Review: Faith No More – Sol Invictus

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As a longtime fan of Faith No More (think before Epic became the fluke-hit of 1990) I can’t tell you how badly I took their 1998 breakup. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth… but also hope. Hope that they would one day follow up their “final” 1997 release Album of the Year. For over a decade the prophets were silent. Then Mike Patton finally changed his mind regarding how he “wasted all of his twenties in that band”. There was a live reunion that began in 2009 and ended in 2012 (an extensive tour which largely ignored their homeland in the States).

Currently touring the States and maddeningly selling out each venue before most can get their hands on a reasonably-priced ticket, Faith No More will drop Sol Invictus worldwide later this month. As previously mentioned, this will be their first album since 1997 and will include that album’s line-up (Jim Martin fans need to just give it up. Even Chuck Mosley was given a little stage-time a while back at their homecoming show).

I must admit that, upon my initial-listen, this album sort of passed me by. It doesn’t have much in common with any of the other Faith No More albums, but then again those albums were all sharp-departures from each other; each one with sonic-signatures all their own. After a few listens I feel I’ve started to “get it” so here I am with the play-by-play analysis.

FAITH NO MORE San Francisco - October 28, 2014 Dustin Rabin Photography 2680

FAITH NO MORE
San Francisco – October 28, 2014
Dustin Rabin Photography 2680

Roddy Bottum opens the album’s first track Sol Invictus with piano. There’s a lot of piano on here and FNM without keyboards isn’t really FNM so take it or take it. Mike “Puffy” Bordin begins a marching-drum intro and the album is off to a promising start. Mike Patton’s smooth and completely unmistakable vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Mr. Bungle’s California… or maybe just Mike Patton’s vocals.

Superhero brings a little more heavy and would fit in quite well on any Tomahawk album save for Anonymous. The guitar-sound is surprisingly close to Trey Spruance’s guitar-tone on the still-hella-awesome King for a Day…Fool for a Lifetime release from 1995. The true resurrection of the long-deceased FNM begins with lines like “Ain’t no grave gonna hold this body down” and a triumphant (though somewhat loosely-defined and semi-psychedelic) guitar solo, keys, and Patton wailing over it all.

The one thing that truly distinguishes this song from Patton’s two thousand other Ipecac bands is that it’s only a little “busy” at times. Mike’s bands have a propensity to really saturate their songs with almost too many instruments playing at once. To the casual listener with pop-sensibilities this song may sound busy as well but it’s only a little busy by way of comparison.

Sunny Side Up is memorable and has some of that pop-sensibility but I highly doubt it could ever be a radio single in most markets. Good song nevertheless.

Separation Anxiety follows and Billy Gould’s Bass Lines. (That’s the end of the sentence: “Billy Gould’s Bass Lines”). Whispered verses are juxtaposed with some of Patton’s crazed shrieking and a vocal part that would likely be done with his megaphone in a live setting.

Cone of Shame begins with a simple picked intro and another marching beat from Puffy. Probably gonna wanna snap your fingers to a some of this track. A spoken verse reminds me of King For a Day’s “Just a Man” and builds up to heaviness and talk of stripping someone’s bones off and whatnot. It then proceeds to turn into a vicious standout track as it nears its conclusion.

Rise of the Fall brings a little funk in the verses. The strange key-flute instrument known as the melodica, featured prominently on Angel Dust’s “Midnight Cowboy,” makes its welcome reappearance here. The band deftly balances the dynamics between the mellow and the maniacal and the song concludes with a soothing calm.

Black Friday again displays Gould’s criminally-underrated talent as a bass-wielding beast. This song is a seriously musical and rewarding listen in its semi-simplicity (by latter-day FNM standards). It brings back a tiny bit of the funk that FNM has been short on since The Real Thing-era.

Motherfucker starts somewhat poetically and in a spoken almost-rapped way. This could be a SERIOUS contender for airplay on edgier stations… well, if not for the whole emeffer-thing. A lot of self-important comment-board critics (JAG hates people like that) panned this when it was pre-released, but after a few listens it will be stuck in your head as it ought to be. I found myself almost yelling “GOOD-BYE-MOTH-ERRR-FUCKERRRR!” whilst driving and listening for about the third time. This is typical classic Faith No More goodness. I only wish it was a bit longer.

Matador includes some impressive vocal-acrobatics from Patton… as though anyone expects less from him at any age. At about 2:41 (and elsewhere) you’ll hear some brief histrionics coming from the Hallowed Pipes of Patton that are somewhat reminiscent of their over-the-top cover of the Bee Gees’ “I Started a Joke”. Holy living breathing crap, this is a good track. It’s a damned shame these guys couldn’t have worked together a bit more since the 1998 breakup. This song sounds nothing like “Epic” but it is nothing short of epic.

From the Dead’s beginning acoustic “riff” sounds a bit like Echo & the Bunnymen or just about any other ‘80s British New Wave band. Though Patton’s vox are such that one never needs to use autotune to correct him, he does however layer his vocal tracks here to great effect. The background “aaaaaahhhs” sound like they couldn’t even be better replicated by Roddy’s synth.

Clocking in at about forty minutes Sol Invictus never gets a chance to overstay its welcome. It may be a challenging listen to some, but for many it will reward you after a few listens. This happened to me big-time when I picked up Angel Dust upon its 1993 release. I had gotten so used to the candy-coated sensibilities of The Real Thing* that I was expecting Part 2. Nope, not after you give Patton any real measure of creative control.

*A word about The Real Thing: Since this album’s 1989 release thousands of nü metal bands took a  few small elements of that then-mindblowing album and just ran them into the ground *Korn*. I imagine it’s hard for younger people to look back at that album and understand how exciting, fresh, and innovative it was in its time. Younger people were made to first suffer all manner of rap-rocking ‘90s shit-bands that copied the bass and what little rap was on TRT, mixed it with some Suicidal Tendencies, and turned it into limp bizkits.

This album is not The Real Thing. It’s not Angel Dust, King for a Day…., or Album of the Year for that matter. What it is is a long-overdue next chapter in their career. … It’s not “metal” but it’s not exactly “poppy” either. It is still somewhat accessible by today’s tr00 metal standards. a/k/a A Good Thing.

Sol Invictus will be released to the public on May 19, 2015. Get it.

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  • Great review, I think the track by track style works here just because of how Patton/FNM are a pretty eclectic and diverse group in their approach to music

  • Great review, I think the track by track style works here just because of how Patton/FNM are a pretty eclectic and diverse group in their approach to music

  • I’ve never listened to Faith No More but my Dad owns all their albums. I’ll have to add them to the long list of shit I need to listen to.

    • Maik Beninton
      • aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we all revisit our youth with one stab

        • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

          I didn’t discover them until when I was in 10th grade. That wasn’t that long ago.

          • Grade 10’s got me all stressed out.
            It’s way harder than Grade 9, way fucking harder.

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            College was extremely hard as well.

          • The W.

            Was?

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            I went for a year and now I don’t go.

          • You should get back on that train buddy! It is totes worth it. Hang tough.

            GL

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            I’m going to go back either in the spring or next fall. I can’t afford it currently.

          • Loans>>>>>>

            That is the best part of this country – you can get money to go to school no matter what !!(most of the time). Even if it is just enough to go to community college.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            I waited over twenty to return after I left college. Its weird as hell sitting in class at 49 with twenty somethings and professors younger than me…BUT FUCK IT!

          • There’s no shame when there’s no fucks given.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            amen ron!

          • yeah but you can school those young fucks with death metal knowledge!!! m/

          • The W.

            No one in college listens to death metal. At least no one cool.

          • So what you are saying is you are not cool. I can commiserate with that. lol

            GL

          • The W.

            I don’t have enough evidence to support the thesis that I am cool.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            yea…wait wut? haha

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            Haha yea mutha phuckers!!! CLASS WAS IN SESSION that day…biznaaatches! Thanks!

          • BLAST ENTOMBED AT 200 % VOLUME WHEN THE CLASS IS BORING!

            (I do it in the tests of my students).

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

          • The W.

            I think we’ve talked about this before, but have you considered going into a trade? College is great if you have a career in mind that requires a degree. Going to college without a plan is pointless.

          • Dagon

            And very expensive.

          • The W.

            Exactly. As someone who has spent basically his entire adult life in college, I don’t think college is for everyone.

          • In your defense, if I was told I had to go back to school (knowing how difficult a time it was) I would definitely have a panic attack.

            GL

          • ggallin

            Aha ! Another Canadian posing as a Brit, posing as a “Yank”. Now you’re making sense……

    • Dagon

      And yet you listened to all that power metal. Getchapull bruv

      • Power metal is my love. My listening habits all depend on my mood. For the first half of the year, I find I tend to listen to heavy, thrash, power, and doom. Grindcore is all year and black metal is usually a winter music for me.

        • Dagon

          I’m not an asshole, though. If power metal makes your boy parts tingle, suit yourself.

          It’s interesting to see people talk about music in a seasonal way, I don’t have any seasons so I don’t feel this influence at all.

          • The W.

            Here are the season where I live (starting with winter). Grey/freezing->2 weeks of nice weather->110 degrees with dust storms and tornadoes-> 2 weeks of nice weather

          • Dagon

            Mine is like this:
            November-May = rains at 1 PM and at 3 PM, occasionally rains all night and gets crazy. Insufferably hot and dank (Ayy)

            June-September = rains everyday at 4 PM. Insufferably hot and dank.

          • The W.

            Dank, you say?

          • Dagon

            Boom booroom boom boom booroom boom baby

            Super dank.

          • Come to NJ and get all four seasons. It sucks for at least half the year when its not spring or summer.

          • Dagon

            I lived in Providence for a year and got to experience it. I guess I didn’t really feel bad during the winter because I get “too much” sun where I’m from. I understand the struggle, though. Saw people opening their arms and busting nuts as soon as the first sun rays started hitting on spring. Shit was crazy.

            Fall was my favorite season. Absolutely beautiful, and just perfect temperature-wise.

          • It’s basically nice around here from May to October, every other month can go fuck itself.

          • Dagon

            My birthday is in September and I remember the weather was extra nice. Many a-beers were consumed.

          • That’s interesting. I’m all for letting people listen to what they enjoy as well (for instance, I’m not a fan of hardcore, punk, sludge, or rap). I’ve got a list of bands that I need to listen to this year. I have a lot of German thrash metal to listen to. I haven’t listened to enough Kreator and Sodom.

    • Guppusmaximus

      ” but my Dad owns all their albums.”

      I feel fucking old now…

      • I felt old when I learned that The Lord of the Rings films were fifteen years old. It felt like just yesterday when I was going to see those in theaters.

        • Guppusmaximus

          I hear ya…It is wild to think they were the newer movies yet they are pretty old.

          Just being reminded that FNM can be considered “Dad Rock” is a bit of a shock. Never mind that I saw them on the Angeldust tour.

  • Tyree

    Here’s your fucking Faith.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lu3VTngm1F0

    • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS
      • The video that birthed a million mooks.

      • Guacamole Jim

        Dude, they’re doing fedora tricks. All has become clear.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        BANNED

        • BANNED LIKE A TON OF BRICKS

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmFAS8v7Wio

          • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS
          • The W.

            Wahooo!

          • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS

            The random “shoosh” towards the middle of the song is my current favorite moment of the song.

          • This is a lot to digest….

          • Dagon

            When I first heard Give Em Hell EP with Key!, it felt really punk rock. Did you grab a lot of inspiration from that genre?
            Yeah, I fuck with punk rock heavy. I fuck with what they do. People don’t realize that punk rock culture and people who follow it are like the n- of white people. They are anarchists, they don’t give a fuck, they are counter-culture. They don’t care about being accepted for shallow shit, they want to be accepted for shit that they actually do.

          • The W.

            You know, this is bad, but there’s something almost SpaceGhostPurrp about it.

          • SpaceGhostPurrp seems much more straightforward though (albeit completely drenched in reverb).

          • Dagon

            Agreed, even though I don’t fuck with Purrp that much these days. His songs didn’t have a lot of staying power.

    • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

      I love this song. I hate the Limp Bizkit cover below though,

      • Tyree

        Great.

        • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

          This album also won Album Of The Year at the Grammys in 1989.

          • Tyree

            Wow.

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            There was much better albums that year but George Michael won. It’s depressing.

          • CyberneticOrganism
          • The W.

            I tried really hard to finish this show. I watched a couple seasons, but then I felt like no resolution was ever reached and the characters just did the exact same thing in every episode.

          • Or is cuz… you’re chicken?
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TphEh0Qgv0

          • The W.

            I will say Tobias Funke is easily one of the best tv characters ever.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Yeah they kinda do, but it’s good nonetheless. This is one of the few tv shows/series I was actually able to finish because it was so damn funny.

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            Would you say that the development of the characters was arrested?

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            What’s depressing is that you credit the Grammys.

        • Ted Nü-Djent ™

          But you already knew that

    • JWG
  • Dagon

    JAG is the man.

    • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

      He sure is.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      I’m sure you and I are in agreement here, Fish God, but I would love to see more JAG penned articles on this site.

      • Dagon

        No doubt about it. I write because I love music, but the JAG not only loves it, he is also extremely knowledgeable.

        Would ask for autograph/10

        • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

          I agree. I may love music and know a lot about it but I don’t know anywhere near as much as JAG.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          JAG “get off my lawn” matching wrist tattoos?

          I actually don’t have space on either wrist but I got space.

          • Dagon

            Get it right under the clavicles. Dudes are getting text inked below the collarbones all the time these days.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            JAG tats or poser

          • Dagon

            Srsly, “Get off my lawn” across your chest is one of the coolest tattoo ideas I’ve had in a while.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            But I think you should also add JAG’s mug right in the center on your sternum, MK hat included.

          • Dagon

            I am lowkey considering this tat, Ed.

            I might get it.

      • i would read the crap out of his top 10 albums from various years past

        • I’ve got one planned for the EotY…for 1985. I promise their will be a little less glam this time around haha.

        • Ted Nü-Djent ™

          I’d like to see further contributions to the “Can’t Flush This” series

          • I have a few in draft stages but I’m somewhat afraid you guys would think a lot less of those picks than I do.

          • even better!

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            I don’t know mate. A lot of my taste aligns with yours so even if I didn’t like/ haven’t heard, it will probably make me check it out or revisit.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          An all time top ten from JAG?

    • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

      i concur

  • I got the impession that this album would be a grower after the singles didn’t grab me at first but clicked after a few listens. Love the track by track breakdown on this. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the whole thing.

  • The W.

    Unpopular opinion: I like Anonymous. A lot.

    • HessianHunter

      It’s among my favorite things ever. That was the first Tomahawk record I heard and I was sorely disappointed that the rest of their discography didn’t have that style.

      • The W.

        Ayyyy. I jam “Sun Dance” pretty regularly

      • more beer

        Hey man if you need anything while you are in town this weekend hit me up here.

        • HessianHunter

          What do you mean, in Minneapolis? Because I leave town tomorrow morning.

          • more beer

            Aren`t you in Denver at 7th circle on Sunday?

          • HessianHunter

            Yes we are! I just didn’t know what town you meant. We’re set up with a free meal and place to say, so I think we’re all cool, just come chill at 7th circle, dawg.

          • more beer

            Right on. Just a heads up if you don`t know it`s snowing pretty hard in eastern Colorado tonight thru tomorrow morning. Travel safe I eill see you tomorrow night.

  • EsusMoose

    Old man yells at clouds. Great review, I’m interested in hearing it as I haven’t heard much of FNM

  • Pretty sure this is the first time I have heard Faith No More… and it sounds pretty good!

    JAG>>>>>

    GL

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    a creative force—seen worldwide
    gathering human consciousness—
    as mind –becomes dethroned–
    and global groupthink—becomes true-
    and the ultimate power–
    nourishment—for the soul of humanity-
    and the earth
    —-
    (all 3 at once–1st vid muted–2nd vid 100%vo–3rd vid 100%vol)
    -https://youtu.be/kFnJm4kSIAA

    https://youtu.be/2ekKJ0GNAfQ

    =https://youtu.be/ralHrsvfwpM

  • The Beargod

    You’re a good man JAG. This is a good review.

  • Simon “Djentcrusher” Phoenix

    Good review JAG.

    I still think Patton doesn’t deserve all the blame for nu-metal. Fear Factory and Sepultura were incorporating elements that popped up in the genre too.

    • Agreed.

    • Griff

      It’s not Patton’s fault that he was so good, a bunch of assholes said, “Hey, I think I’ll try that too!”

  • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

    This was a very good review. Mike Patton changed the world of alternative rock as we knew it and is still changing it. I don’t know what he’ll do next though. I’ll leave that up to him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg6xaFZStEI

  • There reaches a point in the day when I realize there just isn’t anymore work that is going to be completed. Unfortunately (fortunately??) I am at that point. It is 12:56p.

    Also, it is 83F…. God damn it is beautiful out!

    GET YOUR SUMMERTIME TUNES ON m/m/

    GL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngXR-vnz0y8

  • dingus

    glad people are starting to realize that this one’s just a grower – the more you listen to it, the more it makes sense even if it’s not right out of the gate blowing your mind

    • New here?? If so, welcome!

      GL

      • dingus

        very infrequent poster here, but I’m a regular on the facebook group and Sucks!

    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      I’m guilty of blowing this one off after the first listen, I’ll have to revisit, but I’m gonna wait until there’s a better version available or I might just pony up the dough for the cd when it drops

      • Griff

        It’s fucking great…. but it’s not a catchy metal album.

        • Ted Nü-Djent ™

          FNM were never really what I’d consider metal anyway

  • JAG rock…I dig it

  • yo JAG do you not like Suicidal Tendencies?

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      I think he was saying later bands mixed Faith No More with Suicidal Tendencies and spawned something terrible.

      • I guess I can see that. I think ST is the shit. The idea they’re complicit to the influence of garbage music makes me sad

        • You can hear their lines in Limp Bizkit songs. Not their fault though. I LOVED ST back in the day and, because I wasn’t really into that much hardcore, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow was my absolute favorite. Rocky George was great on guitar too.

  • Sir Tapir the Based™

    I think that FNM is one of the few Patton bands I haven’t listened to. Maybe I have to rectify this.

  • Stanley

    Jay, no love for Introduce Yourself?

  • I have no idea what are you talking about.

    But, I really like my Toilet with JAG’s sparkles!

    JAG>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    http://www.cuandoerachamo.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/09/limpiador_pocetas_MAS.jpg

  • JWG

    I kind of wish I’d remembered to screen-capture the error iTunes (maybe just Canada) made in cataloguing this item.

    The artist was listed as “Faith No More Presents”, and they only just fixed it. I don’t see “presents” anywhere on the album artwork, so I have no idea where they got that from. But it was there all the way up until yesterday…

  • Thank you for not being another one of those guys that rails against anything post-Mosley or post-Martin. The Decibel review of this album is BS because he talks too much about how KfaD and AotY suck, which they objectively do not.

    That being said, I’m not sure how much I dig this album. Reality never trumps nostalgia. Older albums are still in regular rotation for me, but I will continue to spin this one to see if it grows on me as a whole. I agree that Matador is great though.

    • I stopped reading Decibel’s reviews after some neckbeard called Iced Earth’s last album “hard rock” and literally complained that it wasn’t heavy like Nails. When people are trying to be soooo metal that they start talking that stupidly I’m out.

  • Oli Fucking Sykes, Son.

    Great review JAG, although that could be my huge Faith No More boner talking, either way, I ain’t complaining.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Another thing about The Real Thing was that the hits especially “Epic” were the weakest tracks on that album imho. Oddly enough, the title track was the best song. Happily enough, it was one of the most radio-unfriendly songs by 1989 standards. Great album!

    I was extremely happy that Angeldust was nothing like the previous album. The second track (Caffeine) sent the signal that FNM couldn’t be pigeonholed. I don’t think the mainstream media knew what to do with that album. Sure, they tried the 120 Minutes route with “Midlife Crisis” but other than that it was in a league of its own. Brilliant & timeless.

  • Tim Wilsön

    I don’t usually comment much, but awesome job on this review man, very well written

  • TheCheezFace

    I’ve only listened to one FnM album in my life. Maybe it’s time to change that.

  • DeeSnarl

    Helluva job, JAG. For an old guy. And you’re right about the revolution of The Real Thing – probably not enough attention given to that album as harbinger of the alternative revolution (shout out, too, to Ned’s Atomic Dustbin).

  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    JAG, sweet review brother! Definitely gotta check this out.

  • I feel like I’m going to end up passing on this album and this makes me feel dead inside. I’m just not hearing IT.

    What is IT?

  • CT-12

    Sweet review man, I’m fucking stoked to pick up this disc. Also, while I know some people find it “in poor taste”, I actually really like track-by-track reviews and wish they were utilized more.