Funeral For A Friend


Written by: TL on 15/02/2013 14:08:42

It's weird considering how long the band have been going on - at least with one lineup or another - but when you look down Funeral For A Friend's discography, considering the remarkably different albums they've released, they don't come off as a band that have ever felt totally at home on any one record they've made. Chasing bigger things across their first three records meant the Welsh quintet seemed to have lost its sense of self by the time they got around to the grasping and forgetable "Memory & Humanity", which is why 2011's "Welcome Home Armageddon" was such a surprising return to form. Somehow though, I'm more surprised by the recently released "Conduit", although I guess in some way I shouldn't be.

Followers of the band will know that they've always spoken openly about being highly influenced by heavier bands, both traditional heavy metal like Iron Maiden but also a different heaviness coming from their youth spent in the local hardcore scene. So really it shouldn't be so baffling that "Conduit" has come out almost like a European counterpart to Silverstein's "Short Songs" - a venture away from the band's traditional post-hardcore/emo-rock and over into the tenets of more traditional, melodic hardcore punk. What I'm saying is that if you've been a casual FFAF listener, you'll likely be confused with how the new songs are much more simple and compact, hitting hard, fast and relentlessly in little over two minutes each. It's like the band have taken the styles of "Casually Dressed..." and "Welcome Home Armageddon" and dragged them kicking and screaming over into furious romps alá Comeback Kid and Evergreen Terrace, with many of the resulting songs sounding not unlike the former's classic "Wake The Dead".

Me not being much of a hardcore fan though, it probably comes as no surprise that I think this approach works the best when flashes of FFAF's regular qualities also find room in the new direction. Leading single "Best Friends And Hospital Beds" for instance, works well shifting from breakneck verse and desperate, gang-shouted pre-chorus - "How many friends can I lose / Before it all / makes sense!?" - to near-classic FFAF chorus with a blend of sadness and urgency in the melody and with tapped leads sparkling in the background. Fist-pumping anthem "Nails" also makes an impression, employing the same elements at a slightly more tempered pace, yet in my opinion it's "The Distance" that takes the cake on the album, sporting a devilishly flammable signature riff, giving way to a melodic, scaling chord pattern in the chorus that's of the recognisable sort that simply makes you want to lose it.

Unfortunately, all of the songs mentioned so far are grouped on the album's first half, and after the odd mood of "Travelled", the variations of the hardcore theme that the band continues to explore, never really recover to the same state of potency as is found earlier on the record. Admittedly it could be a matter of taste though, with "Grey" for instance centering around the enthropic sort of melody that has often turned me off hardcore in general, while turning many others on to it. Seeing as this is my review however, I have to stick with my impression that things just don't seem to fit together as seamlessly coming up on the end of the record, which eventually leads me to the question of whether the best cuts on here are memorable enough to afford "Conduit" some prominence in FFAF's catalogue. And I'm not quite sure that they are. "Conduit" has captivating power in its best moments, and it's always good to see a band daring to investigate stylistic tangents, but in the moments when it doesn't fire on all cylindres, it doesn't feel entirely neither here nor there - not catchy enough, not full enough of hardcore energy. Any fans, casual or ardent, should check out the songs I highlighted however, because those are worth some spins if you ask me.


Download: The Distance, Best Friends And Hospital Beds, Nails,
For The Fans Of: Silverstein, Comeback Kid, Evergreen Terrace, early Lower Than Atlantis, Story Of The Year

Release Date 28.01.2013
Distiller Records

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