A fine return to form for Funeral For A Friend.
Funeral For A Friend couldn’t have expected the shit storm that would follow the 2007 release of "Tales Don’t Tell Themselves"; it drew the ire of many of their faithful, forcing some to jump off what seemed a sinking ship. It was such a departure from what had made them such a great band that managed to seamlessly exist on the borderline of hard rock and metal. "Welcome Home Armageddon" looks at Tales in the rear view mirror and flips the bird as Funeral For A Friend does well to pay respect to their roots all the while maintaining a few tricks learnt along the way.
While the riffs certainly don’t lack intricacies, this is much more than a guitarist’s album. Having discovered the importance of melody, Welcome Home Armageddon also provides many soaring sing-along choruses that are raw, and drenched with emotion. Everything about Welcome Home Armageddon is surprisingly brilliant. Each of the twelve tracks offers something different. There are tracks full to the brim of fury, there are also some more laid back tunes that don’t at all compromise the pacing of the record; which seems flawless.
The first half of the album is great. The beautifully constructed overture “This Side of Brightness” is a grand way to kick off proceedings; it’s haunting and has a kind of ‘destroyed beauty’ sound to it – which perfectly suits the confronting, yet frank, self-imposed apocalypse theme to the record.
“Front Row Seats to the End of the World” is one of the finer, and earliest, examples of the sublime blend of styles the band has opted for. It’s everything people loved about old Funeral and what folks didn’t hate about more recent Funeral. Crushing melodic riffs and brutal scream vocals are fitting in framing one of the catchiest choruses on the record, as Matt Davies-Kreye sings from his gut and heart. From day dot he has penned remarkable lyrics and worked the microphone with the angst and emotion a band like this demands. While he may have lost his way part way through the journey, the angry kid we once loved is back.
Two tracks from their The Young and Defenceless EP made the final cut of the record in “Sixteen” and “Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t”. The former is a fun track, it’s a light-hearted nostalgic look at years gone by, and its inclusion speaks volumes of the sheer scope of Welcome Home Armageddon.
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It’s during the latter half of the record that it really digs deep and finds that extra something special. “Owls (Are Watching)” is a bizarre track to say the very least. Lyrically thought-provoking and musically invigorating, it arrives at the ideal time as it is bookended by “Man Alive” and the aforementioned “Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t” – two exceptional riff-heavy tracks. It catches you off-guard, somewhat stealing the show. It’s sure to stay with you as one of the more memorable tracks from Welcome Home Armageddon. “Medicated” is a similarly laid back tune that is more so idyllic. Davies-Kreye is at the centre of attention once again as he sweetly croons some of the records more curious lyrics.
I can’t speak highly enough of the tune “Broken Foundation”, I so wish it had been chosen to close the disc. All due respect to the titular track, but “Broken Foundation” ticks every single box. Ryan Richards works his kit like a man possessed and guitarists Kris Coombs-Roberts and Gavin Burrough utilize just about every trick in the book, as they use harmony and melody to craft what is hands-down the guitar track for the record. Oh gosh, what a solo.
Funeral For A Friend has been a freight-train of momentum since the release of their compilation record, Your History is Mine. From track one up until the poignant epilogue that concludes the titular track, Welcome Home Armageddon is a wrecking ball that will floor you with its variety, pacing and sheer emotion. I also must sent kudos to Rianne Rowlands who did a brilliant job on what is one of my all-time favourite cover arts.
Whilst it isn’t their best record to date, Welcome Home Armageddon is a welcome return to form for the band. If these great strides continue, and the Funeral freight-train keeps chugging on, the coming years may generate the group’s magnum opus; and what a record that would be.