Funeral For A Friend emerged at the turn of the century, fuelling the British hardcore scene with a raw energy and youthfulness that at first defined their sound. Almost fifteen years later and with half a dozen albums already under their belt, the Welsh post-hardcore group are back with their seventh studio album, Chapter And Verse. The musicians themselves may have grown up, however it is clear that they have retained that energy, producing an album that is almost relentless in its intensity.
Chapter And Verse kicks off with vocalists Matthew Davies-Kreye’s distinctive unhinged screaming, which quickly becomes a defining feature of the album. The lyrics occasionally delve into political territory throughout this album, especially in the tracks You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself and Inequality, however Kreye’s delivery tends to stand in the way of his messages, his screaming often distracting from the lyrics making them at times indistinguishable.
You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself does have more clarity with its almost sing-along chorus and opening vocal sample of a woman proclaiming, ‘let it be that human rights are woman’s rights and woman’s rights are human rights, once and for all.’ However, this is not so much a song about woman’s rights, but rather a man’s right to be liked by feminists despite being male, which tends to reduce the impact of the opening vocal grab.
Throughout Chapter And Verse the vocals remain relentlessly intense, however this does not disguise the talent of the other musicians. While You’ve Got A Bad Case Of The Religions shows off some impressive drumming, it’s the hooky guitar riff that defines third track Pencil Pusher. More melodic than the opening two tracks, Pencil Pusher relieves the intensity of the album just a little.
The same can be said for main single 1%, with its melodic guitar line and Kreye’s slightly more subtle vocal delivery. However this track is still raw and passionate, building to a roaring climax.
The bizarrely titled After All These Years… Like A Lightbulb Going Off In My Head stands out as one of the weaker tracks on this album. While it too boasts some impressive percussion, there is a confronting disparity between the vocals and instrumentals, which seem to work against each other, losing the tight unity of previous tracks. Eventually the track recovers a little, slowing to connect with the vocals, however After All These Years still doesn’t make an easy listen.
Chapter And Verse is an unusual release from the Welsh rockers. While Funeral For A Friend remain pumped with an enviable amount of raw energy, at times it feels excessive. Certain tracks on this album are of such high intensity that some listeners may find it overwhelming; others however will thrive on their relentless energy. While it will certainly not speak to everyone, long-time fans of the band should be satisfied by this new release.