Funeral For A Friend – “Welcome Home Armageddon”

The Welsh power-house quintet known as Funeral For A Friend have been going strong since forming in 2001, and were pretty much the leading band in the post-hardcore movement of that decade. Welcome Home Armageddon is studio album number five from the Bridgend Boyos, and for many reasons sees a new and reinvigorated approach to their sound.

Firstly, there is another line-up change from their last album Memory And Humanity, seeing founding guitarist Darran Smith leave the band and bassist Gavin Burrough (who joined the band on that album) take over as guitarist with new member Richard Boucher take over bass. On top of that, Welcome Home Armageddon has been released through independent record label Distiller Records, whereas Memory And Humanity was released through Join Us Records, the bands own record label. The combination of these means Funeral For A Friend have shaken everything up, torn up the instruction manual and gone back to basics on Welcome Home Armageddon.

The band has said themselves they want to progress rather than go back on themselves with their sound, and that’s very true of Welcome Home Armageddon, but there are definitely similarities in its sound to their successful first album Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation. While Memory And Humanity went back to the heavy/melodic mix and the technical sounds their first album had, it was also very studiously put together. Now, Welcome Home Armageddon has a more raw and infectious side to it, and never lets up for a second with its onslaught of brutal and beautiful (…or “brutiful”?) sounds in equal measures.

Album opener This Side of Brightness is a melodic instrumental bit, but also lulls you into a false sense of what the rest of the album will be like when the first actual song Old Hymns jumps to life with its technical drums and high-end guitar. The slow build-up on single Front Row Seats to the End of the World gets rudely shoved out the way when the angular guitars, machine gun drums and brutal vocals tumble out of the speakers and create a sound reminiscent of the FFAF of old, giving longer-term fans something to enjoy in the process!

Sixteen brings back a riff-heavy sound similar to that of Casually Dressed… but also manages to mix in a more punk-rock sound in process, adding a new element to an already good sound. Normally, each album Funeral For A Friend make has a melodic acoustic song to break up the mayhem on the album, and at first it sounds like Owls (Are Watching) might be that song for this record. But when the raw, heavy groove comes in, it becomes apparent that with Welcome Home Armageddon Funeral For A Friend aren’t taking any time out to rest.

Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t carries on the fast paced onslaught of riffs with Medicated slowing the pace down again before becoming a more anthemic and emotion-led number with the lyrics “Screaming out for another feeling, paper houses cutting corners.” Broken Foundation busts out the grooves so fast and hard it could knock down walls, and is a pleasant surprise towards the end of the album when you think things are dying down a bit, before the title track rounds off the album in the true Funeral For A Friend style of leaving you wanting more.

Welcome Home Armageddon is packed with some of Funeral For A Friends finest works of the last few years, meaning long-term fans will be happy with what they hear whilst also being inventive enough to gain new fans in the process.

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