Bridgend Post-Hardcore outfit FFAF have been fairly prolific since their inception 12 years ago.  Debut Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation is hailed as a landmark and while releases two, three and four dabbled in more melodic and eclectic overtones, album number six is a return to the Hardcore-Punk that saw them achieve gold certification so early in their career.  With lead vocalist Matthew Davies-Kreye and six-stringer Kris Coombs-Roberts still steering the ship, Conduit is the second release following an overhaul of the rythmn section; which usually alters the equilibrium of a stable core.  But in this case, new blood equals renewed vigour; albeit slightly prosaic.  As with Casually Dressed and 11’s Welcome Home Armageddon there’s ‘statement of intent’ scrawled all over each track on Conduit; Davies-Kreye and new sticksman Pat Lundy in particular, leading the line in depth, energy and magnitude.  But where Armageddon was ferocious, no frills pop-punk, Conduit meets expectation only occassionally; too often commonplace, routine and unimaginative across a blunt and brusque personality.  Having said that, a fair majority is unurring and stirring – opener ‘Spine’ and ‘The Distance’ in particular marking a real return to form.  ‘Best Friends And Hospital Beds’ carries the fight before the raw emotion of ‘Nails’, Travelled’ and ‘Elements’ all layer Davies-Kreye’s consumate hardcore vocal melodies on top of some seriously heart pounding percussion.  And where ‘Sun-Less’ has a commercial affection, closer ‘High Castles’ rides a riff Zakk Wylde would be proud of, placing Conduit firmly in the tightly wound, intense and customary hardcore corner for which they probably should be proud; on the whole.  (6)


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