Faith No More Sol Invictus
Faith No More’s first album in 18 years picks up pretty much right where 1997’s Album of the Year left off, with the off-kilter alt-metal band making no concessions to the mainstream or to the way rock music has evolved in nearly two decades. Of course, these guys were always a few years ahead of the curve anyway, which made it tough for them to build more than a cult audience (1989 hit single “Epic” aside), but has only improved their reputation over time. Sol Invictus isn’t going to spawn any radio hits, but it’s not completely inaccessible—songs like “Superhero” and “Black Friday” are energetic rockers with oddball touches in the vein of classic FNM singles. Even the slow, somewhat repetitive “Motherf*cker” eventually evokes the powerful FNM of old.
Mike Patton’s vocals are dynamic and haunting, equal parts dark, soaring, snarling and melodic, and fans of his dozens of weird post-FNM projects should find plenty to like. Patton’s bandmates match his range with heavy guitars, thick bass, swinging percussion and wonky synths, although the musical diversity seems to come at the expense of any truly memorable hooks. But the album rewards repeat listens, and its strengths are embodied in six-minute centerpiece “Matador,” which starts with plaintive piano and hushed vocals before building to an arena-rock crescendo, with Patton proclaiming, “We will rise!” It might have taken 18 years, but on Sol Invictus, FNM have definitively risen again.