Just over 11 years have passed since ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’, the debut LP from Funeral For A Friend, changed the landscape of post-hardcore forever. It was an explosive start that propelled these Welsh lads to the head of the UK scene. But, that success can be a burden; even now ‘Casually Dressed…’ is the rule by which all subsequent FFAF releases are measured, and its shadow is long.
Vocalist Matt Davies-Kreye and his crew have done a lot of growing over the last decade. 2007’s ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’ and 2008’s ‘Memory And Humanity’ embraced poppier melodies and softer edges as the angst and emo of earlier offerings mellowed. Compare this to the taut, metallic aggression of 2013’s release ‘Conduit’ however, and the rumblings of a hardcore renaissance can be heard. ‘Chapter And Verse’ keeps this course.
Possibly the best thing that has happened to FFAF is a move away from the spotlight. The eye of the mainstream passed onto other acts long ago but, away from its scrutiny, the band have been able to stretch their legs and test the boundaries of what the music of FFAF can be. This latest release covers a great deal of ground, from some of their heaviest material to their most sweeping.
‘Chapter And Verse’ has the feel of a big band, a band with the capacity to create an enormous sound, channelling that potential scope into focus and intensity. If ‘Conduit’ was the sound of FFAF recapturing the driving anger of their youth, its follow-up is the sound of that malcontent, that dissatisfaction, bedding into their ageing bones.
Matt has clearly been doing some soul searching. Over 11 tracks he explores his closest relationships and his views on global issues. The most potent material is introspective however, as the frontman turns his gaze inward. Many miles have passed under the tour bus for the boy who first penned ‘Juneau’ and ‘She Drove Me To Daytime Television’, and new tracks like ‘After All These Years… Like A Lightbulb Going Off In My Head’ and the bitter-sweet bombast of final track ‘The Jade Tree Years Were My Best’ are bare and honest, swathed in a cocktail of cool-edged melancholia.
More than the self-pitying, midlife-muddied attempt to recapture lost youth the album could have been, ‘Chapter And Verse’ is triumphant; a heartfelt acknowledgement of the past, but an undeniable, hefty stomp forward.
Written by Grant Bailey (@GrantDBailey)