Funeral For A Friend ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’

Proves that Funeral For A Friend are far from finished…

Contrary to what many fans and critics have said, ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ is not a return to the sound of Funeral For A Friend’s early career, but it’s as damned close to it as they’re ever going to get. FFAF will never remake their debut ‘Causally Dressed & Deep In Conversation’, because they have evolved from that album’s initial ‘screamo’ sound, and have (over the years) vastly improved as songwriters – listen back to those beloved early tunes and you’ll notice that the song structures are relatively simple. FFAF have always been about progression, and always will be.

‘Screamo’ was always a term that this reviewer had trouble with. Not because the concept was too complex to comprehend (emo + screaming = screamo), but because the genre seemed to envelop bands that were already more definitively described by other terms – Glassjaw as post-hardcore, Thrice as (melodic) hardcore punk, and Poison The Well as metalcore. Today the term screamo is only seldom used (perhaps because most of the high-profile screamo bands either fell apart or changed their sound), but does this mean that British screamo kingpins FFAF are past their sell-by-date?

Last year the answer would have been yes. The welsh five-piece changed the face of British alternative music with the release of their debut album, and after following it up with the overly-polished by hugely successful ‘Hours’ their relevance has been spiralling downwards (‘into oblivion’ – sorry). 2007’s ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’ severed the screaming to produce a nautical-inspired concept album, bursting with boundary-pushing emo but ultimately failing to satisfy their angsty fan base. 2009’s ‘Memory And Humanity’ simply sounded flat. It was all looking quite bleak for FFAF, as if their fans had outgrown the band that once changed their lives – just as they outgrew Hundred Reasons.

‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ is FFAF back to their aggressive best, but while it may feature drummer Ryan Richard’s guttural screaming (an aspect we have all missed), it also features the grandiose, sweet emo of their latter recordings. The metallic shredding and growling of single ‘Front Row Seats To The End Of The World’ (perhaps the heaviest thing they’ve ever produced) is balanced against the epic post-rock of ballad ‘Medicated’ – the heavier segments of the album perfectly complementing the more melodious segments, as if they were reunited lovers. Frontman Matt Davies describes the album as “a fist in the face followed by a kiss on the cheek.” As accurate a description as you’re going get.

Davies’ vocals have never sounded so impassioned – his choruses bolder (‘Old Hymns’), and his yelps more urgent (‘Man Alive’). The guitars are more intricate and technical, with songs like ‘Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t’ containing the same sort of hardcore punk wizardry as early Thrice. ‘Broken Foundation’ is one of the most energetic songs FFAF have recorded in years, the chugging metalcore and strong melody harking back to the days of their early EPs – and the blazing guitar solo is exhilarating (eat your whiney hearts out Bullet For My Valentine). The mature melody of ballad ‘Owls (Are Watching)’ and the slow wind down of the title track are just two of the album’s highlights.

‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ proves that Funeral For A Friend are far from finished. Although the term screamo may be past its sell-by-date, after refreshing their emo and hardcore tinged metal FFAF sound as relevant as they did on their debut. This influential band will reassert their dominance on the British screamo, metalcore, emocore, post-hardcore, or whatever-core scene it is that they championed eight years ago.


~ by cliveparisrozario on March 11, 2011.

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