Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Faith No More-Sol Invictus

Reclamation Records/Ipecac Recordings

Ladies and gentlemen please give a warm welcome to "Sol Invictus"! It may have taken Mike Patton and crew some18 LONG years to accomplish, but it's finally here. Recorded and produced by Faith No More bassist Billy Gould, "Sol Invictus" (Latin for Unconquered Sun) is Faith No More's long-overdue seventh studio album and as a fellow fan of these creative San Francisco rockers yes, I do agree with you. It is about damn time! This is the long-awaited follow-up to "Album of the Year" and for life-long fans the (continuously) extended vacation between new Faith No More studio albums has been almost too much to bare! Nonetheless "Sol Invictus" is here and the saints be praised! With a total of ten tracks (incl. the two previously-released singles, "Motherfucker" and "Super Hero"), "Sol Invictus" is not only a strong release, but potentially one of 2015's best ROCK recordings! Notice I said "potentially" as there is (obviously) still a lot of 2015 left to live before the big ball drops on New Year's Eve. It's always possible that some artist or band will come from out of nowhere and release a absolute stone cold killer rock album the likes of which have never been heard before. It's possibly if not highly unlikely. Especially seeing as "Sol Invictus" is pound for pound one of the more rock-steady recordings out there. Other than maybe "From the Dead" there isn't a dub to be found here with the (easy does it) title track, "Sol Invictus", giving way to one good song ("Superhero") after another ("Sunny Side Up"). One would think that the steady line-up of Faith No More has a lot to do with that. Especially seeing as "Sol Invictus" is Faith No More's first album since 1992's "Angel Dust" to feature the same studio line-up from one album to the next! Besides Mike Patten (vocals) and Billy Gould (bass) that line-up includes Roddy Bottum (keyboards, vocals), Mike Bordin (drums), and Jon Hudson (guitar). On the band's new album these five musicians team-up in order to give the listener new Faith No More material to hold close to their heart and cherish. Other reviewers may not agree with my personal assessment, but the album's two singles, "Motherfucker" and "Superhero", are about as good as it gets! Especially the hard and heavy one-two punch rock that is "Motherfucker". While it's nowhere near a Faith No More standard, "Motherfucker" is Mike Patton at his wildest and I can't help but smile as he belts out the lines to this aggressive piece! Still, as much as I LOVE the album's first two singles they are not the only stand-out cuts to be found on "Sol Invictus". After the solid "Sunny Side Up" Faith No More fans are treated to the moody rocker "Separation Anxiety". Arguably one of the album's heavier moments, "Separation Anxiety" builds in intensity it becomes a harsh time bomb ready to blow! From there you get "Cone of Shame" and this "under cover" number is nothing if not "sick". Vibe-wise it's as dark as it's subject matter is. Whatever the case, "Cone of Shame" whips itself up into a frenzy until one can't help but feel completely spent! As one of the better songs on "Sol Invictus" it's (assuredly) not for the faint-hearted, but it helps make way for "Rise of the Fall" and "Black Friday". That first one recalls classic (as in early) Faith No More while the second one (which was interestingly enough the B-Said of "Motherfucker") is old and new Faith No More rocking out over a case of cold beer! With "Separation Anxiety" through "Black Friday" you essentially get a solid block of cool Faith No More numbers! As good as everyone is there is one musician that I was surprising impressed by. And that would be keyboardist Roddy Bottum! His work comes center stage on the opening title track as well as on "Sunny Side Up" and "Matador". But even when it's more subdued his piano playing is second to none. Whether he's dangling the ivory keys or adding interesting snyth notes to the mix one thing is for certain. The hands of Roddy Bottum are magical! Just like he did way back on "The Real Thing", Roddy adds a sense of style to this band and it would be almost impossible to ignore it! Naturally that takes nothing away from lead vocalist Mike Patton, Faith No More's long-time rhythm duo Mike Bordin & Billy Gould or guitarist Jon Hudson. All four are at the top of their game as usual. It's simply that Roddy Bottum is that little something extra that helps tilt this one towards the exceptional! In conclusion,
"Sol Invictus" is a great comeback for this San Fransisco rock band. It has "softer" moments like "Matador" (a killer cut BTW!) and "heavier" ones like "Separation Anxiety". It's always on and even when it isn't ("From The Dead") it's still better than just about anything you'll find in the rock section under the heading "new"! Please understand that no one is going to say "Sol Invictus" is Faith No More's finest hour. That would be a real stretch. Still, "Sol Invictus" is Faith No More making a album for Faith No More fans and doing a damn fine job of it!  For a band that hasn't released any new music in ages it's a great way to reintroduce yourself to fans of old while simultaneously coming out of the gates strong in order to add young fans into the family! "Sol Invictus" is a recommend addition to your Faith No More collection and a sure fire sign that there is still plenty of life left in these aging rockers!  

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