Faith No More: Sol Invictus

solinvictusFirst impression: The first four tracks of Faith No More’s first album in 18 years all start with “S.”

Second impression: Underwhelmed.

Third impression: My Baby walks into the room when I’m playing “Motherfucker” and is all, “What is this?” She chuckles at the two different ways Patton sings the phrase, including one very epic, soaring version. And then when she is about to leave I’m all, “Wait, you have to listen to him sing ‘Motherfucker’ a third way.” (The one where it’s all emphasizing alternating beats.)

Finally I come around to this full review, four months after its release. This is a very good album and stands well with the band’s second tier of records like King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime and Album Of The Year. Despite bassist Billy Gould being a key member and songwriter, and keyboardist Roddy Bottum adding essential character, Faith No More’s sound has always been primarily defined by its guitarist (which makes it paradoxical that most fans were happy to see Jim Martin kicked out…because he looked “metal”). It makes sense, then, that, stylistically, this album is closest to Album Of The Year, the only other album featuring Jon Hudson on guitar. It’s full of slow burners, a style they started to experiment with on “Easy” and King For A Day and then explored more fully on Hudson’s first record with the band.

The biggest problem with this album is that there’s a bit too much slow, plodding. It’s only ten tracks that come in under ten minutes, and yet some of these songs could still be cut. The band focuses on a formula of a slow, bubbling beginning that builds into frenetic energy and passion by the end, but it just is too much slowness for the most part. “Superhero” is mostly uptempo, but spends too much time in the “leader of men” bit at the end. “Cone Of Shame” might be my favorite song on the disc, but starts of way too slow and has to go through another really slow talking point to get to the highlights. “Motherfucker” is another highlight but starts off too deliberate and the title seems too gratuitous and ends up soaking up all of the attention. It’s great, but it takes some getting into, and as a result I don’t want to pick it up because I know the songs are going to make me work too hard, especially album opener “Sol Invictus.”

I don’t think the slower style fits drummer Mike Bordin, either, as he’s not as prominent here as he was in the band’s faster period, though maybe so many years touring with Ozzy just bored the guy or maybe it’s the production. Who knows?

What I know is that I really like this album, and I love more than half of more than half of the songs.

Rating:
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Really Like:
“Superhero,” “Sunny Side Up,” “Separation Anxiety,” “Motherfucker,” “Matador”
Like:
“Sol Invictus,” “Cone Of Shame,” “Rise Of The Fall,” “Black Friday,” “From The Dead”
Filed Between:
[I don’t know I haven’t unpacked by CDs yet but probably a Faith No More single or collection and then like Fanfare Ciocarila?]
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. Sol Invictus
  2. Superhero – too long. nice Roddy fluorishes at end. Cool rhythms at end
  3. Sunny Side Up –
  4. Separation Anxiety –
  5. Cone Of Shame – awesome at end but goes through a slow start and then a slow talking part to get there
  6. Rise Of The Fall – love the intense second half
  7. Black Friday –
  8. Motherfucker – “Oh, listen to how they sing it the third way!”
  9. Matador – beginning a bit boring “hey that rhymes” my kids would say
  10. From The Dead
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