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Sol Invictus

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Album Review

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. While it's more unified and less aggressively eccentric than Angel Dust, 2015's Sol Invictus — Faith No More's first album since regrouping for live work in 2011 — certainly captures the same "anything goes" spirit of their best album, and the results capture the feel of their finest work. The band's willfully bent take on hard rock is a bit softened here, thanks to the continuing absence of original guitarist Jim Martin, but Jon Hudson's six-string work is more than up to the shape-shifting attack of this album, and keyboardist Roddy Bottum shines here as the songs swing between the arty and the claustrophobically intense, ambitious in their melodic structures but unafraid to hit hard (and bassist Bill Gould and drummer Mike Bordin bring both the precision and the muscle this music demands). And if you want to argue that Mike Patton took control of the group once "Epic" hit (and you'd probably be right), there's no question that he did some impressive work with the materials at his disposal, and even as Sol Invictus sounds more collaborative than Angel Dust, it shows he had the chops and the crackpot vision to lead this band into strange but remarkable places. From the churning paranoia of "Separation Anxiety" and the distressed funk of "Sunny Side Up" to the blasting impact of "Cone of Shame" and the broadly theatrical closing number "From the Dead," Patton's range is every bit as broad as the band's, and if he hasn't guided Faith No More to a second masterpiece, Sol Invictus is their best and most compelling work since Angel Dust, and the rare reunion album that truly adds to the strength of the group's legacy rather than diluting it.

Customer Reviews

Leader of bands

I'd buy that for ten dollars!

Such a bummer!

I am a die hard FNM fan. There are memorable songs from every one of their albums. However, I strongly assert that their greatest album was Angel Dust - not because of the Jim Martin, guitar-heavy, influence - but rather, the intensity of layered, melodic, gritty, and dynamic sound that takes you from hardcore to soft-hearted emotions within a single song. It was truly an audio masterpiece. Sol Invictus?...not so much. It falls right in line with many of Mike Patton's various other projects that focus heavily on bizarre/frivolous experimentation, rather than the layered, thoughtful, and intense melody that die hard FNM fans hope to hear. Make no mistake, I would argue that Mr. Patton is probably one of the greatest front men in musical history and his vocal prowess is demonstrated on this album. Moreover, the rest of the band members are legends in their own right! However, it just wasn't what I was hoping for. With that said, I have a great deal of respect for this band, and they have the right to create whatever sound they so desire!! It's just that I was hoping for something much different than this album. From my perspective, there are only 2 decent songs and they were released before this album dropped. It's kinda' like when you capture the gist of entire movie just from watching the preview - they show you all the best parts just to get you to show up to the theater. Much love to FNM. You are still one of the greatest bands of all time. But this is not a great album.

One of my favorite bands but...

….if you’re going to come out of retirement, try to make something worth while. Sorry guys but this album is awful. This is a bad mash up of Mike Patton solo work and Faith No More and it doesn’t work. I was so excited about his album, but after hearing it, utterly disappointed. I still love these guys but I’m not not funding their retirement fund.


Formed: 1981 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

With their fusion of heavy metal, funk, hip-hop, and progressive rock, Faith No More have earned a substantial cult following. By the time they recorded their first album in 1985, the band had already had a string of lead vocalists, including Courtney Love; their debut, We Care a Lot, featured Chuck Mosley's abrasive vocals but was driven by Jim Martin's metallic guitar. Faith No More's next album, 1987's Introduce Yourself, was a more cohesive and impressive effort; for the first time, the rap and...
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