(Reclamation Recordings / Ipecac Recordings)
Those who were fans of Faith No More as teenagers in the ’90s are now in their 30s or 40s, and new music becomes a little less important to some folks as they march forth into familyhood. So, does Sol Invictus, Faith No More’s first album in 17 years, have what it takes to please rabid contemporary music fans as well as the ‘I haven’t listened to much new music since the kids came along’-types as well?
Fuck yes. Faith No More have never made the same album twice, especially since Mike Patton joined in 1988. Angel Dust is as different from King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime as The Real Thing is from Album Of The Year. This is the same.
On its own merits, Sol Invictus is a dark, energetic, sprawling album, which does everything you want a Faith No More album to do. It has atmospheric keys, lonesome piano melodies, crushing walls of rhythm guitars, seamless tempo shifts and animated vocals. The bass of Billy Gould drives the arrangements forward in ways we haven’t heard since The Real Thing, even though the material doesn’t really sound anything like that – except maybe Superhero, which at least sounds like it was written by the same band who wrote Epic. If you’re a Jim Martin nutswinger, you’ll probably still miss his early-Hetfield guitar riffage, but current guitarist Jon Hudson slots into the Faith No More vocabulary even more comfortably than he did on Album Of The Year.
If you love Faith No More for their quirkiness, there’s Sunny Side Up, Cone Of Shame, Rise Of The Fall, Black Friday and From The Dead. If you’re into the dark stuff that made Angel Dust so compelling, there’s the rest. Interestingly, two of the three songs released prior to the album – Matador and Motherfucker – are placed towards the very end. It’s a smart move that allows Sol Invictus to draw you in and lead you through.
Overall, that’s what’s so right about this record. It makes you want to listen over and over again and rewards you with hidden layers and inflections. It taps into the spirit of what always made this band so identifiable, even amid all the genre-hopping, and it does so without alienating those who crave something new or those who are worried about Sol Invictus pulling a Phantom Menace on everyone’s youth.