From Autumn to Ashes - The Fiction We Live (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

From Autumn to Ashes

The Fiction We Live (2003)


Nowadays, there seems to be more and more bands doing the screamy-guy-crying-guy thing. But it seems like none has been as celebrated or derided as Long Island's From Autumn to Ashes. Their debut, Too Bad You're Beautiful was a tolerable record, though sometimes it seemed to me that the "bipolar band gimick" was more important that the songwriting.

On the other hand, their newest record "The Fiction We Live is far more promising. In some ways, the transitions are still difficult and the band still lurches from metalcore to emotional hard rock far too obviously. But, in spite of this, the songs on this record surprised me.

(Actually, what surprised me more was seeing this record released on Vagrant; a label which has taken it's share of chances, but has had pretty consistent success with gentler, college radio friendly fare. Of course, in many ways, while the band doesn't share an aesthetic similarity with bands like Dashboard Confessional or Saves The Day, they certainly tread heavily in the same lyrically self-pitying and self-depreciating place.)

The first track "The After Dinner Payback" was a unexpected opening. Blasting straight into Benjamin Perri's growled vocals, accompanied by a double-kick barrage of straight up heaviness. Drummer and "singing" vocalist, Francis Mark dips into the song briefly but unlike some of the older material, the contrast is effective. In many ways, the band succeeds admirably in the heavier parts of the record.

While Perri performs strongly throughout the record, Mark's singing is more erratic. On certain tracks, like the first single "Milligram Smile", his vocals meld beautifully with Perri's, with the two layering the singing and screaming on top of one another. On other tracks, like "Alive out Of Habit" Mark's vocals seem too weak to carry the song.

One question I've heard from people is regarding the lyrical content, and unfortunately, this record, like their previous one, contains it's share of PSAT words, and overtly maudlin pseudo-poetry, but it's still a big improvement from Too Bad Your Beautiful.

The only track that really annoyed me to the point of forcing a skip every time it came on was the painful "Autumns Monologue"; sung mostly by Melanie Willis who also performed on 'Short Stories With Tragic Endings' from their last, it feels completely out of place on the record and destroys the otherwise strong flow between tracks up to and after that point.

Still, in spite of a few difficult points, this is a much improved band with much improved songwriters, and managed to convince at least one of the naysayers that there was more to this band that their first record promised.