The British hardcore rock outfit Funeral for a Friend's follow-up to their gold-certified debut album is wrought with internal references. Written and produced in the creative musical goldmine that is Seattle (the band even spent time recording in Pearl Jam's legendary studio), the album is part emo, metal pop and part biography, and as gloomy, dark and stormy as the city which fostered its recording. Helmed by Terry Date (Soundgarden, Pantera, Limp Bizkit), the band sounds like they have indeed spent some time inside of the tumbler of fame and success, coming out a bit ragged but more polished on the other side. Sounding well honed from grueling months of touring, the band is sounding tighter than ever and Hours is a solid follow-up for a band that has up until this point been living in the U.S. under the giant shadow of other pop metal top sellers.
Like Linkin Park, Funeral knows how to ignite a blazing melody, as on the scorching Hours opener "All The Rage." Their touring schedule has paid off in spades, as at this point the rhythm section sounds positively waterproof. On the solid "Hospitality," they build a tightly honed rock ballad that sounds like they were schooled in everything from Metallica to Van Halen. Matt Davies has matured into a seasoned lyricist and vocalist, giving him more range for their poppy metal jams. The crisp and crackling layered guitars of "History" immediately call to mind mid-career Billy Corgan. Though the band is at their best on fresh and melodic tracks like these, they certainly know how to lower rock's great hammer as they do on the debut single "Streetcar" and "Monsters."
They do leverage their versatility quite a bit on Hours, melding forceful hard rock and carefully drawn pop tracks in equal measure. "Alvarez" is strong and tightly woven mid-tempo rock, and on "Sonny" the band invokes their inner Radiohead, coming up with interesting, atmospheric, synth-flavored Brit pop. This is uncommon territory for a 20-something hard rock band, but the risk is well worth the reward for these young Brit rockers. On their second outing, the band drives harder and deeper into bumpier, heartier, and ultimately more interesting, terrain.
By Rachel Parker