From Autumn To Ashes

From Autumn To Ashes

The Fiction We Live


A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to catch From Autum To Ashes (FATA) in concert, touring in support of their brand new full-length The Fiction We Live (which had yet to be released at the time). After tremendous opening sets from Funeral For A Friend (look out for these guys), Everytime I Die and Cave In (who delivered a breathtaking performance that found them finally revisiting their hard-rocking metalcore roots), FATA took to the stage and managed to shake what little was left of Lupos to its very foundation. Frontman Ben Perri tore up the stage with a commanding stage presence accompanied by his trademark barked/growled vocals, and the band churned out song after song of mostly older material, carefully choosing the more metal-oriented of their repertoire.

Perhaps the most important element of any hardcore-spawned rock show is the energy of the crowd and their willingness to participate. FATA scored big points in that category, with the crowd’s anthemic echoes (“I felt you slip away!”) often drowning out Perri’s own voice, pumping sweaty fists violently to every beat of every song — except the new ones, of course, which few people seemed to know. Actually, come to think of it, they didn’t play many new songs at all. Which left me to wonder, what does the new stuff sound like, and why aren’t they playing much of it? Could it be..? Is it not hardcore enough for a hardcore show? Is this the same reason Cave In only played two songs from their new disc? I picked up the album at the merch table after the show, hoping that The Fiction We Live doesn’t suck as badly as Antenna does…

Luckily, it doesn’t.

In fact, it turns out that The Fiction We Live is actually really good. Maybe not quite as great as their last album, but to top that would have been quite a feat. It’s very good nonetheless, and a thousand times better than any of the newcomers copping the same sort of sound in this increasingly overcrowded segment of the music industry. Is it still screamo? Uh, sort of. I mean, yeah, definitely. C’mon, FATA hasn’t “sold out” — this is Vagrant after all, not RCA. Right? (wink wink, nudge nudge). Right!

Although definitely more melody-centric than the band’s first LP and featuring much more heart-wrenching singing work from drummer/vocalist Fran Mark (most notably on “No Trivia” — if Mark ever grows tired of drumming for FATA he’s guaranteed a lucrative career ahead of him in Dashboard-esque emo), The Fiction We Live certainly has the requisite amount of metalcore ferocity for the casual fan. Perri’s growls are still very prominent in the mix, although toned down slightly from last time around, and he once again proves himself to be one of the best hardcore vocalists, head and shoulders above the competition. Their coupling here, on tracks such as “Lilacs and Lolita,” showcases the undeniable chemistry in delivery trade-off between the two vocalists, which is one of the most visible things that differentiates these guys from the rest of the crowd. No one else in the genre pulls this trick off with such synergy as FATA, and they seem to get better and better at it with time.

Of course, there’s a lot more to a band like this than well-executed vocals. And their instrument-wielding comrades deliver as expected: the guitars are sharp and intertwine beautifully as before, with cleaner production and more polish, and the rhythm section continues to be volatile and brutal enough to remain true to their hardcore heritage. The musicianship on this album demonstrates FATA’s talent to mix inventiveness and complexity with just the right amount of melody and accessibility. Not an easy thing to pull off, and even more difficult to translate well into a live show, but the boys do it without blinking a tear-stained eyelash.

The Fiction We Live is a solid album that finds FATA fine-tuning their sound, tweaking it to perfection, but at the same time removing some of the subtle nuances that made me fall head-over-heels in love with its predecessor. By streamlining their sound a little for this effort, they’ve grown tighter as a band and expanded their commercial viability, but at the cost of some of the quirkiness and raw intensity that made Too Bad You’re Beautiful so breathtaking. Nothing here is nearly as desperate and fatalistic as “Chloroform Perfume” or as brutally dynamic and utterly crushing as “Royal Crown Vs Blue Duchess” or “Reflections” (although “Milligram Smile” achieves a closer approximation than most), but songs like “All I Taste Is What’s Her Name,” “The After Dinner Payback” and “I’m The Best At Ruining My Life” are good in their own right, in different ways — powerful anthemic rockers that I’m looking forward to singing along with at their next show.

Diehard fans will doubtlessly claim that FATA has gone soft, and maybe to a certain extent it’s true. But The Fiction We Live is a great listen and a decent follow-up to one of the best albums the screamo scene has produced to date.

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