Review Summary: A worthy addition to Filter's increasing discography.
At the start of the new millennium, Filter were one of the leading acts in the US and easily recognizable all over the world. Their music was heavy enough to capture the attention of fans of the fresh nu-metal wave, but also favored a softer side, connecting with people who weren't necessarily into heavy music. However, the moment frontman Richard Patrick checked into rehab, postponing any Filter release until Anthems For The Damned six years later, the band faded into obscurity. The road to recovery was long and hard, some of it being documented on the previous effort, The Trouble With Angels
, the record which finally put Filter back on the map.
With a new label behind them, Richard Patrick, guitar player Johnny Radtke, along with bassist Phil Buckman and drummer Jeff Friedl are ready to make a full return into the public's eye. The new album continues the same path Filter dusted by the fan favorite, The Trouble With Angels
, only a shade more electronic. The core features similar chord progressions to the band's debut Short Bus
, filtered through current technology. For the most part, the influence is audible, but The Sun Comes Out Tonight
is considerably more polished than most of their previous offerings. The result proves Filter is maturing with every release, however, one can't help but point at the production for killing some of the raw thrills provided by preceding installments.
Still, the production doesn't always get in the way, The Sun Comes Out Tonight
having quite a number of highlights as Filter inserted bits of every element that characterize their discography so far. Opener "We Hate It When You Get What You Want" gives a perfect glimpse of the overall sound. With a powerful yet processed main rhythm and catchy vocals, the song mixes dense, hard-hitting moments with melodic ones, while keeping the electronic elements in the spotlight too. Filter were always slightly influenced by the industrial genre, hence the occasional synth bass lines, drum machines and other soundscapes, but their music was mostly rooted in metal. They rarely developed the electronic side past the decorative level, however, it is clear they wish to reclaim their glory days and break once more into the mainstream. Thus, Patrick & Co. enriched The Sun Comes Out Tonight
with various tweaks, much like Rob Zombie did on his latest project, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor
On the second half, there are the two back-to-back rockers "It's Got To Be Right Now" and "This Finger's For You", each pointing in a different direction. The former is an energetic, straightforward rocker with a punk edge and the latter is a groovy number that reminisces their 2010's single, "No Love". Both have infectious choruses, where Patrick is backed up by the other band members on vocals. The formulas are the same hard/soft alternations, but they are more carefully structured than ever, showcasing the band's increasing experience in the domain. Also, Patrick favors the extensive use of background vocals, often with a vocoded overdub.
The album's two darkest moments come from the paranoid "Burn It" and the moody "Take That Knife Out Of My Back". Both are arguably the heaviest tracks here, keeping focus on the guitars and creating a dense atmosphere that harkens back to early tunes such as “Hey Man, Nice Shot” or “Cancer”. While not as powerful as before, Richard Patrick's snarl is still capable to ride the sonic waves. On the opposite end, the album's soft side offers some lovely moments, too, especially "Surprise", an uplifting semi-acoustic number with a beautiful chorus, that would make for a great single. The best part is that even though it has a familiar sound, it doesn't really try to rehash the past moments that brought the band's biggest hit, "Take A Picture". Also, "It's My Time" is a stripped and rather somber piano ballad, that along with Patrick's melancholic croon, becomes one of the most sincere performances he’s given in 20 years of activity. This is a perfect example of how his clean voice has substantially improved since the release of Short Bus
In the end, The Sun Comes Out Tonight
is another worthy addition to Filter's increasing discography. It's cohesive, interesting and varied enough to please both old fans and newcomers alike, while offering some strong tracks that can easily be compared with past favorites. Even so, the whole journey was dragged down trying to leave the songs appealing for as many people as possible. The riffs are there, but most of the time buried underneath a clean production. Maybe a conscious decision or just a desire to experiment with different sounds, The Sun Comes Out Tonight
will probably enjoy more commercial success, but won’t necessarily be heralded as a new peak. Still, lately, Richard Patrick and the gang are on the right track and more consistent than ever.