A great fifth album from the revitalised Welsh rockers.
Raziq Rauf 2011-03-17
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Funeral for a Friend were thinking about winding down after the line-up changes of recent years and the release of 2009’s best-of set, Your History Is Mine. But Welcome Home Armageddon proves quite the opposite. Both this disc and its predecessor, 2008’s Memory and Humanity, seem to have acted as MOTs for the band. While the first cracks to appear were quickly painted over, the departure of guitarist Darran Smith has been pointedly slow and deliberate. Today, the band sounds all the better for addressing their problems, having resolved them brilliantly.
It seems odd to suggest that FFAF have started to sound like themselves again after the relative departure of their classic rock-oriented, Gil Norton-produced album of 2007, Tales Don’t Tell Themselves. But it’s close to the truth, as Memory… re-established the post-hardcore hallmarks that the south Wales clan had become famous for, and now the group has improved upon them further. That album was good, but this is better.
After a slightly unnecessary intro track, Old Hymns bursts forth with technical guitars and pop-punk nous apparent in equal measure, before the superbly heavy Front Row Seats to the End of the World blows away any brightly coloured cobwebs. Drummer Ryan Richards screams his way through the verses before Matt Davies-Kreye adds the salve in the chorus. It’s just like the good old days.
Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't and Sixteen are a couple of tracks taken from last year’s self-released EP, The Young and the Defenceless. Listening again, six months on, they certainly did give a good idea of the direction the band was about to take on their fifth full-length, as they fit seamlessly into the album. That they would slip just as well onto their debut, 2003’s Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation, is a sign of their timeless quality.
You might not expect a barnstormer from a track titled Owls (Are Watching), but this gentle, slowed-down and melodramatic song is an indicator as to how FFAF have progressed over time. Alongside Medicated, it’s a number that shows that once you learn how to write an epic ballad, you’ll always be able pull a handful of heartstrings.
FFAF have produced another pop-punk special with Welcome Home Armageddon – and, thankfully, they don’t look like stopping any time soon. Fingers crossed they can keep this set of band members for a while, and continue putting miles on the clock.