Despite a revolving door of vocalists, New Jersey’s Fit For An Autopsy, have been around since 2008 and have managed to generate a lot of positive ‘buzz’ (I think that’s the lexicon the youth of today use?) during their tenure and their 4 album back catalogue. This, their latest release is their debut for heavy metal behemoth Nuclear Blast, and as such the band would feel that they are poised on the brink of greatness once the metal giant’s mighty PR machine swings into action. And you can see why a label the size of Nuclear Blast has signed the US group into its roster. This all feels very……now….very on point….very (gulp) in vogue. Now it would be ridiculous to start lambasting a record company for signing a band that they think will sell t-shirts, gigs (maybe albums but that’s not worth a piss in the ocean these days) and help further deliver the corporate Nuclear Blast brand globally. Why the fuck would you even begin to deep dive the machinations behind the rationale of signing a band such as FFAA. It will make them money; it will propel the brand and hopefully launch the band members into the big leagues and onto relative fame and fortune.

And it’s not as though the music on here isn’t decent. It is…if you like this sort of thing (which I do to be completely transparent) …. it’s the dictionary definition, the very blueprint for metalcore/post-metalcore/deathcore…..whatever you want to call it. Now this scene (for it is a very definite scene) has been ridiculed in some quarters to its adherence to a very stylistic and often slightly theatrical approach, taking the best bits of thrash and death metal and melding them into a breakdown heavy, heavy slow riffing that syncopates with the barrage of double bass drums and a screamed vocal delivery that often segues into lighter and softer passages before roaring back into metal mayhem. It’s not for everyone certainly and bands like FFAA genre buddies Suicide Silence, Atreyu, Thy Art Is Murder and Whitechapel have as many detractors as they do actual fans. And I can see the point here, the ‘metalcore’ scene can often be very derivative, samey and boring and gigs full of arms folded ‘impress me motherfuckers’, often at the gig to be seen rather than to see…if that makes sense?

Now what FFAA have done here on their new album is certainly broadened and expanded their sound and taking it forward based on their previous back catalogue. It still employs all the genre tropes of breakdowns etc, but it seems to have elevated itself into slightly more melodic areas with actual singing that wouldn’t be out of place on more chart bothering releases (a harder, heavier Linkin Park???)…but it’s certainly dialled back on the heaviest aspects and sounds more considered and a possible move to distance themselves for the chasing pack? It seemed to work for Bullet For My Valentine before they went full on pop and alienated their existing metal audience and replaced them with Pop/Rock fans. Conspiracy theories aside, the playing here is exemplary, the production is big, juicy and edifying and the songs over the course of the album, start at 1000MPH and gradually slow as the album progresses before ending on the magnificently titled ‘Napalm Dreams’ which couldn’t be more different from 99.9% of their previous output. Not saying it sticks out like a sore thumb, but it certainly signposts where this album is going and the general direction of the band themselves.

(7/10 Nick Griffiths)