Back in 1998, Faith No More announced they were calling it quits. After 13 long years and six remarkable albums, no one could have ever imagined a reunion would ever come from these legends of alternative funk/rock. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened in the winter of 2009. News of a Faith No More reunion sent shockwaves across the rock n’ roll world, as music lovers delightfully buzzed with inexorable anticipation and excitement.
The Second Coming Tour and a greatest hits album soon followed, as well as numerous outstanding festival performances around the globe. The band then took a short breather, and began preparing their first batch of new material since 1997. Now at long last, nearly two decades since their last album, Faith No More has released their seventh masterful creation, Sol Invictus.
The opening title track commences with the percussion stylings of keyboardist Roddy Bottum and drummer Mike Bordin. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the mad genius Mike Patton jumps right into action with his demonically spine-chilling vocal performance. Patton’s technique has been sharpened and strengthened considerably over the past 18 years. Throughout seemingly countless musical projects, Michael Patton has grown into a vociferous force of nature and arguably stands as one of rock’s greatest singers of all time. Nowhere else is his vocal range so evident than on the towering masterpiece, “Matador.” Every essential building block of Faith No More emerges on this mind-bending, shape-shifting, sonic journey into sound. The arrangements are stunning and the production is of unparalleled perfected beauty.
The album’s lead single, “Motherfucker” was released in late 2014 and is by far one the strangest selections from the record. No doubt a unique choice for the lead single, but we’d be foolish to expect anything less than the bizarre from the twisted mind of Mike Patton. “Get the motherfucker on the phone,” snarls a frenzied Patton in this sinister song calling for accountability.
The follow-up single, “Superhero” sits somewhere in between The Real Thing and King for a Day material. It is a choppy and turbulent ride adorned with the blistering and almost inhuman wrath of Patton’s vocals charging full-steam ahead.
Other album highlights include the slick and sundry third track, “Sunny Side Up” along with the ever-changing “Rise of the Fall,” where a loungy introduction is suddenly transformed into a ferocious eruption of musical vehemence. “Black Friday“ and “Separation Anxiety” deliver the heaviest punches on the record, while “Cone of Shame” is a bluesy endeavor, noticeably different than the styles we are accustomed to hearing from Faith No More. Wrapping it all up is “From the Dead,” an almost doo-wop sounding finale, brimming with intermingling harmonies.
Overall, Sol Invictus sounds just like it should – a Faith No More album. You can hear it all, each and every element is in attendance (aside from guitarist Jim Martin of course). After all this time, the band still sounds astonishingly fresh, while holding true to their one-of-a-kind classic sound. Nothing sounds forced and the musical professionalism is clear-as-day. Should we expect more pleasant surprises to come from Faith No More? Who knows? But one thing is most definitely unmistakable; any time this particular gathering of musicians decides to start collaborating again, you can expect nothing but the absolute best. This is the real thing.
Stream the album in full until its May 19th release date here, via NPR.
By Joseph Conlon