Funeral For A Friend have had a turbulent couple of years since the release of best of album Your History Is Mine in 2009. After the departure of their primary guitar player, existing bass player Gavin Burrough took over guitar duties and the band replaced him with old friend Richard Boucher. Following the release of EP The Young And Defenceless at the end of 2010, the band now return in triumphant form with Welcome Home Armageddon.
Lets get the simple stuff out-of-the-way. I’m loving this record. Being a long time FFAF fan new material is always welcome, but I do have a tendency to fleetingly listen to things and return to it later. Welcome has been round my ears time and again since its release and has placed everything else I’ve picked up in the last two weeks on the back burner.
A short instrumental introduction quickly gives way to first proper track “Old Hymns”. It’s short and snappy and has an instantly heavier feel to it with some great fast drumming. Matt Davies vocals are a little strained though and it’s clear the shoutier vocal is better left to drummer Ryan Richards. Richards vocals are prominent on the next track and first freely released single “Front Row Seats To The End Of The World” which again is faster and angrier than previous material.
Second single “Sixteen” follows sounding a bit more traditional FFAF. It’s a good single and again is quite quick and chirpy and keeps the momentum of the album flowing. With next track “Aftertaste” you begin to wonder how long this album actually is as it starts at least feeling like a short sharp shock, though changes pace in the middle. Following track “Spinning Over The Island” has more of the traditional scream/proper vocal back and forth and half way through the good old automatic mosh settles in with some good crunchy guitar, but it’s slightly over long and runs out of steam toward the end before kicking back into gear a bit in the last 30 seconds or so.
“Man Alive” suffers a little from the slightly strained vocal and feels a lot more like earlier emo-tinged FFAF than the more metal flavour the beginning of the album has, but again its quick. “Owls (Are Watching)” has an odd slow start that I really don’t like, but it kicks into gear fairly quickly and is the probably the closest the album has to a slow track. This slow blip though is turned on its head by “Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t”. Its speedy instrumentation and scream and gang vocal backing reinforces the metal flavour again and its one of my favourites.
“Medicated” slows the album down a little again and is probably the track most likely to get radio play. It has some nice off time drumming, but otherwise it’s just a reasonable track and one of the albums weaker moments. But then it’s right back in your face again with “Broken Fountain”. Closing off the album is title track “Welcome Home Armageddon”. This is the longest track on the album and is fast, but without the ferocity that the previous track has. After 3 ½ mins it slows down to closes off the album nicely.
It’s clear that the changes in the lineup and instrument switching hasn’t reduced the quality of the bands playing. In fact, I’d say it’s sharper than ever and I’m looking forward to seeing them live as soon as possible as a lot of this new material will translate really well to a high energy live show. Weighing in at just over 40 minutes it’s quite short, but overall, it’s a great return to form and should be added to everyone’s music library.