Funeral For A Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon
28th March 2011
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With the departure of guitarist Darran Smith and Gavin Burrough’s consequential movement from bass to guitar, Funeral For A Friend have had a turbulent few years. But as they return with their fifth studio album, they demonstrate a maturity and adaptability, sounding better than ever. Given this change, you might expect the dynamic, the music, or even the feel of Welsh-born quintet to have been distorted, but I am pleased to say there is something undeniably FFAF in Welcome Home Armageddon. After a classic haunting 44 second opener, ‘Old Hymns’ kicks off the album in style, throwing the listener straight into a dense and outstanding sound. It is classic FFAF, with soaring vocals and some astounding Coheed and Cambria-esque guitar work thrown in for good measure. But where Funeral for a Friend really show their aptitude is first single ‘Front Row Seats to the End of the World’. There is some really dirty and grimy guitar work laced throughout the sound die-hard fans are used to, paired with some screamo vocals that at first sound like they would be more at home on an Enter Shikari record. But what jars at first, comes to be the thing that separates Welcome Home Armageddon from the rest of FFAF’s discography. Granted, screamo vocals are nothing new to the Welsh quintet, but its use in this latest record is inventive and not in the least bit derivative, demonstrating that they are anything but a one-trick band. This is what makes this record truly amazing – there is something fresh about it, whilst still remaining true to their roots, something that few established acts can achieve. ‘Man Alive’, for example, could have come straight from Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation, which is by no means a criticism. It’s a sound that propelled FFAF into stardom, and they still exhibit this same aesthetic that we know and love from them. But at the other end of the spectrum, tracks such as ‘Owls’ highlight how much they have grown as an act. The opening is simply stunning: clean vocals and beautiful guitar work set it up to be a heart wrenching ballad, but when the rest of the band kick in, you’re left with a result that is somewhat unexpected. The sound is dense, complicated and big, but somehow through all the elements that pile on top of one another, it’s still got a quality that hits you hard, demonstrating that a band need not go acoustic to have a song that hits the heart.
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