Review Summary: Forget what you know about From Autumn To Ashes, as they’ve released the most surprising album of 2007.From Autumn To Ashes
Francis Mark - Lead Vocals
Brian Deneeve - Guitar and vocals
Josh Newton - Bass and vocals
Rob Lauritsen - Guitar
Jeff Gretz - Drums
Produced by Brian McTernan
Original Release Date: April 9, 2007
Label: Vagrant Records
To be short
and not so subtle, this is the best From Autumn To Ashes release on the Vagrant Records label. In my mind From Autumn To Ashe’s first release, Too Bad You’re Beautiful, was in the bed as their best and a classic to the whole melodic metal core scene. It provided a perfect balance of it’s metal core poise with melody and raw emotion on the side. Every release after that seemed like a watered down, artificial aggression of “trying too hard to be tough” and too much of a poppier mainstream sound. To face the facts this just happens to a lot of bands in any genre and when you come out so strong and fierce, it’s really difficult to follow up with the expectations built. “Holding A Wolf By The Ears” is more than just a fresh breathe of air in this band, but it’s a whole new infrastructure. Former lead vocalist Ben Perri departs from the band and drummer Francis Mark takes his place. This was a dagger in my chest being from Long Island and having heart for this band since after all Ben Perri was basically the face of this band and I didn’t even like Francis Mark’s previous bulimic geek sounding melodies. If you didn’t like Francis Mark’s previous work on vocals before hand like I didn’t, trust me… and give this a second chance. "I want to do everything I can to get people to realize that this is really like a new band," says Francis Mark, lead vocalist. He did exactly just that and more by taking everything was solid gold from “Too Bad You’re Beautiful” and combining more complex melodies and harmonies. Allow me to explain…
Holding A Wolf By The Ears
As soon as the vocals draw in you can see a new dimension into Francis Mark’s vocal attack. As he doesn’t have the throaty, heavy, scream of Ben he creates a frantic, panic like scream which I could compare to the A Static Lullaby screamer in there older stuff. “Deth Kult Social Club” kicks the listener in the side of the head with it’s pounding double bass and palm muted guitar which flows into a pop-punk like chorus. The singing from Francis Mark has clearly improved which feels even more substantial since I didn’t even like his singing in the first place. His screaming levels the playing field and is a righteous replacement but doesn’t feel like a replacement as much as it’s a whole new band. The band still continues to mix it’s heavy versing with poppier melodic choruses and does it extremely well. “On The Offense” does exactly what the title says. It puts the band up a notch and creates an even faster and heavier song then “Deth Kult”. The band doesn’t really progress that much from the previous song in structure but it gives reassurance that this is a whole new band and even more shockingly having Francis Mark screaming throughout. I didn’t expect him to scream half as much as he did on this album, and it really made for a pleasant surprise.
The guitar work “On The Offense” feels like it was stepped up from the previous song having a more aggressive approach. It makes for an overall nice listen throughout.
“Recounts and Recollections” is one of my favorite songs on this album. Right from the slide off on the guitar, the riff winds and twirls around the listeners head almost creating an instant head bang (it’s hard not too). The screaming just flows with the music more elegantly than ever. The song feels harder then the other songs and really a lot harder then most of the previous albums up until the first one. The singing vocals are catchy, and mesh well with the music. They don’t feel like the band wanted to sing in random positions and scream to appease a scene like many other bands. It creates for a great emotional energy. The song continues to come back to the introduction guitar riff and it’s probably one of the best on the album. That is a good enough reason for me to use it over and over. “Daylight Slaving” is where the album gets led down on a different pathway. The song is slower and much more focused on it’s buildup and climax then pummeling the listener down. As the song changes the vibe of the album pretty drastically, the song proves in it’s pre-chorus that this band has become so much more catchy on it’s poppier side then in previous releases. The way the song builds up is tapering on the borderline of throaty screams and melodic singing. The song within it’s first minutes kind of bounces back and fourth but soon becomes certain during it’s climax. “Delusions Of Grand Evil” continues down this “melodic pop” path and does a good job filling the voids. The best part I’d have to say is the use of the raw emotion in the choruses and the catchiness of them. The whole song in it’s own is catchy but the way the chorus is sung proves to me that this is a whole new band now, or just a much more matured one. The song feels so much more relateful with raw energy instead of unbelievable amounts of mainstream pop.
“Sensory Deprivation Adventure” brings it all back in though. It goes back to the same song construction of the first two songs of the album where it just hits you upside the head during the verses and goes melody in the chorus. This is a perfect song to lead in with after hearing “Daylight Slaving” and “Delusions of Grand Evil”. The chorus and melodic vocals in this song tend to remind me of the bulimic vegan vocals of Francis Mark in the previous albums which kinds of turn me off on this song but it’s not even half as bad as they used to be. “Everything I Need” continues to a much harder and deeper path of the band which reminds me of “Too Bad You’re Beautiful” days. The introduction of the song reminds me of old Underoath for some reason it’s it musicianship. The song winds up and down with it’s octave chords but draws the listener in well. MY FAVORITE PART OF THIS WHOLE ALBUM IS THE TREMELO PICKING DURING THE INTERLUDE. It feels so appropriate and fit’s so well and just makes me have simply an orgasm every time I hear it. Ugh…
So I digress… “Underpass Tutorial” is a strong song off of this album if you’re a fan of old From Autumn To Ashes and are curious about the new line up. This song is the strongest representation of the new vocals that come from Francis Mark. Fierce, Fast, and Frantic
during his screaming verses which feel borderline to him having a panic attack. Even more so it feels during this song as it almost feels like he’s “blitzed out” of his mind. Then somehow he feels so poised and harmonious in the chorus. It makes for a very good recommendation song for anyone who’s never heard the album. “Love It Or Left It” is another harder, metal-like song. It feels good enough to say that each song off of this album doesn’t really blend into each other but more have true individuality which is not so much I can say on a lot of other albums.
“Travel” has a nice little bass introduction. It’s basically the only few limited times that you’ll hear the bass, so savor it. The song is fast paced and forces the listener to hang on tight. I feel like this song would have more justice in a live setting with it’s fast picked guitar work and overall fast tempo. The interlude of this song feels extraordinary climatic with the piano, and clean picked guitar. There are many nice touches and hooks throughout the album. “A Goats In Sheep’s Rosary” is the most random song on the album. It has metal styling drumming and what feels to be an “Underoath” keyboard like mood to it, with a different style of screaming. The singing with the piano during the second verse feels like one of his better performances on the album and the screaming is up to par. The conclusion of this song feels righteous in its path with its piano and talking. The conclusion of this album though, is fantastic. “Pioneers” is the first single off of this album and is a great conclusion. It is directed to the mainstream but is a very strong song on it’s emotional drawing. The video for this song is very good as well. The song has a lot of pop-punk vibes in it but the song is totally bought me over in it’s chorus. The way it’s sung is the most beautiful and catchy thing that has graced my ear’s in months. It’s a good way to as well describe the whole album…
On The Offense = FATA
I lost all faith in this band as Ben left it. I didn’t think they could survive no matter what. I figured this band would have gone all soft but if anything, they proved that they could go back to the basics and that’s just what they did while adding a whole new dimension of this band. The band itself has grown tremendously in musicianship and as they don’t really bring much to recreating the genre you can tell from previous releases that the song structure, and choice of instruments have grown a lot more complex. Francis Mark writes about all the things the band has been through, and most importantly the lyrics aren’t cliché-ridden and cringe worthy. Without a doubt this album shocked me in ways that are probably equivalent to seeing my parents naked or something. Well maybe that didn’t come out exactly right, but the newest release “Holding A Wolf By The Ears” has done so many things right and has guaranteed a molding in my listening rotation for probably the next year or so.
+ New Vocal Structure
+ Lasting Value
+ Maturity within the band
+ Fast and Catchy
- Many will not like that Francis isn’t as throaty as Ben was.
- Minor irritations on the melodies