Funeral For a Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon
Record Label: Good Fight
Release Date: March 15, 2011
Knowing that the first thoughts from Funeral for a Friend fans anticipating the new album jump towards the “how will it compare to Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation?” I have been at a loss of how to tackle this review: On one hand, every bone in my body wants to avoid such comparisons in fear of putting you all on a leash…but on the other hand I feel that if I do not compare Welcome Home Armageddon at least to some extent with Casually Dressed; I will not be able to write this review, for it DOES have similarities and it IS as good...and dare I say; better.
The album begins with a short guitar instrumental…. just as you start to feel its building up towards something, like the realisation of an idea coming to fruition "Old Hymns" bangs straight into your ear drums. Fast, furious, melodic and straight to the point. I was not ten seconds into the song and I found myself grinning from ear to ear and literally screaming ‘holy crap, they’re back’ inside my head. The double time drums, the metal licks, Matt Davies voice that we’ve all learnt to love pushing the song through with such conviction in his voice. “I used to mean something to you” sung in the breakdown, the mischievous side of my brain couldn’t help but imagine those words directed to the fans that thought they were becoming a spent force; a most worthy opener.
"Front Row Seats To The End Of The World" and "Sixteen" up next. Both songs leave you with a clear impression for what the band is all about. On the one side they have the ability to pull out the heavy riffs and screams; balancing them with melodic choruses and then they have their straight forward rock songs with sing along melodies and catchy hooks whilst still packing a serious musical punch. Not many bands are able to balance the two so well and they are clearly one of the forerunners within their genre.
"Sixteen" was previously released on their EP The Young and Defenceless. They released this as a single and I highly recommend you watch the video for it for it brings the song to a whole new level.
"Aftertaste", "Spinning Over The Island" and "Man Alive" give "Juneau", "Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings" and "Escape Artists Never Die" (see Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation) a run for their money as the best three track combo. One after the other – these songs provide the linchpin and identity for Welcome Home Armageddon. Aggressive when they need to be, melodic when they need to be and absolutely everything we want Funeral for a Friend to be. By this point of the album if you are still thinking they don’t have what it takes anymore then you may as well not be listening at all. Undertones from Casually Dressed are immediately recognizable in the vibe and musical progression in these songs. Kris Coombs and Gavin Burrough and have managed to encapsulate the same style riffs we all fell in love with on those albums years ago without making them feel like a simple rehash. Likewise, Matt Davies channels his best "bullet theory" impression in the verses on "Man Alive" whilst breaking into one of their best choruses to date...I could continuously gush over these three songs. These really are some of their finest songs to date; absolutely brilliant.
"Owls (Are Watching)" lulls you into a false sense of security; dangling the ballad leash before emphatically smothering your face with another wall of sound. There are no ballads to be found on Welcome Home Armageddon.
"Damned If You, Damned If You Don’t", another outtake from their latest EP (strongest track off the EP) keeps up the relentless force of the album and mixes the fast paced double time drums with heavy metal breakdowns, another track displaying the band at their absolute best. "Medicated" is the first time you feel like the reigns have been pulled in a bit but is by no means lacking in stature. "Broken Foundation" blasts into your ears and it has to be said that this might be some of the heaviest music they have written to date. Still distinctively Funeral for a Friend, they tap into their "Seven Ways To Scream Your Name" reserves and pull out an absolute corker of a track. And finally the title and final track is upon us and it’s a catchy, punchy number with an excellent outro that is guaranteed to take you by surprise.
Top to bottom this album feels like a classic; a show stopper. No thrills, no cheap tricks and gimmicks. Where so many bands attempt to go back to their roots and fall short, Funeral for a Friend find themselves back in a comfort zone and pushing themselves to even better heights. The fountain of youth has been found and it’s injecting a passion and joy into their music that should have their faithful fans begging for more as well as bring in a new regiment of soldiers into their army. Welcome Home Armageddon is more than a response to their critics and disillusioned fans, it’s a slap in the face and a two fingered salute.