Review Summary: Filter's latest release "The Trouble With Angels" has reportedly been described as "the year’s defining rock record" by the band's main man and only constant member, Richard Patrick. A risky description, but the album does not fall short of impressing
Even though it has been described as a return to their original sound found on "Short Bus”, the album can be best placed after their worldwide breakthrough effort "Title Of Record". Yes, it has raw riffs and aggressive vocals, but the main reason is that the vocals and the arrangements are tight, and far more produced and polished than their first album and even “Title”.
“The Trouble With Angels” starts without any build up with the first single “ The Inevitable Relapse” which has some really aggressive riffs and manic drumming (also, probably the closest number to the “Short Bus” sound) . A definite highlight and a weird choice as a first single, it only proves that Richard doesn't care much for mainstream radios these days, and he shouldn't. The whole album goes in the same vein, each track sharing a nervous and desperate feel. Patrick’s rage only shuts down on the last song, a reworked version of last year’s, “Fades Like A Photograph”. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking sad and it’s one of the most mature songs Richard has written yet: “and maybe there's just one time with you I want to remember for eternity […], photographs taken like memories of you they disappear/Colors of your eyes they fade with time they just can't stay clear”.
Other highlights include “No Love” which sounds a bit different from the rest of the tracks mostly because contains a marching drum pattern, a more layered production and it’s probably the most polished rocker on the album. Also, “Catch A Falling Knife”, with a big chorus and eerie vocals is a total standout.
The rest of the songs are, like mentioned, in the same vein. They are heavy, aggressive and all have big choruses, but they are all of a relatively high quality, therefore none of them sounds disposable.
Another thing to compliment here it’s the lyrics. On “Short Bus” Richard couldn’t care less about the lyrics, but he slowly matured and if you take a closer look at them, they are really good and most important, more personal. “Anthems For The Damned” had the music, but the lyrics were mostly about the war in Iraq. This time he went on to write his issues and memories, and he came up with some of the best compositions in his career. For example, other than “Photograph” ’s, “Clouds” ’ lyrics: “I dreamt of life without mistakes tonight/I woke to find us out at our wake tonight/the pages of our diary/were stained with blood and tears/the passages that we had wrote/were haunted writings of two ghosts/”. They are a long way from “ You’re gonna ***ing die you piece of ***” or “Makes you wonder if you can/ It takes you, puts you in a can.”
The only flaw you could find, eventually, on this album, it’s the large number of the nervous, hard rocking tracks, but for that you can always buy the Deluxe Edition, where there are some gems that should’ve been put on the standard edition. “Drowning “ it’s a lovely ballad, “Plume” it’s the usually ambient closer but this time there are some guitars/bass and lyrics, and the result it’s interesting. Also, “My Life Before” has some great vocals again (and it’s not far from “Photograph”) and “Shot From The Sun” it’s another rocker, but definitely not filler.
Overall, each Filter album gets better and better. There are few bands that manage, after 15 years, to put out an ever increasing quality material. Fans must not miss this release and everyone should give this record a spin, it deserves it.
Standouts - “No Love”, “The Inevitable Relapse”, “Fades Like A Photograph”, “Catch A Falling Knife” & “Drowning” on the Deluxe Edition.