“We will do something again only when all members are with the focus on that, and ready for the challenge” – said Billy Gould In July 2013. Two years later and 18 years since the previous FNM studio album we’ve got finally “Sol Invictus”. Meanwhile Mr. Patton was king not for one day, but on several occasions, last time on the Zorn’s Moonchild album “The Last Judgement” in 2014, but also on the “The Song Project Vinyl Singles Edition” by the same and restless downtown alchemist, Zorn.
Although it’s been a lifetime since “Album of the Year”, it’s the same line-up as last time. Guitarist Jon Hudson it’s part of the family now although there will be always fans expecting Jim Martin back. Just to sweeten things up a little bit, “Superhero” have some Martin-flavored solid and heavy guitar riffs.
I’m excited about this new album, but also scared of. I should sit back and enjoy the music, not to have any kind of expectation, but it’s difficult!
Seven is a Magick number and the title, “Sol Invictus” have some ceremonial vibe as well, so “Unconquered Sun” set the target high… as the Sun.
The art work, the cover of the record it’s… horrible. No other word to describe that. I focused, I have burned some incense, sung mantras and did a couple of other weird stuffs you don’t wanna know about it, but still don’t see the connection, it make no sense for me. Just remembered Pink Floyd and their precious chorus: “Leave the kids alone!”
Regarding the promo pictures, well, a gimp on a leash it’s not something that FNM really need while – generally speaking – they have music to offer. I got it, it’s fun, the guys are all dressed-up in tuxedos and with fancy glasses of champagne in their hand, but they also keep a gimp on a leash representing how decadent and rotten it’s actually the upper-class, but still…
But, cleared my mind up, get rid of all the impurities and tried not to be judgmental.
The positive sides of “Sol Invictus” are that it’s nothing like any other previous FNM album and it has a couple of interesting moments.
Mike Patton it’s incredible as always, Mike Bordin it’s flawless, Billy Gould have some killer moments and an exciting play throughout, while Jon Hudson and Roddy Bottum contributed with some subtle, but brilliant performances.
The downside is that they are interesting, but not an easy piece to chew. Not at first anyway. But this is FNM we’re talking about! “Superhero” it’s a great song, “Motherfucker” it’s a funny song and in between there are lots of good moments and experiments.
They wanted to do something different, but they ended up doing something not that timeless, but shapeless. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing wrong to be shapeless (“be water my friend!”), the album flows, but somehow do not crash. Not much as I wanted anyway.
The album it’s quite dark, lacking the light, the driving energy and the power of the Sun. If there is some (secret) energy, it stays hidden (occult).
Then again, I know, it’s not polite to criticize Gods and don’t matter what they have done, there always would be unsatisfied fans and critics. Some would cried back the “Epic” type of anthems, others would love to hear more of the subtle (post) rock trips of “King For A Day” and “Album of the Year” era while FNM focused on not repeat themselves.
And “Sol Invictus” it’s unique as all the previous FNM albums were. Love it or… leave it. For now, I try to get comfortable with it. Maybe in one year I will see the light and it’s bright side much clearer then I do it now. Might be like the wine: getting better by aging.
“Sol Invictus” sound like seance music – if seances would have music. It’s a quite dark opening and set the stage for the vibe of the whole album. Challenging God.
“Superhero” have a great rock groove and it’s a 101% Faith No More song with resonances back to the “King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime” era sound. It’s probably the most intense song of the album and definitively the best new song. Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten have crafted a quite interesting remix of it, but the original it’s still better, have much more life in it.
“Sunny Side Up” it’s a rock song, a little bit weird, a little bit Faith No More. “Sol Invictus” means “Unconquered Sun” in Latin, so, this might be considered kind of title (related) track too. Love the rhythmic construction and play of the Bordin-Gould pair and the performance of Patton. The vibe is really good, have some subtle groove and drive.
“Separation Anxiety” it’s quite intense and Bottum have some subtle, but really strong synth pads. The old-school riff of Hudson it’s wicked and heavy while Patton goes crazy as only he knew. All the good FNM elements are there, still it’s different. Excellent job!
“Cone of Shame” kind of reminded me the vibe of the last Tomahawk album (“Oddfellows“), Hudson once again did a great job doing the right thing, but not stepping too much upfront. It’s an art to do great things and staying in the shadow.
“Rise of the Fall” was conceived in the same spirit, but it’s like a twisted nightmare. Quiet moments are spiced-up with pure madness and Patton once again it’s our (spiritual) guide in this odd, parallel universe. Who needs gravity when we are all lunatics?
“Black Friday” should chill things down a little bit, but it’s more like salt in the wound. Don’t get fooled by the acoustic guitars and the uplifting beat, you will get stabbed in the back.
“Motherfucker” might become the new “Easy” or it’s a pretty good parody of their own success. Feels like a Bloodhound Gang track actually. Which is both nice and weird. Patton it’s murderous. This man could sell with his voice anything and put you in his pocket in a blink of the eye.
“Matador” grow slowly and it’s a quite contorted trip. Once again Gould’s bass play it’s absolutely brilliant and Hudson add just the right amount of wicked riffs to make it click. Bordin it’s impetuous while Patton it’s… Patton.
“From the Dead” it’s a pretty little song, give a nice closure to this tumultuous journey. Perfect ending.
01. Sol Invictus
03. Sunny Side Up
04. Separation Anxiety
05. Cone of Shame
06. Rise of the Fall
07. Black Friday
10. From the Dead
Release Date: 20 Apr, 2015
Faith No More – Official Site
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