Fit For An Autopsy
It seems there’s a new catastrophe hitting the headlines everyday, from corrupt politicians and crooked business people, to criminal mischief and the oppressive renegades within the ranks of those entrusted to protect the people from crime; extreme divides between rich and poor, ideological battles, shrinking resources, the constant threat of war, terror, famine, disease. The problems of the world are every bit as grim, perhaps more so, than during the Cold War, when protest, counterculture, and music from punk to thrash helped give voice to the voiceless.
The crushing music of Fit For An Autopsy is for any fan of extreme metal, as it’s devoid of preachy politics or grandstanding soapboxing, but its sound and fury is absolutely unflinching in purpose. The band expertly blends excessive-force fueled death metal with atmospheric groove and impassioned personal diatribes, reflecting back the dark state of current events. Their fourth album, The Great Collapse, doesn’t waste time with fantasy bullshit or cliché gore horror. Fit For An Autopsy are metal guys, to be certain, but they grew up in the hardcore scene. They embrace the responsibility to put as much devoted purpose into their lyrics and message as they do into their dense, heady, songs, forging a magnificently powerful new post-deathcore.
“When I write a song, I’m trying to feel emotionally connected to it. I really don’t like saying things that don’t matter over music that I want to matter,” says Will Putney, guitarist, principal songwriter and cofounder. “We’ve always addressed serious topics going back to our first album. We aren’t a politically charged band up on a podium yelling at people – anybody can relate to the aggression, anger, frustration, and sadness often communicated in our music. But we absolutely raise important questions in the lyrics. Those themes are there to discover.”
Putney’s fellow guitarist/cofounder, Patrick Sheridan, strongly agrees. He emphasizes that while the music of Fit For An Autopsy may evolve it will always be aggressive and will always have purpose. “We think it's important to carry that torch. Somebody's got to say something about the shit that's going on. If you're not using your music, which is a great platform, for something meaningful that you care about on some level, then you're kind of wasting it.”
The six-men of the New Jersey based group - which includes vocalist Joe Badolato, bassist Peter Spinazola, third guitarist Tim Howley, and drummer Josean Orta - put maximum intentionality into everything they do. They are constantly challenging themselves as musicians, adding to the band’s overall creative arsenal, connecting with audiences around the world, and supporting one another in the band as individual people.
Fit For An Autopsy first summoned one of the most crushing takes on the then-burgeoning deathcore genre with their 2008 demo and the following year’s self-released Hell on Earth EP, which led to a deal with The Red Chord vocalist Guy Kozowyk’s Black Market Activities label.
The Process of Human Extermination earned them a place among the genre’s giants, cementing them as energizing leaders rather than stale followers. As MetalSucks observed: “The band’s brutal, glowering take on [deathcore] reminded [us] of the squandered potential of the genre. Hardcore grooves and swagger, when incorporated correctly, blend quite well with death metal.” Fit For An Autopsy’s determined drive, work ethic, and devilishly unmistakable talent next elicited the attention of Good Fight/eOne, the group’s home since their sophomore album.
On Hellbound, Fit For An Autopsy expanded their commanding approach to death metal with hints of metalcore by absorbing increasingly diverse elements, from the rhythmic experimentalism of Gojira to the aggressive post-Noisecore of Converge, with a dose of the New Wave Of Swedish Death Metal, and a touch of groove unique to the New Jersey six-piece.
The group toured with The Acacia Strain and Within The Ruins on the No Way Out Tour, followed by Hate Across America with Thy Art Is Murder. In 2014, they hit the road with Chimaira, Iwrestledabearonce, and Oceano; with Whitechapel, DevilDriver, Carnifex, and Revocation; with Crowbar; and with Suicide Silence and Thy Art Is Murder. Toward the end of the excitingly productive Hellbound cycle, original frontman Nate Johnson split from the band.
The band’s third album served as the recorded introduction of powerhouse vocalist Badolato, whose impressive range (from guttural growls to pitch screaming and beyond) helped destroy all remaining self-imposed boundaries. It’s something the group’s instrumental members had yearned to do as even as they prepared the material prior to enlisting their new singer.
Absolute Hope Absolute Hell cracked the Top 20 on the Hard Rock Albums chart and hit #3 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. As Putney often noted in interviews, the record stood defiantly apart from those that offered little more than thirty minutes of blast beats and breakdowns.
Sure, that kind of nonstop pummeling has its place, but Fit For An Autopsy concentrated their focus less on crazy tempo changes and more on atmosphere and vibe, keeping one foot in the crushingly heavy while drawing more deeply from traditional metal influences, post-rock, and esoteric nuance. In 2015, the same year as Metal Injection and other tastemakers hailed the group’s progression, Fit For An Autopsy joined the Stronger Than Faith Tour with Suicide Silence, Emmure, and Within The Ruins, followed by a co-headlining tour with Aborted, a trek with Old Wounds, and the Tune Low Die Slow Tour with Acacia Strain and Counterparts.
“Being out there touring, I can say that our fans have been very accepting of each change and progression,” Sheridan notes proudly. “I’m very grateful, as oftentimes bands are scrutinized heavily as they evolve. We definitely took a step in a direction that people were stoked about.”
Putney points to Absolute Hope Absolute Hell as a definitive moment in the band’s career when they truly came into their own. “I like the earlier records a lot but we were definitely lumped in with a lot of similar-sounding bands at the time. I was happy that we were able carve our own path a little bit more on the last album, which we carried into this new album.”
Between Absolute Hope Absolute Hell and The Great Collapse, the group’s members were able to broaden their creative horizons even further with what became known as The Depression Sessions, a uniquely collaborative project that combined Fit For An Autopsy with their friends in Thy Art Is Murder and The Acacia Strain. Jettisoning the cutthroat competitiveness that often gets between bands, the trio of extreme metal acts joined forces for experimental sessions more akin in spirit to the jazz greats and hip-hop artists, but within the context of heavy music.
All of that collaboration and experimentation, to say nothing of Putney’s accomplishments as an in-demand genre producer whose credits include work with both of the bands who joined them in The Depression Sessions, among others, led to an all new focus on The Great Collapse.
“Iron Moon” is an aggressive shot across the bow of the status quo, railing against the mundane servitude of the 9-to-5 grind, yearning for a life of meaning and purpose. It’s as anti-establishment in tone as the album is in sound. Fit For An Autopsy break with genre convention even as they reshape and redefine their chosen sonic landscape. “Heads Will Hang” confronts the worldwide refugee problem, demanding empathy, placing the listener in the shoes of someone displaced from their home, hungry to escape into a safer life. “When the Bulbs Burn Out” expresses the group’s deep concerns about conservation and sustainability. “Black Mammoth” was inspired by the conscientious activism of the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters. Other tracks are more abstract lyrically, but no song on The Great Collapse is without intensity.
The album’s underlying death metal foundation serves as strong support for its more adventurous forays into chaotic hardcore, bits of deathcore, and a meditative, almost droning rumination not unlike the best of shoegaze and desert rock, like a hazy collision between Queens Of The Stone Age and Russian Circles. The omnipresence of rock titans Tool weaves in and out in powerful doses, with The Great Collapse inviting ever more favorable comparisons to Gojira, a band whose evolutionary trajectory is not dissimilar from Fit For An Autopsy’s path.
“It’s definitely easier to make a living as a band by growing your fanbase within one specific style,” notes Putney. “But it's more rewarding to go this route. There’s a certain struggle you face when you’re constantly evolving, obstacles you have to face, but we’re happy to do it.”
Sheridan concurs. “I don't want to sound like any one band or do any one thing. I always want to figure out ways to incorporate new elements that inspire us into what we already do.
“We made a promise when we released our first record, which is that we will never do what somebody else wants us to do as a band. We will always carve our own way.”