The 2001 début from Welsh rockers Funeral For a Friend, Causally Dressed and Deep In Conversation could be held solely responsible for an entire slew of English post-hardcore acts such as the irksome Fightstar or even teen-girl favourites You Me At Six. However that shouldn't detract from the overall fact that it was a blistering first effort and it put the bands name on the map. Since then they have failed to match that first album despite releasing an album every two years (on average) since. It's for this reason that fans of FFAF should be very excited about their latest album Conduit.
This album is the closest they've come to capturing the magic that was Casually Dressed...The band have gone back to their post-hardcore roots by all accounts. Major metalcore riffs populate almost every track. Transforming them instantly in to driving emotionally charged anthems that will be familiar to fans of early Atreyu or The Bled. What Matt Davies and co. have done here is encapsulate a soundtrack to years gone back which isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, a bad thing.
There are elements of melody here, as seen in previous FFAF outings such as 'In to Oblivion' from 2007's Tales Don't Tell Themselves but they're only fleeting, and serve to soften the heavy hardcore influenced songs such as 'Grey' which brings to mind bands of yesteryear such as From Autumn to Ashes or Boysetsfire.
This isn't to say that FFAF have just recycled, rehashed, and re-released. The step in the hardcore direction is something new and fresh for the band who threatened to stagnate in a generic puddle of metal clichés. That isn't to say the songs sound drastically different from singles such as 'Front Row Seats to the End of the World' but there is no sign of the stadium rock ambitions shown on previous tracks such as 'Water Front Dance Club'
'Sun-Less' is a particular stand out track on the album which begins with a chunky riff before Davies lets his voice shine, particularly in the chorus which smacks of Casually Dressed... era FFAF. Track three, 'Best Friends and Hospital Beds' is just begging to be used as a screen-name, which is a shame given no-one uses Myspace these days. While the title well get “teen hearts beating faster” (geddit?) the song itself is a driving hardcore anthem that doesn't sound dissimilar to fellow countrymen Bullet For My Valentine until the chorus which is unmistakeably Funeral.
I went in to this review expecting nothing great, partly in fact due to the fact that each album by Funeral For A Friend disappointed slightly more than the last and partly due to the fact that I'm 22 years old now and not, as crippling as this may be, 14. I was more than surprised when I let the album play; within a minute I knew this was going to be something special. I wasn't proven wrong. The whole album is a no breaks balls to the wall post-hardcore masterpiece, with the only lull in the proceedings coming in the form of 'Nails' which is slow in comparison to the rest of the album but will still appeal to most people. There are elements Frank Carter-era Gallows and riffs that sound similar to Trivium but all the while being unmistakeably Funeral For A Friend. A must for fans of metal; a must for fans of hardcore; a must for fans of Funeral; simply a must for fans of music.
Funeral For A Friend are on tour in the UK until mid-April.