Sound — 7
I always though it's weird when somebody shifts from playing drums to fronting the band. Usually they hide the most shy and humble people at the very end of the scene behind the drum kit (Tommy Lee doesn't count). It seems like New York post-hardcore band From Autumn To Ashes didn't have another choice after the lead vocalist Benjamin Perri have lost passion and quit. Here's their first attempt with a new singer -- former drummer Francis Mark. Holding a Wolf By Ears, out April 10th on Vagrant Records, is the band's fourth release and the last contracted for a record label, so the band's future depends on the attention it gets. Talking about the album, Mark says When you're holding a wolf by the ears, it's a dangerous situation and there is no way to escape without injury. That pretty much explains the approach the band took working on the record. As if pissed by the departure of the frontman and with an aim to assure people they are a new band now, FATA plays with a passion not heard from them for a long time. Holding a Wolf By Ears present more mature musicians with an increased level of difficulty of song and passages. But to the fans' relieve the band still produce the sound they've been famous for since 2000 -- blending two parts, sensitive melodic and rough hardcore. While the first one sounds almost emo, during the second you feel like at a war with guitars shooting out power chords like machine-guns. The two parts are usually strictly divided and the band kind of switches from one to another, not always doing it smooth. At times the melody features pop hooks, like the chorus of Daylight Slaving. The wall of distorted guitars together with fast pounding drums create the punishing intense of the songs. There's even occasional piano to add melody to the sound. The power force and the creative center of the band Francis Mark admits it's the first time in a while he's felt proud of himself. There's truly something to be proud of -- the band is a lot more diverse technically now than on any of their previous records.
Lyrics — 6
This is not Mark's debut as a lyricist, he wrote most of the lyrics to the previous album as well, when it turned out Perri couldn't produce a single line for the songs. This time the new-born vocalist had more time to work on lyrics and he's been diligently thinking out every line, thus the poetry appears to be more complete. Francis claims that going out and living inspires him to make music, which means Holding a Wolf By Ears is about life. You can tell it even by reading the tracks' titles -- Delusions Of Grandeur, A Goat In Sheep's Rosary or On The Offensive. Though the vocal parts are mostly presented in screamo, sometimes Mark is partly yelling-partly singing, which sounds more interesting. Before the release of the album a lot of fans have been wondering if Mark can scream. He can. And his screaming is not inferior to the ex-frontman, though sometimes it seems he's trying so hard, he can break his voice. To add more sincerity to the songs, Mark speaks in a serious voice during the most peaceful parts.
Overall Impression — 6
I would blame the production here as most songs sound a bit the same and don't go anywhere. Melodic choruses and choral church-like back vocals sometimes sound quite ridiculous along with aggressive verses. Or monotone nasal singing with screamo on the background as another example. From Autumn To Ashes have proved they can survive without Perri, they are still writing and recording, putting out singles and touring. But being honest, I don't see anything in their music that would greatly differ them from a thousand other hardcore bands. The question is -- do we need another band to add to the pile of CDs somewhere at the back of the closet?