It was in 2001 that Funeral for a Friend began life, bursting out of Bridgend, Wales with the weight of expectation on their shoulders. The post-hardcore outfit were, said the press, to be the saviours of British rock music. They were going to reignite its flame, rejuvenate a dying breed of music; they would re-energise the passion that was (and some may say still is) missing in mainstream rock outfits.
And they did, but perhaps not to the extent – as is so often the case – that their major record label wanted. Riddled with a host of problems, not least a revolving door of band members, the group did well. But they never reached the stratospheric heights that others had hoped for.
2013 finds the band with another new member – former Rise to Remain drummer Pat Lundy – and a new album, the sixth of their career. While that career might not have made them international superstars, it’s certainly made them focus on their music: Conduit is a blistering return to their musical roots.
Blasting though 11 songs, it’s far from the sound of a veteran band simply going through the motions. Instead, within the seething pulse of Travelled, the direct and aggressive riffage of the title track and the catchy but gruff anthemics of Nails, they’re evidently a band that’s as hungry as ever.
Partly, that’s due to Lundy’s influence from behind the kit – he propels these songs with a youthful, aggression that, while not lacking in the band before, was a less salient part of their songs. But on Conduit, that raw urgency is the focal point, underpinning singer Matt Davies-Kreye’s gritty, gruff vocals.
There’s melody too, though, weaving between the angst and the anger – subtle nuances the band have honed over the last decade, which temper the aggression. Still, this is their best album for years – and if that’s the price for ‘underachievement’, it’s one that Funeral for a Friend should be happy to pay.
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