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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Metal Hammer | May 2015

Mercurial Rockers return to upset the apple cart...

Joe Daly

For a band that had deftly eluded all attempts at pigeonholing for nearly two decades. Faith No More's 1998 break-up was ironically predictable.

As the unrelenting pressures of mainstream success battered their hull, internally, the musicians - vocalist Mike Patton, keyboardist Roddy Bottum, bassist Billy Gould, guitarist Jon Hudson and drummer Mike Bordin - had grown weary of striking the hard-fought creative compromise that had underpinned each album. This very tension -which had invested their music with such prismatic vitality - would ultimately tear the band apart. On the heels of their sixth outing, Album Of The Year they formally disbanded.

After years of steadfast denials regarding any manner of reunion, FNM's 2009 tour announcement was met with eye-watering joy among the faithful. But the band were never

going to reunite only to slog through the same setlists they played 20 years earlier instead they began writing fresh material to have something new to play on the road. More songs would emerge and this May sees FNM's first clutch of new musk in 17 years - their seventh studio campaign, Sol Invictus.

The titular opener rings in their new chapter with a somber, piano-driven dirge filled out with a pulsating riff and stark atmospherics - in short, precisely the sort of unanticipated maneuvering one might expect. And If anybody had feared that the passage of time had mellowed the lads', their DJ-vexing first single, Motherfucker, eviscerated such concerns in a profane cavalcade of shout-out vocals, vitriolic Lyricism and a stratospheric climax. Scorchers abound. Hurtling tempos cast the breathtaking Superhero into a storm of buzzsaw riffs and Mike's throat-shredding howls, while Cone Of Shame opens at high noon in a spaghetti western, adorned with echoey guitars and a baleful spoken-word passage, converging in a siege of concussive rhythms that drop like sledgehammers. Separation Anxiety pits Mike's unhinged falsetto against rapid-fire Lyrics, as brooding rhythms gather and erupt into the neck breaking beatdown of the chorus. This is a defining hallmark of the band's sound. Time and again they demonstrate a capacity for Grafting chest-beating, anthemic hooks that bands like the Foo Fighters could only hope to write, and yet rather than release the full-on mainstream hit of which they are capable, FNM embed these interludes within slow burning forays of experimentalism. Tracks like Sunny Side Up (earworm alert) and closer From The Dead set vibrant melodic counterpoints to the heavier fare, and while not all tracks are as immediate. Matador, Rise Of The Fall and Black Friday each reveal uniquely-absorbing dynamics, given a bit of time to breathe.

It would be a grave mistake to hold an album of such depth and maturity to a lesser standard of scrutiny out of some well intentioned but misguided sense of nostalgia.

There's simply no need; Sol Invictus stands easily on its own, rising shoulder to shoulder with the very best of the band's catalogue a thrilling, ambitious and multidimensional voyage that grows progressively more satisfying with each successive spin. Brilliant.

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