Review Summary: So, apparently Filter is a Mac and Stabbing Westward is a PC.
My opening summary is a stupid joke referencing the old I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC
commercials, and if you knew that already, you’ve probably enjoyed at least a few Filter songs back in the day. Anyway, the reason that joke is even loosely relevant is because Stabbing Westward’s comeback release from last year featured a song called “Ctrl Z” and this album has one called “Command Z”. Both are key commands that enable you to undo your mistakes, so it’s fitting that two bands three decades into their career are starting to look back instead of forward – ostensibly wishing they could undo a mistake or two. On The Algorithm
, Richard Patrick was definitely looking back to his roots. In fact, when the album was first announced, the exciting news was the return of founding member Brian Liesegang. His return was meant to signal the resurrection of the band’s raw industrial rock beginnings and was even going to be titled ReBus
in acknowledgement. That collaboration was (unsurprisingly) short-lived, and Filter was once again the Richard Patrick project. Fortunately, despite the personnel change, the initial direction remained.
In a nutshell, The Algorithm
combines the organic sounds of Short Bus
with the industrialized rock of Crazy Eyes
, along with a few new musical wrinkles, and is easily the best thing the band have done since The Amalgamut
. Album opener, “The Drowning”, is a modern, electronics-laden, song that could have come straight from Short Bus
. Honestly, if the whole release was simply a modern interpretation of Short Bus
’s formula, it would have probably been good enough for most people, but there’s more to it than that. Songs such as “Up Against the Wall” and “Say It Again” turn that formula on its head by delivering an industrialized, simplified, version of what I can only describe as Tesseract-lite – complete with the sharp bass tone and busy drumming, pushed by a traditional Filter delivery. Interspersed throughout typical Filter fare, there’s snippets of nu-metal, dubstep, industrial metal, and even a Def Leppard-inspired (to these ears) pre-chorus. Richard Patrick didn’t entirely forget about the fans that enjoyed his more mainstream releases. For them, there are the radio-ready sounds of “Face Down” and “Summer Child”. In fact, they’ve even managed to finally rival the best Filter ballad ever (“Take a Picture” – of course) with “Burn Out the Sun”.
In case it isn’t clear, The Algorithm
is full of diverse sounds and ideas that maintains a cohesive aura thanks to the singular vision and style of Richard Patrick. Each song brings its own individualized set of ideas to the Filter formula, delivering an album that is easily the least homogeneous in their discography. Despite a collection of quality tracks, the centerpiece is easily “Be Careful What You Wish For”. This song features everything you’d expect from the band – pulsating electronics, a driving rhythmic beat, chunky riffs, and a catchy chorus – and it is executed flawlessly. If there is a single element that isn’t always as strong as one might expect, it’s the vocals of Richard Patrick. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that a fifty-five-year-old man that hasn’t always prioritized his health can’t sing like he used to. His sharp, powerful, rasp has become grizzled and beaten, sounding almost tired in places, and his cleaner singing sometimes lacks the range it once had. While noticeable, it isn’t really a deal-breaker and isn’t nearly as dramatic a decline as some of his peers.
After seven years of chaos and uncertainty, Richard Patrick has finally delivered The Algorithm
, and it was worth the wait. Despite losing Brian Liesegang (again), it didn’t stop Richard from delivering an album that pays homage to the band’s roots while simultaneously picking up where Crazy Eyes
left off while even brining in some new influences. Of course, age hasn’t been entirely kind to Richard’s voice, but he can still deliver as well as ever; it’s just that instead of youthful exuberance, his lyrics are now delivered with grizzled resolve. If it takes six years for Richard Patrick to deliver an album like The Algorithm
, I’d say it was time well spent.