It can’t be easy being Funeral for a Friend. Releasing the seminal Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation propelled the band into the major leagues back in 2003, yet simultaneously imparted a pressure on the band’s shoulders that not even they could have foreseen a decade ago. Since that release every ounce of material has found itself scrutinised against the obvious quality of the debut full-length, often causing an inability for fans and industry insiders alike to accept any new direction or shred of experimentation.
That did not stop the band in subsequent years – Hours introduced further introspection into their music and Tales Don’t Tell Themselves wrestled with more climatic and expansive material. There existed an obvious dedication to explore new territory; territory that both attracted new audiences and simultaneously alienated those desperate for a return to earlier releases.
Funeral for a Friend have repeatedly been wise to public opinion – it comes as no shock that their material faces comparisons at every stage. With the introduction of Pat Lundy (ex-Rise To Remain) wielding the sticks in place of the long-serving Ryan Richards, the band are allowed the opportunity to not only experiment with new sounds, but to also feel like a rejuvenated band. With that, the underlying foundations for Conduit are forged.
The abundance of energy and enthusiasm is immediately evident in the shorter and punchier songs. Entirely driven by the rhythm section, each riff explodes out of the various melodies that successfully capture the combination of power and tunefulness that characterised earlier material. This is not so much a return to their older sound, rather a more immediate homage to previous accomplishments. The metal-inspired moments take to the forefront, particularly ‘Death Comes To All Of Us’ and the final moments of ‘High Castles’ demonstrating their affinity with the abundance of metalcore bands working their way around the scene.
Tracks such as lead single ‘The Distance’ display their continued ability to generate engaging melodies without losing the immediacy of their sound. They are not a huge step forward from Welcome Home Armageddon, yet are considerably more memorable than tracks from their previous release. The entire record is supported by a clever unpolished feel thanks to long-time collaborator Romesh Dodangoda. Rather than dive head first into clean production, the screams, strained vocals and riffs benefit from their rougher edges – none more so than on ‘Grey’.
Conduit is by not a perfect record – the quick and punchy tracks result in a frustratingly short running time, and a handful of tracks are overshadowed by the standouts – however it is clearly the work of a band who are driven by both experience and an excitingly fresh attitude. The advancement from previous material is not cataclysmic, but it never really needed to be. As Funeral for a Friend stand now they appear comfortable in their sound – something which has been missing for some time.
Reviewer: Ben Tipple