Welsh post-hardcore outfit Funeral For A Friend find themselves on a round trip rummaging through their origins with the release of their sixth studio album Conduit. Whilst 2011’s Welcome Home Armageddon found the band firmly reunited with their hardcore and metal influences, it’s only now that they seem committed to driving their point home.
The adept synthesis of hardcore riffs and angst ridden hooks certainly recalls the band’s early material, but by no means should this be misinterpreted as strategic backtracking. Conduit strikes an almost faultless balance between the band’s musical mileage racked up over the last decade and long-lost puerile intensity. Gone are the arena beckoning catchy chorus lines, making way for souped-up guitar aggression and vocals infected with Davies-Kreyes’ years of emotional penchant.
Producer Romesh Dodagoda, a long-time collaborator with the band, supports the new direction by giving the album a distinct, raw feel for an even rougher edge – think back to Manic Street Preachers‘ homegrown approach on The Holy Bible. The vigour and fresh experimentation at play makes Conduit almost as contemporary as the aforementioned Manics album was upon release.
The album is brimming with effervescence, awash with neurotic metalcore, the harshest sounding Davies-Kreyes ever recorded, and unmitigated melodies. Everything falls into place to create post-hardcore reverie whilst keeping well clear of current sounds and styles that riddle that genre. Attacking the 11 songs at full throttle, this is not the signature sound of veterans going through the motions. Lead single Best Friends And Hospital Beds lays down the gauntlet and succinctly sums up the best part of the album with its driving rhythm section and infectious hooks. The insatiable punk cravings are only reinforced by the mouth foaming rage possessing the band on Travelled, the crudely infectious balladry of Nails and the title track’s all out riffing.
The most welcome surprise to discerning fans lies with new drummer, Pat Lundy (Rise To Remain). Now only playing host to two of the band’s original line-up, Lundy manages to drum some long overdue life into the band – more than justifying their swift appointment of Ryan Richards’ successor. The newcomer succeeds in inciting a youthful aggression that, although always present to a certain extent in the previous line-up, was a less striking feature of their soundscape. This prevailing raw urgency provides the backbone that previous albums were sadly missing.
Clocking in at just under the half hour mark provides little time for the band to get in, do their thing and leave their mark. This obviously means no forgiveness for filler material and they pull this off admirably thanks to their rekindled love of frenzied punk rock, giving the album its runaway train momentum throughout. Bar a couple of emotional lulls in the form of Novella and Hospitality, Conduit leaves the listener with a serious case of oxygen debt. The combined result is a succinct, stripped down and entirely captivating record.
Here is a band whose constant shuffling of members has played a crucial role in creating an album boasting the musical polish of a band that has finally gelled. While Conduit still shows signs of a band experimenting with each other to find their footing the result manages to come across feeling natural. Fuelled by more than a decade of experience, Conduit sees Funeral For A Friend unleash an excitingly fresh attitude resulting in a record that could so easily be mistaken for an LP released by a band over a decade their junior.