Much like the vinyl review, this is the first of many new release Friday reviews. These posts may vary in length, mostly depending on my level of familiarity with the band/artist. In the case of this review, I have never listened to Fit For An Autopsy before, so this won’t be too in depth. Whereas the new Mastodon album on 3/31 will be much longer, as I have listened to them for many years. Mostly these will be a simple listen through the album and my impressions with the music and lyrics. I hope to also branch out a bit and listen to new artists that I haven’t heard before. If a particular review is too short, I might do two in one week, depending on how life goes. I haven’t decided if I will do any type of rating system yet. I would rather people read how I feel than just look for the “_/5” score, but that could change, as all things do in time.
Brutal Music, With a Point
This album slams. Hard. Having no experience with FFAA before, I can assure you this album has convinced me to check out their back-catalog. If you want nine tracks of just straight headbanging, put this on, head to the gym and pick up the heaviest weights there. It isn’t something I see myself listening to once a week, or maybe even once a month, but a few of these songs will end up on a “I Just Want To Rage And Break Shit” playlist.
My first exposure to this album was the video for the song “Black Mammoth”. I knew it would be an interesting album simply because of the chosen imagery for this song. Choosing to make this song about the dangers of oil retrieval and the suffering of Native Americans because of this is, unfortunately, polarizing, but honestly made me want to listen to the rest of the album. Clearly they had a message, and metal (and almost all sub genres therein) is the best way to deliver a message. If something gets you fired up, scream about it from the bowels of your lungs while guitars, bass, and drums destroy the air space around you. The music was very good for single purposes. It was catchy where it needed to be, but also heavy and anthem-ic to keep you banging your head.
So when the album came out this past Friday, I debated whether I wanted to have this be my first review. I wasn’t familiar with the band at all, but it was the biggest release I knew of and I had enjoyed the single. I took a chance and played the album on a drive and heard all but the last song in one go. I was overall impressed by the content and pace of it. It for sure is a headbanger. There are a few slow sections, but they are nicely spaced and don’t fall into any sort of formulaic system. My favorite song ended up being the last song on the album, “Spiral”. I thought it did a great job of capturing all of the high points on the other songs and wrapped up the album nicely.
At first I was not impressed by the sound on the album. I was bummed that I seemed to be missing some of the lead guitar parts, as they were drowned out by mids or distortion, I couldn’t quite tell. In my car I wasn’t able to really nail the culprit for this. I assumed it was poor mixing, as in the mids were just too high in the mix. It would explain why the bass guitar wasn’t really coming through either. However, I knew that my car speakers were not the place to accurately judge this, and I was right. My second listen through on my receiver and speakers was much better in this regard. There were times where the double bass drumming kind of blocked a lot of the other instruments, but everything else seemed to be coming through nicely. I also wasn’t in love with the tone of the bass guitar. It has that almost typical “down-tuned metallic” sound to it on a few tracks, which I’m not a huge fan of, but I realize is the product of being down tuned, so I won’t fault them too much for it.
The music was good, if pretty straightforward. I can’t speak to the progression of the band, not having listened to their previous releases, but it it didn’t seem to push any bounds from the current scene. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you just need to stick with what you’re good at, and they are clearly good at deathcore. The few slow sections I mentioned before were well placed. They didn’t seem forced or unnatural. They executed them well. In fact, my favorite track, “Spiral”, had an entire section of more ambient guitars, distant vocals, and space, which I think speaks to their ability to use those elements effectively. I think my biggest complaint, if it can be called that (maybe wish, but that seems a little dramatic), is a lack of solos. Again, this could be lack of knowledge of the band, but I would have loved a solo or two on the album. Right after a massive breakdown, or coming out of a slow section. There is a slight one on “Iron Moon”, that had potential. The lead had a really great build up and could’ve just shredded through something once it peaked. I was ready to air guitar all over the road and be a hazard when I first heard that riff, but had to settle for windmilling instead (and being just as big a hazard).
Lyrically, I got what I thought I would after listening to “Black Mammoth”. Social, political, and environmental commentary, all of which is very welcome. I can’t imagine they believe that all their fans will agree with everything they said, but the fact that their fans will listen to the album and think about these things are what the band wants. You could just throw the album on and thrash about, or go to one of their shows and circle pit the whole time. However, if you want to shout the lyrics along with them, you’re going to look them up and read them, and inevitably think about what they are saying. It’s the first step to civil discourse, and music is a great bridge for that. Art generally is. Some lyrics that stuck out to me were:
“Peace is merely a gift for the privileged, safeguarded from the pain.” – Heads Will Hang
“The Earth will swallow all that it can, until it finally reclaims the hell we create.” – Terraform
“There’s nowhere to stay, that doesn’t bear the scars of yesterday.” – Spiral
Having thought-provoking lyrics behind brutal music isn’t a new concept, it’s partly why the punk, hardcore, and metal scenes were formed. Those artists had a lot to say that the world didn’t want to hear. FFAA have given the world their thoughts, and it’s a warning to a world they see heading straight for a great collapse.