2003, Bridgend, South Wales. A post-hardcore band by the name of Funeral For A Friend have just released their debut record 'Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation'. The reception is excellent, with one notable heavy metal magazine branding them 'the new Nirvana'. Through the next ten years, the band evolved, moving away from the sound that garnered so many plaudits, beginning to fade into the background. Until now, and with 'Conduit', Funeral have produced their best album since that debut.
Taking the best of the rootsy hardcore that defined their early career and the pop-rock sensibilities of the likes of 2007's 'Tales Don't Tell Themselves', Conduit is a snarling 29-minute beast, starting at breakneck pace and unrelenting until the final seconds. Opening track 'Spine' sets the standard high, a joyous two minutes, Matthew Davies-Kreye's vocals soaring over some compact riffs. The title track is built for the live environment, offering light and shade in equal measure, with shout-along passages thrown in for good measure. And it works. Brilliantly.
Singles 'The Difference' and 'Best Friends and Hospital Beds' are geared for radio play, incorporating their melodic sensibilities excellently. As catchy as they are, however, they pale in comparison to the heavier tracks of the album. 'Nails' and 'Grey' showcase both guitarists ability, the lead breaks underpinned by some of the best riffs of their career.
In an age where hundreds of hardcore and metalcore bands are plying their trade across the UK, Funeral could be forgiven for mellowing with age. Instead, they have matured excellently, becoming harder, angrier and more aggressive. Sprinkling 'Conduit' with inventive breakdowns all too rare today pays excellent dividends and it is the heavier tracks on the album that stand out.
All too often, albums tail off towards the end, a single-laden first half with nothing to match in the latter stages. 'Conduit' takes this notion and blows it away completely; album closer 'High Castles' is arguably one of the strongest tracks the band have ever written, encapsulating the band's ethos completely. The intro is the best thing Guns N' Roses have never written, while the verses are built for gritted teeth, clenched fists and nodding heads. By the time the chorus has passed, the album closes with a breakdown that any of the other new breed of hardcore bands would be proud to have written.
Funeral For A Friend are a big deal in 2013. The signs have always been here. 'Welcome Home Armageddon' saw them return to that early style, showing that they were still capable of writing catchy, melodic hardcore but with 'Conduit', they have perfected that formula.
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