Funeral For a Friend were one of the most hyped bands of 2003, their two EPs Between Order and Model and Four Ways to Scream Your Name caused expectations to soar for this, their debut album. Was the hype worth it?
The album opens with a heavy riff, reminiscent of their heroes Iron Maiden and charges headlong into a melodic, yet fierce chorus of "Your white wedding dress" . Suffice to say, Rookie of The Year is a pretty strong opener.
Next up is "Bullet Theory" which was released in the UK as a single, though it was paired with the fantastically monikered "She Drove Me to Daytime TV" as it is not particularly radio friendly, with nothing really resembling a "hook". It's a good song, but not a great one. Not a good early sign.
Juneau, the renamed Juno from 4 ways... is still a cracking melodic hardcore (ish) tune, but the re-recorded version forsakes a lot of the originals intensity and screaming for a lot more melody. I can't decide which version I prefer, but most would say the original is better just because it's the cool thing to say.
Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings is possibly my favorite track on the album, very melodic with little screaming but it is one of the best anti-war songs I've heard in a while, subtly political without being too overbearing like a rotund man named Mike can be sometimes.
"Escape Artists Never Die", "Storytelling", "Moments Never Faded"
and single "She Drove Me to Daytime TV" all seem to blend into one another, with nothing really distinguishing them from the pack. The fact that two are re-recorded from previous EPs with little noticeable difference irritates somewhat and really drags down the album as a whole. These are not bad songs, there is just nothing memorable about them.
Another re-recorded track, "Red is The New Black" - the group's attack on the media, is another example of how the band has made a song "softer". This is one case where I can definitely say I prefer the original. Again, this new version doesn't suck or anything - in fact, most of my friends who hadn't heard the original loved the song. I just can't help but feel cheated hearing it.
Luckily "Your Revolution is a Joke" arrives just in time to save the album. An absolutely gorgeous acoustic track, again berating the media "Don't believe their headlines/ they poison our minds every day" Matt Davies croons. They used the instrumental version of this track as an intro song at a few shows I saw them do.
Waking Up (inside my own paralysis) is another screamo/extremo by numbers tune, but the track that follows it (and closes the album) is just unbelievable - "Novella" may just be F4AF"s finest song. It's a near perfect example of the genre and needs to be heard.
Overall, it is a very good album and those who are totally unfamiliar with the band's previous releases will love it. Those who own the earlier EPs will like it, not a lot, but they'll like it.