Alternative rock legends, Faith No More, return with the release of Sol Invictus, their first record since Album Of The Year, released eighteen years ago. After breaking up in 1998, the band had reformed in 2009 for a reunion tour, followed by a brief hiatus, and then a string of shows including festival dates. Little had been heard from Faith No More in the last few years, but the release of Sol Invictus has been highly anticipated since it was announced last year. Eighteen years is a long time to go without releasing new music, lets find out if Sol Invictus measures up to its hype, and the reputation of Faith No More.
The album starts off differently than most would expect; rather than a hard hitting number triumphantly and boldly announcing the return of Faith No More, the title track offers a slower, but intense introduction. The minor chords played across the piano, along with the low, gravelly vocals and excellent harmonies between the soft, echoed guitars and different voices made for a beautiful melancholic opening for Sol Invictus. “Superhero”, the albums second single, offers that edge which was expected to kick the album into gear. The song features a heavier tone while continuing a similar dark piano motif as heard in “Sol Invictus”. “Superhero” showcases the edge and energy found on their classic hit from 1989, “Epic”. The band dives into much more complicated musical territory on the sludgy, meter changing “Sunny Side Up” and the following, polymetric “Separation Anxiety” where the rhythm section demonstrates just how tight they can lock in together as a melodic line, at times the Jon Hudson’s lead guitar while others lead vocalist Mike Patton, goes off in a very different metric direction. Pianist, Roddy Bottum, Bassist, Billy Gould, and Drummer, Mike Bordin, are the glue, the sturdy foundation which allows for the chaos from Hudson and Patton to soar to obscene, but welcomed heights.
In the past, Faith No More has seamlessly infused a number of different musical styles into their material. Obvious elements include their metal inspirations found throughout the album, especially “Superhero” and “Separation Anxiety”. It is this heavier element, the distortion, the unison guitar and bass riffs, the fast pulsing guitar chugs which drives their songs forward, while adding a twisted, darker layer to their music. By all means, however, Faith No More are not a metal band; they earned their status as alternative heroes due to their inability to remain within the lines of a single genre. Funky rhythms and textures can be heard heavily in “Black Friday”, while also adding a repeated guitar line stemming from classic surf rock. Bluesy elements can also be found on “Sunny Side Up” and the verse on “Rise And Fall” features a distinctive Latin tango feel to it. It is in the small shifts between time signatures and effortlessly adding small elements from different musical styles which make Faith No More such a unique musical force, and make Sol Invictus stand out among most current rock albums.
The lowest point of the album would be the first single “Motherfucker”. By all means it is not a bad song, in fact it is quite good, but it has the least going on in it when compared to the rest of the record. Despite that, the harmonies and rhythmic juxtaposition between the two vocal parts add an excellent push and pull effect to the song. As mentioned, “Motherfucker” is not a bad song at all, and unlike most comeback albums, Sol Invictus is nearly flawless, marking the successful return of Faith No More. The closing track, “From The Dead” took a contrasting, cheery tone, with a cheeky sway and the reoccurring line “welcome home my friend”. I think it is safe to say we will hear more new music from Faith No More in the future after they tour this record. The band has a number of festival dates lined up for the summer, including the massive UK Download Festival, as well as a North American tour where we recently caught them in Toronto. Yes, indeed, this is a successful return of one of the biggest alternative bands of the 90’s. Sol Invictus is an excellent album and offers material fans both new and old will greatly enjoy, ultimately raising the standard of what modern alternative rock can and should be. Faith No More will come back to Toronto on August 7th, at the Ricoh Coliseum.
1: Sol Invictus
3: Sunny Side Up
4: Separation Anxiety
5: Cone Of Shame
6: Rise Of The Fall
7: Black Friday
10: From The Dead