Review Summary: Welcome Home Armageddon is the closest FFAF have been to finding out what they are really capable of doing.
I always hoped Funeral for a Friend would return to the good old days. Not saying that either of the last two albums were bad, they both have their gems. Some of my favorite tracks ("The Diary", "Out of Reach", "Constant Illuminations") are from those albums. They just seem a little strange with the rest of their discography. I feel if they would have stuck with their original sound, added a few things here and there, and refined their sound a bit more; this could have been their 3rd full length album, an almost perfect combination of the first two albums with a splash of new ideas spread throughout. Instead they kept trying their hand at new ideas with mixed results and never really settled on anything. It was like they just kept jumping from sinking ship to sinking ship when they could have stayed with the first boat, made some repairs, and remodeled. But hey, they tried something new and took some risks. I respect them for that.
Like I said, this album is a damn near perfect combination of Hours
and Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation
, along with bits and pieces of the other two. It hits all the right notes so closely… except for the singing vocals. They can be a bit hit and miss for me. They must have used a pitch corrector on the previous works (except for Casually Dressed
because I felt the same way about it) because I don’t ever remember him straining his voice like he does on this album. It’s fairly scattered throughout, except for a few specifics (most of "Man Alive" and the endings of "Spinning Over the Island" and "Welcome Home Armageddon"). The last track, "Welcome Home Armageddon" is the strongest example of this. Sometimes I just skip the last part and start the CD over. It sucks, because it’s a really fun, catchy, upbeat song and the last minute and a half just kind of ruins the experience. The singing vocals are really my only complaint. The screaming is solid, the lyrics are generally pretty good and the drums and bass are playing their part. My favorite part of FFAF is the guitar work though. It always has been.
The guitar parts just work their magic throughout the album, running back and forth between laying down some nice harmonies and then complementing each other with some fantastic leads over the top of some pretty interesting rhythm parts. Whether it be the gloriously heavy main riff of "Aftertaste", the sublimely harmonized bridge on "Damned if You Do, Dead if You Don’t" or the much welcomed (and new for the band) guitar solo on "Broken Foundation", the guitarists are the stars of these 12 tracks. "Broken Foundation" might just be one of the best songs FFAF have written. It is an intense, heavy, fast, furious, guitar driven screaming fest that just begs to be repeated. Oh yes. The screaming vocals are back. It has been a long run without them, being scattered to only a few songs ("The End of Nothing" and "Constant Illuminations" are all I can think of at the moment) here and there since the first album. I think FFAF really nailed down the musical styles they were going for on this record.
There are about 4 distinct styles on the album: the first being the upbeat, almost punk-like songs (“Old Hymns”, “Sixteen”, “Welcome Home Armageddon”) which tend to have more focus on lead guitar; next are the songs of the more hardcore nature (“Front Row Seats to the End of the World”, “Spinning Over the Island”, “Broken Foundation”) which lean more towards heavier riffs, harmonized guitar parts and screaming and singing vocals; third, the songs that combine the best of both worlds (“Aftertaste” and “Damned if You Do, Dead if You Don’t”); and finally, the slower, more mellow tracks (“Owls” and “Medicated”). There are only a few of the slower FFAF songs that I really enjoy (“Drive”, “Your Revolution is a Joke”, “Sonny”) and “Medicated” is not up at the top of that list. I am not saying the song itself is bad; it’s just not one of my favorites and doesn’t really stand out like the rest of the tracks do. If I had to pick, I would say “Damned if You Do", “Broken Foundation", and “Aftertaste” would be my top songs for the album.
I have had this since the day it came out and I still enjoy giving it a listen to this date. I have heard the guys are working on a new material and I am excited to hear what they are going to do next.