Funeral for a Friend recorded Between Order And Model in 2002, back when they were barely through their A-Level exams and had enough product in their hair to contaminate a small Scandinavian village. It contains the first professional output the band ever recorded and has been reissued and re-mastered by End Hits Records, who have kindly bolstered its four track running time with a couple of bonuses and some live material.
As the recorded debut of the Bridgend quintet Between Order And Model shows the band as a raw force of nature. It’s a purer form of expression albeit one that’s far less refined than what many recent FFAF fans will be used to. The guitars have a rougher buzz to them and the vocal has less support from sophisticated software to help clean them up. It’s an interesting to contrast the recently released Conduit, an album that was an attempt to bring the band closer their original sound, with the real thing. One has the experience that comes with a decade of touring and recording and the other has the natural talent and unblinking confidence of a band with the desire to take on the world.
There are gives and takes in that relationship. You wonder what happened to the untempered emotion of The Art of American Football, but then again you’ve just hear the original version of Juneau and have become grateful they traded in some of the vocal extremities for a more graceful and considered approach. Juno, as it was called back in 2002 really is something to behold. Recorded in a phase of the band’s history where they believed that the vocal chords were evil and must be punished, the screamo in Juno communicates pain in a way that that dries the back of your throat and makes it sore. How was this man not rushed to hospital after every take? It’s clear that no amount of remixing could save the song, but remaking it could. The version that made it to Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation stands as an astonishing example of a band turning a bad song into a good one.
The album also shows us the greatest separation between the two building blocks that give the band their distinctive sound. The thrash of the galloping guitars and thundering double bass drums are more removed from the melodic intervals than they have been in any later incarnation. The room this gives the other to breath liberates both aspects of the music. The schizophrenic nature of the songs provided a texture and change of pace that ensures the EP constantly demands your attention. Later albums may have gained a focus by seemingly having one album do the thrash while others do the melody, but here with both side by side yet so distinctively detached it gives a sense of Funeral for a Friend’s individuality that could only ever be corrupted through time.