Back with some fire in their hearts from the success of latest full-length ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ – an album desperately needed after their previous two miss-the-mark album efforts – Bridgend’s Funeral For A Friend have thankfully revived themselves into a scene they helped mould since their debut ‘Casually Dressed…’ dropped in 2003. With one last tour around the UK in swing before heading back into the studio for a new album and to prove ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ wasn’t just a lucky fluke, this could be the start of a brand new future for the band.
Openers The Bunny The Bear (***) are easily the more unconventional concepts for a band in recent years. Joining the group of bands who strongly polarise the opinions of many, a lot will dismiss the partly masked outfit from the off. Admittedly the masks may confuse, but remove that aspect of the band and what you’re left with is a rather tight sounding live act, delivering experimental post-hardcore with force as seen in ‘Aisle’ an closer ‘Ocean Floor’ with a graceful undertone.
The Amity Affliction (****) however are just an immediate step-up from the animalised openers. ‘Youngbloods’ showcases the band’s blend of Ahren Stringer‘s catchy melodic hooks against Joel Birch‘s stark barks and roars. With only a few visits to the UK thus far before being signed over to Roadrunner Records a few short weeks prior to this tour, it’s almost a certainty that TAA will return pretty soon, exposing their Australian post-hardcore to bigger masses, undoubtedly increasing the amount of fans already strongly dominating the Academy’s crowd.
Making one of their very few appearance to Manchester whenever they stop off in the UK, Escape The Fate (***) are a hottly anticipated addition to this tour’s line-up. Frontman Craig Mabbitt and Max Green trade vocal duties back and forth, composing a far more roughed up version of the tracks like ‘Issues’, ’10 Miles Wide’ and ‘Flood’ than you’ve come to know through their slick clean album recordings. Though perhaps not the stellar performance many had come to expect to make up for their wait, they surely didn’t disappoint.
It may be strange to think that perhaps all of these support acts might not even exist today if it weren’t for the night’s headliners. Funeral For A Friend (****) have undeniably climbed out of their little funk they slipped into from 2007 to 2010. Brand new track ‘High Castles’ sees the Welsh quintet at their most hectic, fast-paced and ferocious than they ever were during their “slightly disappointing” years, and ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ material like ‘Sixteen’ and ‘Broken Foundation’ seems like the step they were meant to take originally after 2005’s ‘Hours’. The old hits sound fresh and bulked up too, bringing out their rarer numbers like ‘This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak’ to appease their more rooted fanbase of yore. Despite obvious and self-confessed vocal problems from Matt Davies making itself prominent throughout the set, FFAF deliver a worthwhile set of a range of their material from old to new, and a notable crowd participant named Finch standing upon the shoulders of others in the middle of circle pit too.
Funeral For A Friend are back in the game without a shadow of a doubt, into the post-hardcore genre they helped to build and develop as we know it today. Provided their next full-length is as impressive as ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’, they may well be doing it all over again.
Written by Zach Redrup