September 16, 2015

A Love Letter to Funeral For A Friend

As of 9/14/2015, Funeral For a Friend (FFAF) has announced they are breaking up. Funeral For a Friend was active from 2001-2015 and released seven full-length albums and over half-a-dozen EPs.

In honor of FFAF, lets take a look at their contributions to the post-hardcore genre, album by album.

In 2003, Wales natives Funeral For a Friend released their debut album Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation. This album debuted at the forefront of the post-hardcore/screamo genre emerging in the early 2000’s. The blending of melodic guitars, harsh screams, and well-utilized breakdowns helped put them on the map with premiere bands like Senses Fail, Silverstein and Alexisonfire. Singles ‘Juneua‘ and ‘Escape Artists Never Die‘ featured incredibly catchy harmonies over Edgar Allan Poe-esk lyrics that were popular in the early 2000’s.

The sophomore release, Hours, was released in 2005 and featured a more refined sound and noticed maturity in the lyrics. Tracks ‘All The Rage‘ and ‘Streetcar‘ featured tight guitar work and improved vocals from lead singer Kris Coombs-Roberts who has more prominent clean vocals this time around. ‘History‘ slows things down with a beautifully constructed ballad that is honestly one of the bands best songs. It is regarded as a brilliant follow up from their debut.

The continued success of the first two albums came to a halt with their third release, Tales Don’t Tell Themselves. Designed as a concept album about a fisherman lost at sea in murky waters, many fans were not keen on the lack of screams, breakdowns, and generally pop-rock vibes the album produced. Singles ‘Into Oblivion (Reunion)‘ and ‘Walk Away‘ still packed a punch and featured grandiose instrumentals to give the band a new sound. While not hugely popular with fans, I’ve always appreciated the album for what it is; a solid pop-rock album that tells a great story of a lost fisherman coming to terms with his fears of the sea.

After a quick turnaround, FFAF released Memory and Humanity in 2008. Arguably the band’s best album in their discography, this album featured thought-provoking lyrics and a prog-rock musical style that showed them combining the best parts of their earlier works with the concepts of Tales Don’t Tell Themselves. ‘Maybe I Am?‘ explores complex themes of life, belonging, and religion while ‘Charlie Don’t Surf‘ serves as an ode to Apocalypse Now. Memory and Humanity showed the bands immense versatility, featuring well constructed story-centric tracks, ballads, and a few heavier guitar tracks layered with screaming vocals.

2011 saw the release of the fan favorite album; Welcome Home Armageddon. This album saw the band returning to their roots with a more raw, unfiltered sound that was present on Casually Dressed. The album produces a palpable amount of energy that never lets off the throttle. Every member is at the top of their game as the lead guitar features sensational solos and the drums as chaotic as ever. ‘Sixteen‘s intense guitar licks accompany the story of a young men at war and ‘Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t‘ is one of FFAF’s hardest songs ever featuring harsh vocals and a breakdown that will get the heart pumping.

In ‘2013’ the band released another concept album with Conduit. The band focused heavily on creating fast-paced, shorter songs, that featured more prominent punk-rock roots. Building upon that, FFAF retained their original style while adding on a plethora of harder guitar riffs and breakdowns. The vocals are harsh and heavily inspired with hardcore roots. Much of the bands melodies and story-based lyrics were abandoned as FFAF aimed to make a heavier album without these elements. While critically praised, I saw this album as a bit repetitive and a disappointment considering their potential to push genre limits.

The band’s final release, Chapter and Verse was released in January of this year. This album follows in the footsteps of Conduit, but manages to include a lot of the flourishes of their earlier work to give it a nice variety. The production feels raw and emotional, giving the band members a lot to work with. ‘You’ve Got A Bad Case of the Religions‘ features familiar guitar patterns, but the added double bass and the rolling drunks show off the album’s uniqueness. ‘1%‘ is a great throwback track that features some of FFAF’s strongest lyrics. This is the perfect album for the band to go out on as it incorporates every element of the band’s evolution over the last 14 years.

Through all of these releases, one thing remains clear: Funeral For a Friend made an incredible impact in the post-hardcore scene and the UK Rock scene. They helped revitalize the UK rock genre and set a precedent with Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation as a must-have album of any post-hardcore enthusiast. Funeral For a Friend, you will sorely be missed.

Written by: Patrick Marion

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