By: Raymond Westland
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Released on May 19, 2015 via Reclamation Recordings/Ipecac Recordings
When Faith No More broke up back in 1998 no one would expect the band coming back together. Everyone went their separate ways with singer Mike Patton being the most prolific of the group with his myriad of different side projects, including Fantomas, Peeping Tom, Mondo Cane and Tomahawk. Drummer Mike Bordin toured and recorded with Ozzy Osbourne for several years and bassist Billy Gould worked mainly as a producer. Despite several offers FNM never reunited until 2009 on which they embarked on a very successful comeback tour which lasted until 2012. Fast forward three years and here we are, with a much anticipated new FNM album, entitled Sol Invictus.
Faith No More could have gone the easy way by emulating The Real Thing (1989) and Angel Dust (1992), generally seen as their commercially most successful records. Much to their credit Patton and co decided to do things on their terms and create an album they wanted to hear without any sort of outside interference or caving in to any sort of pressure or expectation. Sol Invictus is exactly the type of record one would expect from any project where Mike Patton puts his mark on. It combines the fury and avant-garde/experimental approach of King For A Day with the songwriting prowess and overall cohesiveness of Album Of The Year.
Sol Invictus may come across as a little underwhelming at first, as it doesn’t feature any instantly recognisable hit singles in the vein of ‘Epic’, ‘Last Cup Of Sorrow’ or ‘A Small Victory’. No, this album is about the greater musical vision behind it in which each song has its specific place, akin to the different act that make up a Shakespearean play like Othello or Hamlet for instance. Most previous FNM material is very guitar oriented, but this time around keyboardist Roddy Bottum has a bigger presence on the material than ever before. It’s a nice change of pace, because his tasteful playing gives songs like ‘Superhero’, ‘Matador’ and ‘Sunny Side Up’ a very distinct gothic/new wave type of feel.
The band’s other ace in the hole is Mike Patton himself. His versatile vocals dominate the more experimental songs like ‘Separation Anxiety’, ‘Cone Of Shame’ and ‘Black Friday’. Despite the fact that Patton and Bottum have a more prominent role, Sol Invictus does feel like a genuine group effort in which each individual contribution complements the other. Another great aspect is the sheer musical diversity displayed on the album, but it never feels disjointed or out of place.
Sol Invictus isn’t an easy album to get into and it takes some real effort before it unveils its musical essence and brilliance. It’s all about little details and nifty little twists and turns which make this such an interesting and enticing effort. It’s unsettling, unconventional and uncompromising in its musical approach and that’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from a true Faith No More album. Mission accomplished!