Published May 12, 2015There 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.
Since their return to performing live in 2009, after their initial breakup in 1998, there have always been rumours of a new record; Sol Invictus is the delivery of that long-awaited possibility, their first fresh offering in 17 years. Much like their third record The Real Thing tried to speak to the contemporary moment — a world in chaos, the Berlin Wall coming down — Sol Invictus also speaks to the present, and for the most part, it nails it. This is a record profoundly disillusioned by a future more dystopian than hopeful, where superheroes are motherfuckers and the large hadron collider has replaced the hammer and sickle. Mike Patton's performance is the main draw of the record, as he possesses hands down the best voice in rock and metal on this planet. His dynamic range in on point, his swings from madness to delicacy are dizzying.
Sol Invictus is occasionally more self-conscious than any of Faith No More's previous records, the moments of weirdness in the guitar work a bit too deliberate and glib, a little bit out of place in the world they are trying to speak to. There is a gap now, the product of being away so long, and that distance produces an ache, a sense of deep yearning, of not-quite-enoughness in the listener that actually suits the sense of futurist disappointment the record is working with nicely. Sol Invictus isn't perfect, and it's not their best work, but Faith No More creaking with a little rust and blinking cobwebs is still a glorious thing. (Reclamation Recordings / Ipecac Recordings)