Thursday, November 3, 2011

Funeral For A Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon

Funeral For A Friend
Welcome Home Armageddon
Roadrunner Records/Warner Music Australia

Welsh (Bridgend based) post-hardcore act Funeral For A Friend’s first couple of E.P. releases (2002’s ‘Between Order And Model’ and 2003’s ‘Four Ways To Scream Your Name’) earned the band a huge amount of buzz in the underground, and helped build the hype surrounding the band and ‘The Next Big Thing’ tag that was often attached to their name. So it was no big surprise to see their debut full-length effort ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’ (2003) soon turning out to be a huge success from the moment it was released. Predictably enough, the band’s follow-up release ‘Hours’ (2005) was another critically acclaimed effort from the group. But by 2007, Funeral For A Friend decided a change of musical direction was called for, with their third album ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’ showcasing a far more melodic side to the band’s song writing, and most of the hardcore elements of the band’s past laid to rest. While the album was still considered a success, many of the band’s early fans were disappointed with the band’s shift in sound towards the more accessible and radio friendly.
While the band did manage to regain some of the ground (And fans) they lost with their follow-up effort ‘Memory And Humanity’ (2008), their label Atlantic Records’ decision to release the compilation ‘Your History Is Mine: 2002 – 2009’ a year later left many wondering if the band’s time was coming to an end. The truth of the matter is that despite the countless line-up changes, the split from Atlantic Records and drifting off the beaten musical path for the better part of the last couple of album’s has not spelt the end for Funeral For A Friend. And the proof lies solely within their latest album ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’.
With a new line-up in place (Lead vocalist Matthew Davies-Kreye, guitarist/backing vocalist Kris Coombs-Roberts and drummer/aggressive vocalist Ryan Richards have welcomed guitarist/backing vocalist Gavin Burrough (Who previously played bass, and who was once a member of Hondo Maclean, Ghostlines and The Future) and ex-Hondo Maclean/Hurricane-Joe/Ghostlines bassist Richard Boucher into the fold), Funeral For A Friend have once again reinvented themselves and their sound, and delivered an album that’s as much rooted in the past and it in heading towards the future.
After a very short (And somewhat unnecessary) instrumental introductory piece (‘This Side Of Brightness’), Funeral For A Friend gets straight down to business with ‘Old Hymns’. It’s on this track that the band really fine tune their sound to incorporate the hardcore sound of their past (Metallic riffs and relentless double kick drumming throughout) with the melodic feel of their more recent past. The band sound re-energised and inspired, and the fusion of sounds gives the song a strength that hasn’t been heard in the band’s song writing in some time.
The mix of old and new isn’t isolated to one track either, with songs such as ‘Aftertaste’, the heavy and lengthy ‘Spinning Over The Island’, ‘Man Alive’ and ‘Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t’ all combining the best elements of both eras of the band’s past in truly inspiring form.
Richards takes on the lead role on the aggressive ‘Front Row Seats To The End Of The World’ (The album’s first single/promotional video clip) and the brutal ‘Broken Foundation’ (Which features some fantastic solo work), while ‘Owls (Are Watching)’ and the title track ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ are the favourites amongst the album’s more melodic and rocking efforts.
As little as four years ago, Funeral For A Friend was losing fans in their droves, and many were claiming the band was all but washed up. But with ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’, Funeral For A friend have managed to produce one of their finest efforts in years, and proven everyone wrong.
The band’s earlier releases may have been hailed as their best, but I’ll be damned if ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ isn’t up there with their early classic efforts.

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© Justin Donnelly