Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Funeral For a Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon

It's no great stretch of the truth when I say that Funeral For a Friend are one of the most underrated bands of the last 10 years. Their debut album 'Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation' and sophomore effort 'Hours' essentially pioneered the British post-hardcore scene which was to dominate rock music for the majority of the decade. People often forget that FFAF were the first post-hardcore band to make it on a major label and in the first half of their career they were one of the most important bands in the world. 
Then the band fell of the wagon slightly when their follow up offerings couldn't live up to their initial hype. Cue various lineup changes and even the most hardened FFAF enthusiast would've admitted they were slightly unsure as to what the future would bring for the band. With 'Welcome Home Armageddon' Funeral For a Friend have literally drop kicked their doubters firmly into touch. 
The album follow up to last year's 'Young And Defenceless'  is quite simply incredible. Opening instrumental 'This Side Of Brightness' lulls you into a false sense of security before 'Old Hymns' pounds you down, delivering hook after delicious hook. The delivery and mastery of instruments and vocals blend into one and the band sound more youthful and buoyant as ever. Not even a minute in to the album and it's clear FFAF are back with a bang. It's like the band suddenly remembered what made their music so crucial in the first place as the intertwining harsh screams of drummer Ryan Richards and crushing riffs ring out during ''Front Row Seats To The End Of The World.' It's hard to believe this is the Same Funeral For a Friend who sauntered along at a canter singing about boats on their 2007 concept album 'Tales Don't Tell Themselves.' 
There's a renewed vigour in 'Sixteen,' a bouncy slice of post-punk brilliance, containing more melodic hooks and catchy choruses reminiscent of 'Casually Dressed..' The band show us they've lost none of their edge with hardcore offerings 'Aftertaste' and 'Man Alive', proving they can compete with the big boys. 'Owls (Are Watching)' is one of the stand out tracks both musically and lyrically. Matt Davies-Kreye's delivery has always been exceptional but he really excels himself here. Multi-headed beast 'Spinning Over The Island' showcases the band's versatility as it weaves and freeforms, crushing and melodic one minute, heartfelt ballad the next. 'Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't' and 'Medicated' deliver more hooks than a fishing expedition and are catchier than the cold with their gang vocal style choruses. 
Funeral For a Friend are at their absolute heaviest on thrash behemoth 'Broken Foundations', destined to become a mosh-pit favourite at the band's future shows. Closing track 'Welcome Home Armageddon' sounds like it was pinched right from Iron Maiden's back catalogue with it's power metal riffs and killer drumbeats. Matt's vocals carry the song along perfectly, his deep and meaningful lyrics about desolation and catastrophe turn this track into an absolute belter, the last two minutes are so incredibly moving and are a fitting end to a magnificent record. The album ticks every box a Funeral For a Friend fan could ask for and then some. 
Here we have one of the best albums to materialize from the current rock scene and certainly one of the best records FFAF have ever made. They are a much different beast to the one that took the world by storm with their debut in 2003, now sounding like they have purpose and integrity. FFAF essentially opened doors for countless other bands to have a crack at the industy and thus became one of the most relevant acts to grace the rock scene. With 'Welcome Home Armageddon' FFAF have given us an almost faultless album which sounds more relevant than ever.
 'Casually Dressed.. Part Two' this is not, this album is all about moving forward and evolving. While being reminiscent of their former glory this is a triumphant return and a bold statement by Funeral For a Friend that they are back and better than ever. 

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