For some, the choice of having two of the UK’s most promising math-infused hardcore bands supporting Funeral For A Friend, a band whose more recent material takes them down a more hardcore-flavoured route, may come as a surprise but on tonights showing it makes sense.
First up is Woking’s Emplyed To Serve. Despite some early ic problems, Justine Jones and company produce an outstanding display that is subtly technically proficient. Without a doubt Employed To Serve are as heavy as you can get. Even though the unfamiliarity of the band slightly hinders their set to those in attendance; heavy screamo has a tendency to come off as too similar. Nevertheless with guitarists Sammy Urwin and James Jackson adding math-like elements to their sound, ETS are more than your run-of-the-mill screamo band. Whilst Robbie Back’s drum work brings a sense of frenzied energy to the bands performance. With their debut full-length due to be released soon, we could be seeing and hearing more of Employed To Serve and you won’t hear us complaining. (3.5/5)
Vales are a band we’ve been admirers of for quite a few years here on Already Heard and for me personally, it’s been far to long since I last caught the Cornwall quartet. Playing to a larger crowd than Employed To Serve, Vales showcase their brand of mathcore vigorously and in a strong light. As Chlo Edwards skips around the stage and flings her body with every guttural scream, her band mates produce a tight-knight performance that leaves you hooked. Their brand of emotive hardcore is textured and dynamic with hints of post-rock showing just this. Even though their relentless energy may have not transferred in the growing crowd, Vales once again produced an impressive set that backs up the praise they’ve received in recent years. (3.5/5)
Since their emergence in 2001, Funeral For A Friend have pretty seen and done it all. Although they’re playing smaller venues these days, the South Wales group can still pull in a crowd. For the best part of an hour, FFAF mix it up with some old fan favourites and more recent material from their ‘Chapter and Verse’ album. Despite Matt’s vocals sounding slightly patchy early on, he’s still able to belt out the bands mix of post-hardcore and melodic hardcore. Guitarists Kris Coombs-Roberts and Gavin Burrough both showcase their talents by swapping lead throughout, whilst bassist Richard Boucher adds an underlying groove.
Newer songs such as ‘The Distance’ and ‘You’ve Got A Bad Case Of The Religions’ are heavier and rawer yet they still the same have vigour and favourable hooks akin to older material, that are easy to quickly become accustomed too. However older tracks such as ‘Bend Your Arms to Look Like Wings’, ‘Storytelling’, ‘Streetcar’ and ‘Juneau’ unsurprisingly get the biggest reaction of the night. They’re a nostalgic reminder of FFAF’s former glories yet its clear the quintet are proud to showcase new material. However songs such as ‘1%’ and ‘The Jade Tree Years Were My Best’ don’t quite have the desired effect and lack impact.
Nevertheless the penultimate date of this latest run of shows was pleasing enough for both die hard and casual fans. Sure it may have not been the nostalgic trip some had hoped, but Funeral For A Friend are a band that continue to look forward. They’re back out on the road in the summer. (3.5/5)