Review Summary: The world is cold and empty.
About two and a half years ago I sat down to review what would become my 2017 album of the year. Fit for an Autopsy’s The Great Collapse
was a beautifully tragic deathcore album that became a breath of fresh air into a scene that was starting to fall to stagnancy. Redundant as it may sound, over the years deathcore continuously has been in need of that exact fresh breath. In the year 2019, what Fit for an Autopsy did in the deathcore scene has not gone unnoticed. Bands have been taking a page out of their book by incorporating more clean sounds whether that is in the guitar or the vocals and adding a sad atmosphere to their records. This is all well and good but where does this leave Fit for an Autopsy?
The Sea of Tragic Beasts
shares so many of the characteristics that made The Great Collapse
amazing. Will Putney, the band’s guitarist, and in-house genius producer, once again knocked it out of the park. Putney’s hand in creating some of the most hard-hitting heavy music in the metalcore/deathcore scene is very impressive. He knows exactly how to make every inherent element of -core music sound unapologetically incredible. Chunky and full guitar tones and earth-shattering drum hits fill the majority of The Sea of Tragic Beasts
. Each instrument stands out perfectly and sounds are easily discernible in the mix. The low tones on the album rumble the listener’s ears in a way that doesn’t overshadow the crisp and clean higher tones. Josean Orta’s hard-hitting drumming is one of the highlights of the record. His fills add a flare to every section of the record, as he is constantly switching up the drum beats to keep it interesting. Every beat and hit feels meticulously placed making it obvious that Josean knows what he’s doing in every situation. The hardcore-esque beat leading into the verse of “Shepherd” is just one of the small touches that are strewn throughout the tracklist that prove Mr. Orta won’t fall into the generic territory of incessant blast beating.
The guitar work has improved in a lot of places on The Sea of Tragic Beasts
. There is an increase in technical riffing throughout this record that replaces a lot of the omnipresent atmospheric grooves throughout The Great Collapse
(“Shepherd,” “Bird of Prey”). It is one of the things that set this album apart from their previous effort, as The Great Collapse
was very atmosphere focused. Not that there is a lack of any of that atmosphere with this album. Lead single, “Mirrors,” opens with almost 2 minutes of slow and trudging riffs with Joe Badolato’s haunting pitched screams taking the lead. The following track, “Unloved,” is a slow and menacing song that climaxes with a crushing and to the point breakdown. This is something that Fit for an Autopsy does incredibly well and has for a good while now. Breakdowns can become massively redundant, but the band perfectly places them, demonstrating their impeccable songwriting talent. They aren’t just thrown in for the hell of it. They are accompanied by great lyrics and emotional deliveries that justify the angry nature of a breakdown.
The star of the show here (besides Putney on the production, that man is unmatched) is Joe Badolato. Joe has brought a dynamic to this band that helped further their career in ways that weren’t imaginable a few years ago and helping immensely with their evolution of sound. Joe’s pitched screams, which are all over this album, are hauntingly beautiful as they were on the last record (hi, Black Mammoth). That being said, this has not taken the focus off of his harsh vocal ability whatsoever. He sprinkles a lot more high screams into this record than have been utilized in previous efforts, most notably paired with the blisteringly driving riff in the verse of “Shepherd.” And his mid to low range growl is as powerful as ever. Joe’s ability to convey his passion and emotion for what he is singing through not only his vocal melodies but his scream is something that baffles me as to why he isn’t in the same conversation as the likes of Sam Carter. The frankly sad and angry lyrics about the state of the world, whether that be politically or physically, pair perfectly with every aspect of Badolato’s gut-wrenching delivery.
It is always hard for a band to follow up on what most consider to be their magnum opus, but I believe that the guys in Fit for an Autopsy absolutely crushed the expectations. It has been hard for me to separate myself from the masterpiece that was The Great Collapse
, and to see this album with fresh eyes, but with each new listen, it becomes more and more apparent that The Sea of Tragic Beasts
is just as amazing as The Great Collapse
. Everything that was done right on that album is done just as well here and more: The atypical but gripping drum work, the technical riffage, the perfectly executed breakdowns, the standout vocal ability, the unmistakably heavy production, the brooding atmosphere... Even the emotion that was present on The Great Collapse
is perfectly matched with each lyric and every vocal delivery. If their previous album didn’t, The Sea of Tragic Beasts
will solidify Fit for an Autopsy as a staple in the realm of extreme metal for years to come.