Release Date: May 19, 2015
Record label: Ipecac
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Funk Metal
It’s been 18 years since seminal metal-freak weirdos Faith No More have released a proper album, but it’s inaccurate to say that their fourth full-length, Sol Invictus, has been 18 years in the making. The band was once thought completely done until most of them agreed to a string of reunion dates beginning in 2009, and slowly regained the vision of their often bizarre muses. In the time since the original lineup split, Patton has become a ubiquitous experimental renaissance man, establishing further influential credentials in bands like Tomahawk, Fantomas, Peeping Tom and even releasing a solo album of ‘50s and ‘60s Italian pop covers on Mondo Cane.
It’s been 17 years since San Francisco’s Faith No More released an album, splitting a couple of years afterwards to work on other projects. After more than a decade of whining from their obsessively loyal fanbase, they reformed in 2009 and have toured extensively, but it’s taken this long for them to release an album. Knowing this band, they probably took their sweet time over it just to annoy people.
In the years before Nirvana rewrote the book on the commercial possibilities of alternative rock, Faith No More were one of the rare alt-rock acts that managed to have a major commercial success on their own terms with the catchy but uncompromised funk-metal monster "Epic," from 1989's The Real Thing. But it quickly became clear that wild card vocalist Mike Patton, who joined during the sessions for The Real Thing, had greater stylistic ambitions for Faith No More than he was able to cram into that album's framework, and the group's follow-up, 1992's Angel Dust, was a strange, fascinating, and wildly diverse album that blew open the group's creative palette without much concern for their new audience, and in the grand tradition of the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique, it was at once a creative touchstone and a commercial disappointment. While Faith No More soldiered on to make two more fine albums before calling it quits in 1998, the band's furious eclecticism seemed to reach a wider audience after they broke up, thanks to the cult following that embraced Patton's later projects such as Tomahawk, Fantomas, and Peeping Tom, and looked back to Faith No More with open ears.
There is no band on earth quite like Faith No More. No other aggressive outfit occupies a similar space or maintains the same kind of razor's edge balance in so many different registers: between genres and aesthetics, the lovely and the vulgar, the chaotic and the supremely ordered. They are a band of contrasts and foils, playing with the way everything sharp and hard and brutal about metal can slam into the buttery smoothness and thickness of funk: the way Mike Patton's unhinged and unpredictable vocals are bounded and defined by Mike Bordin's deeply structured drumming; the way their performances can embody at once an almost courtly formality and a sense of danger.
On a clear autumn night in 1989, Faith No More played to a packed house in Berlin while, not far across town, the book of Western civilization began its latest chapter. The fall of the Berlin Wall meant many things to many people: unification, liberation, the beginning of an era, and a bursting forth of possibilities. And right there, smack in the middle of history, was Mike Patton screaming something half-coherent into a microphone and Billy Gould hammering out the bass line to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”.
Sol Invictus is an interesting version of the reunion album. Over the past decade, plenty of indie rock and heavy metal bands have returned from long hiatuses for reasons both monetary and creative. When the former has been the focus (hello, The Pixies), the eventual album has tended to be disappointing. When a band just seems to want to work together again (any number of metal acts from the past 10 years, plus Harvey Milk, Swans, and Dinosaur, Jr.), their albums have been much more successful.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Faith No More released their last studio album, Album of The Year. Since then, Mike Patton, the man who is arguably the band’s main focus, has been remarkably busy. There’s been his label Ipecac, the various bands (including Tomahawk, who perhaps came closest to replacing Faith No More in terms of sound), the video game sound effects, and a short lived acting career in the Lynch-esque Firecracker.
From their humble, early beginnings trading as Sharp Young Men, way back in 1979, through to their last studio album in 1997 and eventual break-up in 1998, Faith No More was a rabid tour de force of a band; undeniably clever performers and songwriters they remained as unpredictable as they were addictive. Their fan base grew to the point that when they re-emerged as a live act in 2009, people flooded to every festival outing to see them as a priority. The success of their own shows only spurred them on to produce this very album, their first for 18 years.
When alt-metal pranksters Faith No More called it quits in the late Nineties, they were too weird for the headbangers and too heavy for Alternative Nation. Now, with indie rock and harder music crossing paths more frequently, the times have finally caught up with them. Sol Invictus, the band's first record since 1997's underrated Album of the Year, offers newer, better versions of Faith No More's formula: spaghetti-Western guitars ("Cone of Shame"), proggy keyboard drama ("Matador") and tons of vocal contortions from lead singer Mike Patton ("Rise of the Fall").
The last time Faith No More released a studio album, Opal Fruits were a popular confectionery, Princess Diana was enjoying the world of post-divorce dating and the most sophisticated piece of technology in your pocket was a Tamagotchi. All those things are dead now, rebranded to suit a globalised marketplace, assassinated conspiratorially by the Illuminati, or starved to death, by you, you neglectful git. But Faith No More, at least, are back from the grave.
Faith No More were as self-destructive as the characters their songs portrayed, at least when it came to their career trajectory. Owning the charts in 1989 with The Real Thing album and its genre-defining “Epic” single, they willfully renounced commercial success with their fourth album, Angel Dust. The 1992 effort sacrificed the crowd-pleasing funk-metal of their pubescence for damaged alternative metal that wore as many emotional scars as musical sub-genres.
"There’s a lot of stupid things that happen in the world that you can’t control,” Faith No More bassist Billy Gould told Pitchfork. "It’s funny, but it’s not funny. It’s there. But it’s great to have enough of a connection with that mentality where you can interact with it and poke your finger in it a little." That joker’s soul, that urge to poke, can be traced through all of Faith No More's biggest moments, from their stunning hit "Epic" to their genre-defying, commercially unsuccessful (and critically acclaimed) 1992 opus Angel Dust.
Mike Patton is one of rock’s few contemporary iconoclasts. After accidentally creating the blueprint for nu-metal with Faith No More in the 80s and 90s, he kept himself busy during the band’s hiatus by taking on odd jobs including a stint as frontman for grindcore act Dillinger Escape Plan, as well as composing the score for Jason Statham’s cardiac arrest-based action film Crank 2. Sol Invictus sees him and Faith No More return with their first studio album since 1997, and Patton – who once famously slammed Wolfmother’s atavistic Led Zep-lite routine – seems to have lost none of his urge to experiment.
Comeback albums are notoriously dicey propositions. The bigger the legacy, the bigger the wager; an artistic disappointment can assume the gravity of a betrayal. Faith No More labors to avoid that fate on their first album in 18 years, Sol Invictus, mercifully ditching the more dated parts of their bombastic weirdo pop-metal (the slap bass and woeful rapping) and emphasizing their versatility and knack for hugeness.
Mike Patton retains his cult for making a 25-year career of Doing Whatever He Wants, less in the Tom Waits model than a more slovenly one: He’s like a hometown school friend whom you can’t believe is still pressing CD-Rs. The crucial difference is obviously that the garage band who used to play at parties didn’t have a 1990 MTV megahit as Faith No More did with “Epic”; the guy whose parents went out of town didn’t commission a 30-piece orchestra to record an all-covers album of Italian pop songs. The breadth of his (lack of) taste is impressive — in Mr.
Even when the band was racking up radio hits and Grammy nominations, Faith No More always seemed like deliberate outsiders—outside the mainstream, outside any particular scene, outside musically. Grunge couldn’t claim the San Francisco band, because it was too metal. More mainstream metal fans found Faith No More’s flights of fancy—a rap verse here, a piano breakdown there—too left of center.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up six of the best new album releases from this week: catch up ….