit for their performance here. It is my opinion, and that of a good handful of staff as well, that we may be witnessing the birth of the new prevailing sound in modern extreme metal. Tech death and deathcore are fully in renaissance, and with a swath of entrenched, old guard bands falling off, who will step up to the plate? Seems obvious to me that the tastemaking producer behind two of the most respected bands of the 2010s (and countless others he had a hand in steering) would take the mantle. Who needs Gojira when Fit does Gojira better, on TOP of everything else? Broad spectrum extreme metal that draws seamlessly from beloved trends past and present and packages them in new, inventive ways will be the dominant force in years to come. Expect to hear chunky deathcore salvos punctuating sultry clean vocals and neoclassical solos erupting from gravity blasts and everything in between. The future holds the next evolution of modern metal, with Fit For An Autopsy as its pioneers.
Oh What the Future Holds is out now on Nuclear Blast.