Review Summary: Never lose faith.
Faith No More's last record was 1997's Album of the Year
. That record's title was chosen ironically, as the band was not happy with it. Fans, for the most part, agreed. The general consensus is that the band's best record was 1992's Angel Dust
; indeed, it is widely considered one of the best albums of the '90s. Sol Invictus
comes twenty-five years after that effort, and while it is not as good as Angel Dust
, it is a satisfying comeback.
Mike Patton's vocal performance is, predictably, fantastic. The biggest difference between his performance here and past FNM records is how frequently he utilizes his low range. Sol Invictus
features it a lot, and since it is excellent, that is a good thing. And though there is no brutally heavy track akin to "Jizzlobber" or "Cuckoo for Caca" on here, Patton does get to display his wilder side on "Superhero" and "Rise of the Fall," the latter of which comes closest to the cinematic vibe of Angel Dust
. Lyrically, though, there are some hiccups. Since Patton's excursions into glossolalia via Fantomas
and his work with John Zorn
's Moonchild project, he seems to have lost his knack for the lyrical witticisms that were displayed on Angel Dust
and, to a lesser extent, King for a Day
. 2006's Peeping Tom
project featured some particularly poor lines. However, with that said, the lyrics on Sol Invictus
are more often good than bad, and overall, Patton gives a dynamic, energetic, and wonderful performance. The other members hold their own as well, though guitarist Jon Hudson's playing is still largely devoid of personality.
Aside from emotionally resonant guitar work, though, what's missing from Sol Invictus
-- and indeed, what has been missing from all of Faith No More's records post-Angel Dust
-- is atmosphere. Angel Dust
had a clear sense of purpose. The title, track order, artwork, and music itself all aligned with it. From that sense, the atmosphere was derived. Sol Invictus
feels like simply a collection of songs, rather than an utterly cohesive musical statement. This is not to say Sol Invictus
is a bad record, only that it lacks the atmosphere that characterized the band's best record and thus is not propelled into the stratosphere like that one was.
is also too short. Another two or three tracks would have been welcome. And indeed, even some of the songs that are
here are too short. The title track builds beautifully, but then ends without climaxing. "Sunny Side Up" is one of the most interesting songs on the record, with its alternating from 14/8 to 16/8, but at under three minutes, needs more. "Mother***er" builds and builds, and the climax is fantastic-- but it's over too soon. While this shortness does result in a lean record devoid of filler, more content would both extend the album's replayability and provide more opportunity for the band to experiment.
is thus a skeletal but enjoyable effort. The band sounds rejuvenated; perhaps, so happy to be recording again that they rushed this record out without giving it enough content. At any rate, though it is short, Sol Invictus
shows no trace of the lifelessness that plagued Album of the Year
. Overall, it is a great record.