Since its last disc, 2003's The Fiction We Live, From Autumn to Ashes has lost two-fifths of its lineup. And appropriately, half of the new Abandon Your Friends measures up to the band's first two albums. Live cracked the 150,000 mark for emo clubhouse Vagrant, even though the band sounded like the East Coast brother of Avenged Sevenfold, cribbing from Iron Maiden guitar leads as frontman Benjamin Perri screamed and growled till his throat couldn't take it anymore.
Now the group sounds torn between its best-selling sound and the pop past of bassist Josh Newton (he used to play in Reggie and the Full Effect). Instead of merging the two sounds, From Autumn switches styles every other track, alternating heavy and light. The high-harmony power ballad "Kansas City 90210" sounds as if it was written by people who tear up during very special episodes of The O.C. But when he's not crooning tra-la-la emo, singer-drummer Francis Mark hits his kit like he's hell-bent on stirring up a pit that's no less than deadly (see "Short for Show"). And the hardcore haymaker "The Funny Thing About Getting Pistol Whipped Is" really does sound like a beating.