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From out of nowhere, a new FNM album! - 84%

enshrinedtemple, November 5th, 2015

Well here we go again! Another year and another comeback album. Faith No More surprise many with a new album after reuniting to tour some 5 or 6 years ago. Their lineup is the same that put out Album of the Year way back in 1997. So what we get here is a band that has longevity and familiarity between each other. The years have melted away the bad blood and that same old Faith No More is ever present with Sol Invictus.

Comeback albums are not usually ones that make a career or have a band reinventing the wheel. More often than not they do not live up to the hype of previous material and are seen as a blemish on a discography. Faith No More’s Sol Invictus does not fall into that negative trend though. The band had a number of things going for them at the time of release. First of all FNM are always full of surprises musically. With the talented musicians involved, there is genre hopping mayhem that has become a trademark to FNM. They also had plenty of time to gel and tour with each other which undoubtedly eased a lot of problems when it came to laying down the tracks. It is also important to note that the album was done by themselves in their own studio. These guys have been in the record label business long enough. It was about time they made the album they wanted to make without the pressure. Every seasoned band deserves to try this in their career and FNM kept the material fresh by doing so.

Sol Invictus is a compact album clocking in at under 40 minutes. It's a short but equally awarding journey. They kept the best 10 tracks they could come up with and trimmed the fat. In these 40 minutes, there is the variety that you have come to expect from FNM but it's obvious there is a higher maturity to the album. All the musicians know exactly what to do to get the job done and they feed off each other throughout.

Faith No More always had an experimental style to their music and Sol Invictus is no exception. Roddy Bottum really puts the art and creativity into the songs with his keyboard. The single Superhero is a highlight where his keyboarding provides a hypnotic and catchy element. The first single Motherfucker is given an eerie dark atmosphere and the keyboards during the intro of the song prove to be another highlight. Mike Patton seems to be in a darker mood and he gives a sinister vibe to the moody album. The title of the album really fits with the music because Sol Invictus just sounds evil and overall the songs follow that theme.

There are a few negatives to this album that stood out however. Mike Patton is uncharacteristically tame on the album. With age he has surely matured but the screams and madman like approach are kept to a minimum. He uses his clean voice but also uses a deep baritone like voice in many of the songs like the title track Sol Invictus. Still it is hard to criticize the vocals when Patton is just doing what he can do to be another instrument within the music. Another negative is the length because I felt there should have been another heavy hitting song like Superhero. There are too many mid tempo or even ballad like songs present. Back from the dead leaves a bad taste in the mouth as the album sputters to a finish.

Overall there are so many positives about Sol Invictus but it is far from perfect. It will never reach the lengths of their previous albums or hit singles but it should be seen as a pleasant surprise to longtime fans. They really came from out of nowhere with a release of a new album in 2015. They didn't owe us anything but they provide one of the better rock albums of the year.

Sol Invictus - 73%

H_P Buttcraft, September 16th, 2015

“Sol Invictus” is the first album from hard rock titans Faith No More since 1997. After disbanding, each member went on to form different projects and only started touring together again a couple of years ago at a few select music festivals. A band that was once on top of the modern rock charts have seemed to wipe their slate clean and show the world what a Twenty First Century Faith No More sounds like with “Sol Invictus”. One thing I can tell from “Sol Invictus” is that they certainly are not the same band they were when their smash hit single “Epic” came out in 1990.

There isn’t a whole lot that I can say about Faith No More that hasn’t already been written before. They are a California-based alternative hard rock band that formed in 1979 by Roddy Bottum, Bill Gould and Mike Bourdin that became popular for incorporating a huge variety of different musical styles into their compositions. Elements of funk music, blues, punk and even hip-hop are expressed in the bands’ melodic versatility. With their third album “The Real Thing”, it became the band’s breakthrough into the mainstream of the music industry. If you were alive in the 1990’s and saw at least two hours of MTV, you more than likely encountered Faith No More before from their iconic music video for “Epic” that concludes with a live fish flopping around on the ground and a TV set exploding while a soft, somber piano plays in the background.

As a revolt to this new appeal to a mass audience, the band released “Angel Dust” in 1992, which challenged industry and cultural standards. Although the album didn’t satisfy their American audiences, it remains Faith No More’s best selling album outside of the States, selling more than three million copies. “Angel Dust” was a tremendous artistic and commercial triumph. It was Mike Patton’s first album where he had a role in the songwriting as he joined the band during a time where all of the songs for “The Real Thing” were already written. “Angel Dust”, in my opinion, is still the single greatest record I have heard to this day.

After guitarist Jim Martin left the band, the changes that Faith No More made to their sound were huge and perhaps the contrast was a bit much for their fanbase. 1995’s “King For a Day, Fool For A Lifetime” and 1997’s “Album of the Year” were two very strong albums from the band but the world hasn’t heard much from Faith No More since then. Mike Patton has been working as a voice actor as well a fronting the bands Tomahawk and Fantômas while the other members of Faith No More have gone on to do such things as write movie scores, run record labels and most of all perform music.

But recently, as soon as 2013, Faith No More has begun to make a come back. Here’s what Faith No More had to say about “Sol Invictus” which was published on their official website and helps clear up some of the mystery of their absence:

“What's changed is that this year, for the first time, we've all decided to sit down together and talk about it. And what we've discovered is that time has afforded us enough distance to look back on our years together through a clearer lens and made us realize that through all the hard work, the music still sounds good, and we are beginning to appreciate the fact that we might have actually done something right.”

Some of the songs on “Sol Invictus” come out hard and gritty with a touch of class, mostly from Roddy Bottum’s keyboards/piano like their song “Superhero”. And there are a lot of tracks on “Sol Invictus” have this sun-stained and color burned rock song. Tracks like “Sunny Side Up” and “Motherfucker” got a lot of that catchy art rock that is soured or twisted. On songs like “Seperation Anxiety”, you hear a very pensive and dramatic expression. They sing about “being a part of me and not apart from me,” perhaps related to the band being separated for so long and now they are reunited to make music again because that is what is true to them. The vocals by Patton go from a heavy pant to sweet and high ranged vocals. This reminded me of lots of sounds from older works that can be heard on here like from “Angel Dust” but with some of the viciousness that’s unique to John Hudson’s guitar playing. Patton’s screams on this album are some of the strongest I’ve heard on a Faith No More album although I’ve heard crazier from his work with Mr. Bungle.

“Cone of Shame” exhibits more of Patton’s affinity for both rich and deep vocal tones and high range, soulful vocals. There is a strong rockabilly vibe but with a crime noir twist to it. One of the album’s heaviest moments are on this track.

The album’s unquestionable single is the song “Motherfucker”. I supposed this is, similar to songs they’ve recorded in the past, a giant middle finger to how business-minded individuals in the music industry simple don’t care anymore if you release a single called “Motherfucker” anymore because look at all of the popular rap and hip hop songs that are at the very top of the music charts right now. “Motherfucker”, much like hip hop artists today, deliver the word “Motherfucker” as something that just purely rolls off the tongue that is extremely responsive with the tone of voice it’s being said in.

Mike Patton provides his true, over-caffeinated craft of speech and holding vocal notes on the song and turns that word into a sleazy rock radio single for the absent radio stations out there that will play the new Faith No More in a world where Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and of course μtorrent exist. Perhaps Faith No More have reunited to celebrate the death of Rock Radio after being held accountable for their absence from it with the exception of “Epic” and every now and then I’ll hear “A Small Victory”.

I still consider myself a fan of the band but I am handing “Sol Invictus” a faint seven out of ten. Although the album is daring and it is very exciting that Faith No More is making music again after an 18-year long hiatus, the music conveys this fatigue from trying to reconnect with an alienated group of fans who have mostly moved on. And it certainly doesn’t make the effort to try and appeal to a new generation of fans but without any real guess as to whether there will be another album, perhaps this isn’t their foreseeable goal and the apathy for this audience is more than obvious to me. The music is genuinely well made and the songs are expertly crafted. Everything is squeaky clean and has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb to look and sound very neat and handmade. I just didn’t think it’s their strongest release they’ve ever come out with.

Originally published on Metal-Temple.com, 5-09-2015.

A Great Comeback Album - 86%

phillipbuzz, May 27th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Ipecac Recordings

This is the band's first album in 18 years. Most bands don't do a very good comeback album; Faith No More did an excellent job with theirs. This album sounds like some of their previous work but at the same time it is entirely different. The songwriting on this album was great. This album was much more progressive than any of their previous work. The album has moments that are fast and heavy, but there are also moments that are slow and very mellow. The album is actually quite complex with all the instruments specifically the guitar work, this really shows in "Separation Anxiety."

Mike's vocals on this album are experimental as usual. He does nice operatic singing and then he does some deep growling singing which is very prevalent in "Cone of Shame." His range really shows on this album. There are tracks on the album such as "Separation Anxiety", "Rise Of The Fall", and "Matador" where his vocals really stick out. The lyrics on the album are very silly. Pretty much the only serious song on the album is the title track "Sol Invictus." Even though the lyrics aren't serious they are very well written.

The production on this album was very nice. You can hear all the instruments very clearly and not one of the instruments is overpowering the others. This album is considerably mellower than the previous Faith No More albums but the album is far from boring. There are songs that are kind of upbeat such as "From The Dead" and "Black Friday." Then there are darker songs such as "Sol Invictus" and "Cone of Shame." It's a nice balance that keeps your attention. Sol Invictus is a lot more structured than albums such as "Album of the Year" and "Angel Dust." "Superhero" probably has the best structure on the album. The band feels very energetic on this album, especially Mike's vocals.

Overall, this is a great comeback album and possibly one of their best albums. I don't think that they could have done any better with this album. There aren't songs that are bad on this album; they're all very equally matched. I think fans of the album "Angel Dust" will like this album a lot, it has similar elements.