Whilst their groundbreaking debut album Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation propelled them into the spotlight, Funeral For A Friend have never been able to break free from its shackles; everything they’ve done since has been scrutinised against it, usually unfairly. However, their sixth album Conduit shows a band who are aware of their legacy but don’t rest on their laurels, and they sound as fresh as they did ten years ago.
While previous efforts have hinted at hardcore, Conduit practically screams it. This is FFAF’s heaviest album to date without compensating on big choruses and melodies, and it works best when all this is blended together, such as on tracks Best Friends And Hospital Beds and The Distance, which has one of the catchiest choruses they’ve written for a long time.
They have also overcome their tendency to end albums on a slightly lacklustre note – closer High Castles is one of the best tracks on the album. Guitarists Kris Coombs-Roberts and Gavin Burrough are outstanding throughout; whether it’s the sweep-picked solos of Nails or the precise riffing of Death Comes To Us All, this is a guitar duo at the top of their game.
Conduit does have some pitfalls; even though frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye delivers his rawest performance yet, lyrics tend to get lost under his grating shouts on tracks like Grey. Also, the short, punchy hardcore elements of the album means it comes in at under half an hour in length, which does leave you slightly longing for more.
Many have said that Conduit is a return to their roots and debut, but this isn’t an album that looks back; this is FFAF progressing and sounding tighter than ever, making music that they want to make. While it isn’t perfect, it’s an indication that one of the UK’s finest rock bands are here to stay.