Band: Funeral for a Friend
Title: Welcome Home Armageddon
Released: 14th March 2011
Label: Self-released (Join Us)
Producer: Romesh Dodangoda
Funeral for a Friend have been releasing music since 2002’s debut EP ‘Between Order and Model’, which introduced us to their brand of fast-paced, sing/scream combination, post-hardcore. They went on to release another EP and two full length albums under this style before segregating fans in 2007 with radio orientated, pop-rock album ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’ (and a mimed appearance on Top of the Pops). The follow-up album ‘Memory and Humanity’ went largely unnoticed by most, despite the fact that it was released through their own label ‘Join Us’. It seemed that the band had reached its peak, and when news that two members were leaving, the future looked bleak. 2011 signifies a rebirth for the band and with a new line-up and a return to their earlier, heavy, sound ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ attempts to reignite the band’s popularity.
The album begins with an ambient tease of a guitar riff, before pummelling into the opening song and immediately you have to smile because this is what has been missing since 2005’s ‘Hours’ album. Throughout the twelve tracks, the musicianship is back to the level that got me so excited about this band ten years ago. There are songs on this album that make me want to pick up my guitar and immediately learn the riffs; there are songs that have me unconsciously nodding my head and tapping my foot; there are songs that feel like Funeral for a Friend are back.
The new additions to the band (guitar and bass) have slotted in perfectly and throughout the album there are many riffs to enjoy, dynamics to keep things interesting and plenty of character to the music. All of these elements make me extremely happy, but before we get too excited, there is a dark side to the album. The vocals.
My main problem with Matt’s vocals is that most of the melodies sound too familiar, as though they’ve been used elsewhere in the back catalogue, or that they are just too typically ‘Matt’. Musically the songs borrow from the early years in terms of style, but there’s a sufficiently original direction to make it sound new and fresh; I don’t get that sense from the vocals. Most of the choruses are ok, but they don’t offer anything special and I find it hard to recall one really memorable hook from any of the songs. Melodies aside, the tone of Matt’s voice is also off-putting. Too often on this album the vocals seemed strained, as though he’s singing at the top of his range, which can make certain songs sound monotonous and uninteresting.
Despite these niggles, I am pleased to say that this rebirth has actually worked. The problem with bands trying to go back to a certain style from their past is that they forget that they too have grown up. Any form of art that we create is a reflection of ourselves at a point in time and it’s certainly true with music. Early Funeral for a Friend was full of youthful angst and a playful energy that derived from being young and carefree, and this shone through in the music they created. Ten years into the future and it’s impossible to emulate such emotions and most bands suffer from trying to relive an experience rather than truly feeling it.
The reason that this album works is because it truly sounds as though Funeral for a Friend have enjoyed creating it. They are free from record label pressures, new blood has joined the band and people have already been quick to write them off. Essentially this album is a clean slate, and for a full-time band the liberation of having all of that weight lifted must be an emotion like no other. Well the proof is in the music and ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ is a welcome enough homecoming to keep my interest in the band alive. If the next album showcases some impressive vocals, then we’re in for a very big treat.