Sound: Revitalised and refreshed by new blood, the first offering from FFAF 2.0 is a visceral calling card from a band who once again have something to prove, and prove it they do.
Having lost bassist Gareth Davies following 4th album Memory and Humanity and original guitarist Darran Smith earlier this year, FFAF's boat has been well and truly rocked. The fact that they haven't sunk Into Oblivion is testament enough to the band's character; in fact the inverse is the case. FFAF 2.0 is a living, breathing and roaring embodiment of Deus ex Machina. With Gareth's original replacement on bass Gav Burrough switching to guitar and Rich Boucher (both formerly of welsh post hardcore act Hondo McLean) stepping into the four (well, more like five) string shaped breach, the band has had its appetite restored. Rocked by departures, the band once again has something to prove and they excel in doing so quite spectacularly.
Opener Serpents in Solitude is the heaviest thing that FFAF have done since Seven Ways To Scream Your Name was released over half a decade ago. A barrage of riffs raining from left right and centre is married perfectly with vocalist Matt Davies' colossal hooks and Ryan Richards' utterly thunderous drum work. The second half of the sucker punch is Vultures, driven by Boucher's sleazy 5 string bass rumble, destructive riffs and probably THE chorus of the EP. Third track Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't is the offering here that is most tinged with punk rock vibe, with gang vocals and spat vocals reminiscent of the band's earlier work, but brought effortlessly up to date. Closer Sixteen gives more than a passing nod to the band's melodic work which dominated their last two LP's but has enough in common with the rest of the material here not to sound out of place. // 9
Lyrics: Matt Davies has always possessed one of the great voices in british rock music and even though this EP is by and large a heavy, almost metallic offering, his melodies do not suffer. Lyrically, the themes are similar to the four tracks that appeared on 2009's Your History Is Mine but with the focus changing from the working class to the youth, and as usual are very competent. Choruses on all four of the tracks are certainly memorable. During the clatter of the verses (especially on the first three tracks) some of the clarity is lost in the mix, but the lines themselves are up to his usual high standard, holding their own above the raging riffery. // 9
Overall Impression: The fact that FFAF have recovered from lineup changes so drastic this quickly (Darran only formally left on August 1st) is nothing short of phenomenal, a bit like Lazarus in fast forward. The fact that this EP is only a precursor to a full length LP out in March 2011 suggests that there is more than just life in this formerly ageing dog yet. Put simply, If the four tracks on the greatest hits CD from last year left you wanting more, more is here and it's heavy, melodic and very, very impressive. // 9