The Welsh post-hardcore rockers, Funeral for a Friend, have had an interesting career. In 2003, the band immediately became popular with Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation. More often than not, every one of their subsequent albums have been compared to this titular work. Perhaps a disappointing trend to the majority (this reviewer excluded), FFAF slowly steered away from this heavy atmosphere and screams, and steadily took a more "conventional rock" approach with Hours, Tales Don't Tell Themselves, and Memory and Humanity. To be honest, I enjoyed all of these albums, especially the concept in TDTT. I can appreciate the decision to experiment with different sounds to grow as a band.
In 2011, after a bit of line-up change (something the band has dealt with through the years), FFAF re-established itself as a hard-hitting powerhouse with Welcome Home Armageddon. One could possibly call it a "return to form". I would say that it was just a warm-up for Conduit, one of the band's heaviest and finest work since Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation. Dare I say, the finest? I think so.
Conduit is the ultimate blend of all past albums. It's full of energy and slaying riffs infused with catchy choruses, most noticeable in songs like the first single from the album, "Best Friends and Hospital Beds", as well as "Nails". Some have claimed this renewed energy was sparked by the arrival of the band's newest member, drummer Pat Lundy. Perhaps, but it also feels like the rest of the band literally broke all their shackles holding them down and needed somewhere to release all that pent up energy. Matt Davies' vocals sound amazing throughout the album, rough and full of aggressive urgency. But, it's the melodies subtly interwoven in the aggression that really bring Conduit together.
It's hard to choose a favorite amongst the songs on Conduit. I did find myself really enjoying "Elements", which bassist Richard Boucher described as the hardest song to write on Conduit (see article on Alt Press). Well gents, you definitely nailed it! Note also that most songs don't reach beyond the three minute mark, which keeps each song from getting stale. If anything, I just wanted more.
Anyway, if you haven't listened to Conduit yet, you better get on that. It's one of the best, if not, the best album FFAF has written, to date. I've had the album on repeat all day and I'm looking forward to adding this album to my sprint-interval running playlist.