From Autumn To Ashes – Holding A Wolf By The Ears
Release Date: April 10, 2007
Record Label: Vagrant
The other day I was blasting Holding A Wolf By The Ears, From Autumn To Ashes’ latest album, when one of my friends stopped by my room to ask me what I was listening to. After I told him who it was, a look of confusion crept across his face as he asked; “They’re still a band?” Well, with all the drama that had occurred inside From Autumn To Ashes camp over the past few years, it’s hard to believe they’re still a band.
Ben Perri was the front man of the band on their first three albums, meshing his deep screams with drummer Fran Mark’s frantic pitch. But in 2005, before the release of the disastrous Abandon Your Friends, Perri literally did what the title suggests, separating himself from his band mates, as he developed a lack of passion in his work and failed to deliver lyrics for the album, leaving Mark to rush out some lyrics. The tension of that recording experience could somewhat explain why Abandon was so horrid, but with Perri out of the band now and Mark assuming the front man role, FATA has released their best album to date, hoping it’ll be the album that’ll resurrect their career.
Produced by Brian McTernan, all twelve tracks on Holding A Wolf By The Ears are fast and in your face, never giving you a chance to catch your breath. Mark is three times the front man Perri was, as his mixture of frantic screams and high wailing create a nice counterbalance throughout the album. Musically, they’ve progressed from previous albums, as FATA as opted out of using the typical chug-chug breakdowns of the past and instead rely on brutally assaulting your ears with pummeling drumming from Mark and sick riffs from guitarist Brian Deneeve. The album opener “Deth Kult Social Club” and “On The Offensive” are very aggressive, while “Daylight Slaving” features a furious breakdown. “Sensory Deprivation Adventure” recalls the gloomy state of mind Mark had during the past few years. Vocally, Mark screams like a he is on his way to the asylum, giving an energy and passion that had been severely lacking while Perri was in the band.
Beginning to the noise of something being cranked up, “Underpass Tutorial” grabs you by the throat and never lets go, as Deneeve and bassist Josh Newton are unforgiving with his guitar work. The first single (which also happens to be the album’s closer), “Pioneers,” is a riveting rocker, with a guitar riff that needles into your membrane as Mark urgently sings the final lyrics of the album. While the lyrics on the album aren’t the most poetic or deepest of lyrics, Mark writes about all the crap he and the band has been through, and most importantly the lyrics aren’t cliché-ridden and cringe worthy.
The most impressive aspect of Holding A Wolf By The Ears is how well FATA blends melody with aggression. The flow of the album is very consistent, largely due to the fact that FATA never slows down any of the tracks. What the album suffers from, though, is the fact that some of the songs tend to run together, but while the lack of diversity is evident, it doesn’t necessarily take away from the overall enjoyment of the listening experience.
The majority of us know that From Autumn To Ashes are not recreating the wheel with this release. But in a scene over saturated with Myspace flavors of the week, Holding A Wolf By The Ears breathes new energy in a stagnant genre. Forget what you know about From Autumn To Ashes, as they’ve released the most surprising album of 2007.
That's a really good review and I agree with your sentiments completely.
Like many i'd written FATA off after their disastrous previous two albums and was actually almost as surprised as your friend when I found out they were still together and putting out a fourth album. But when it came down to listening to this I was pretty amazed at how they've managed to turn it around.
I was equally a bit worried and surprised to hear that the drummer who previously did the relatively "whiny" melodic vocals was taking over as front man but he has actually done a superb job.
I'd even go as far as to agree with you that this is the best FATA album to date. I'm sure there will be people that prefer the heavier Too Bad You're Beautiful from back in the day but I definitely think this is every bit as good just in a different style.
I'd definitely suggest that everyone that had written this band off give this a try as you will be surprised one way or another and chances are it will be in a good way.
One thing i'm curious about Drew is that your score seems a tad low? At least compared to the Haste The Day review I just read which actually ranks their worst effort to date above this...