Review Summary: A step down, but still solid.
Long time fans hyped about Funeral For a Friend's seeming return to form (read: their early 2000s post-hardcore roots) on Welcome Home Armageddon
will likely be disappointed by Conduit
's change of pace. Not because they've made changes to their sound – Funeral For a Friend have never been content to rest on their laurels. It certainly isn't because the Welsh quintet have done another 180 and returned to the melodic rock of Memory and Humanity
. Rather, the record stakes out new territory in ways which seem to deliberately discard the elements that made their previous record so well received. Whereas Welcome Home Armageddon
was a fairly flashy effort in the vein of the band's early work, Conduit
strips their sound down to the basics. The final result is just about what one might expect; Conduit
is certainly a solid outing, and just might be Funeral For a Friend's heaviest, most energetic record to date. At the same time, it lacks the same flair of their more celebrated releases.
"Spine" sets the tone for much of the record; Funeral For a Friend's rhythm section is as strong as it's ever been, with guitarists Kris Coombs-Roberts and Gavin Burrough laying down some of the band's tightest riffs to date. Occasionally, they'll drift into more familiar melodic territory, such as in "Best Friends and Hospital Beds" or the superb "High Castles," but for the most part Conduit
forgoes the poppier hooks that have been such a mainstay on previous albums. In this respect, the record is a bit of a grower. Of the eleven tracks, only "Elements" and the aforementioned "High Castles" immediately jump out as standout tracks, and the latter is more reflective of the material heard on Welcome Home Armageddon
than Funeral For a Friend's new direction. Although there is subtle enough variation that Conduit
doesn't have a completely monolithic sound, much of the record works best as a collective whole. In this respect, the album's twenty-nine minute runtime is complimentary to their riff-based, metalcore-tinged sound; with most of the album's songs under three minutes in length, they get to the point and rarely overstay their welcome.
Despite this, Conduit
is limited in significant ways. Most notably, the record is hampered by an uncharacteristic lack of diversity. While, as previously noted, repeated listening suggests that it isn't as same-y as early responses to Conduit
have suggested, the variety that spiced up Welcome Home Armageddon
and Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation
seems to be missing. With such a short runtime, this isn't as major an issue as it may otherwise have been, but Conduit
can feel a little overbearing at times. Likewise, the reigning in of Kris Coombs-Roberts' lead guitarwork deprives the band of one of their most potent elements. His technical leads do play a major role in (you guessed it) "High Castles," but for the most part, they're either drowned out by the rhythm section or missing entirely. Ultimately, Conduit
is a fair step down from the resurgence that was Welcome Home Armageddon
. But having said that, it remains a solid addition to their discography.