Artist: Fit For an Autopsy
Album: Absolute Hope Absolute Hell
Humans are capable of extraordinary things when placed in extraordinary situations. From moments of desperation and hopelessness come outstanding testaments towards the strength of the human spirit. However, even In spite of the resiliency of men and women placed under the more intense pressures, there are times where hope simply isn’t enough—and all the positive energy in the world won’t overcome suffocating, soul-smothering despair; such is the force of Fit for an Autopsy’s third full length release, Absolute Hope, Absolute Hell. The very sound of murk and filth, refined with a lustrous, polished death-metal sheen, this sinister sextet oppress every ounce of hope left in the human spirit, crushing positivity with pure evil in the form of eviscerating blast beats, skin-shredding riffs and bone-cracking breakdowns that, while effectively eliminating any evidence of happiness in the listener, also sees the band struggling to live up to their own reputation.
Instrumentally, Fit for an Autopsy have always included copious amounts of shred-friendly death metal into their backbone of brutalizing –core instrumentation. Absolute Hope Absolute Hell continues the expansion of traditionally metallic instrumentation into Fit for an Autopsy’s sound, with tracks like the album’s title track or “Storm Drains” favoring slam-tinted, blast-beat driven moments of heaviness over more straightforward displays of chug-fueled aggression. While this might be an off putting statement for some, it’s a grand testament to the abilities of the band’s musicians. Drummer JoseanOrta leads a percussive onslaught on every track, with insane speed defining “Wither” and “Saltwound,” and fill-heavy patterns making “Murder in the First” a catchy, crushing and album-defining anthem. Bassist Shane Slade is right there alongside Orta when it comes to bouncy, bold grooves and murky, sludgy tone. Slade’s slithering, snappy bass makes every smack of Orta’s kick drum infinitely more abysmal, forming a quick—if not rudimentary—low end for the band’s guitarists to work from. Breaking tradition by attacking with a three-headed, carnivorous hydra of furious fretwork, guitarists TimHowley, Will Putney and Patrick Sheridan work wonders throughout Absolute Hope Absolute Hell. Where tracks like the album opener are riff-friendly and lacerating, some of the album’s closing tracks favor a calculated syncope of spine-shrinking chugs, giving “Mask Maker,” “Murder in the First” and “Swing the Axe” breakdowns that will satisfy the band’s diehard following. Fit for an Autopsy follow a gradient that begins with erratic, energetic instrumentation and ends with brooding, dark and gloomy musicianship to give their third studio album a narrative, making it easier to digest for those just beginning their foray into heavier music.
Vocally, Fit for an Autopsy find a middle ground between their metallic and “core” sounds that meets with mixed success. While no doubt talented, frontman Joe Badolatorelies heavily on grisly mid-range yells and only rarely diving into tremendous lows and screeching screams to accentuate his morose and malevolent lyrical themes. Given evidence throughout the band’s release that Badolato can indeed stray into a variety of ranges, it is somewhat disappointing that he doesn’t do so more often—especially as his predecessor in the Fit for an Autopsy continuum was a veritable vocal wrecking ball when it came to diversity. All the same, it seems unfair to compare Badolato to previous members of the band, especially as his efforts on Absolute Hope Absolute Hell certainly get the job done. His catchy barks on “Murder in the First” are excellent, as are his drawn out, despair-laden shouts on “Storm Drain.” Where he may lose points for dynamism, he gains them right back for endurance and power, as he dominates the entire album with a steady candor and a relentless roar that keeps the listener’s ears wrenched open.
Overall, Fit for an Autopsy have created a solid album—but nothing far beyond that. Where some moments of Absolute Hope Absolute Hell (“Murder in the First,” “Saltwound,” “Mask Maker” and “Swing the Axe” chief among them) are memorable, a majority of it simply is. With the opening salvo of tracks styled to try and please both metalheads and scenesterspinkickers alike, and the ending relying on brutalizing breakdowns to make a point, the album seems to show Fit for an Autopsy attempting to please everyone, and instead pleasing some for only parts of the release. With an opening that is lackluster to a tee and an ending that is powerful, punishing and prominent, Absolute Hope Absolute Hell is an album that gets stronger as the album progresses, but still struggles immensely to get itself “off the ground.” Somewhere between stretches of songs that try to blend genres in a bland, lethargic manner and vocal pushes into stutter-start breakdowns that sound remarkably similar to Thy Art is Murder’s Hate, the listener’s choices are limited to absolutely hoping that Fit for an Autopsy’s latest release doesn’t condemn their future to an absolute Hell of mediocrity.
For Fans Of: Thy Art is Murder, Carnifex, Beyond Creation, Whitechapel
By: Connor Welsh