Woe, the fate of the reunion album. It's been seen time and time again: a band splits on a musical cliffhanger, leaving fans wanting more only to return and spit right in the face of their followers with a lazy ensemble of tracks. That's not to say that it's impossible to break this reunion curse though; there are a number of groups that have reignited the flames underneath their on hiatus musical paths. Enter Faith No More
and their attempt at a grungy resurrection.
After an 18 year hiatus (aside from a staggering eight greatest hit album releases), Faith No More rounds off their reunion tour with Sol Invictus
, a 10 track album that thankfully keeps the bands oddities and uniquely varied sense of track progression responsible for their initial fan base. For the most part, it also avoids sounding like a group of 50-year-old men trying to sound cool and retain their rock image...an impressive feat coming from a group of 50-year-old men trying to sound cool and retain their rock image. While the album does eventually plateau, losing some flair and falling into more basic and repetitive styling, it's more than enough to satiate the hunger of a Faith No More fan.
The album opens with "Sol Invictus" and brooding vocals that break down into expositional talk-singing, a common tool used throughout the album. Continuously changing the flow of the tracks with this fluctuation between front man Mike Patton's singing style and the instrumentation give the record the classic obscure feeling that Faith No More made famous. Not quite finding a genre to fit itself in, they still use this uniqueness to their advantage in tracks like "Motherfucker," where dark near whisper vocals give way to a glorious triumphant cry of anger. That anger can't last forever, though. Tracks begin to feel old halfway through the album and while the topics change, the sound often doesn't. Individually, the tracks can be appreciated for how they are crafted, but as an album it's missing something.
Any reunion album will be compared to previous work, that's just how it is. Fans want what they are a fan of. What this album is missing is what their more popular works like Angel Dust
and The Real Thing
had: variation. In Sol Invictus
, good intentions are beat down to a pulp. There aren't any of the occasional rap verses, tasty guitar solos, or beautiful piano accompaniments that brought life to their older work.
Faith No More could have put out a safe 20 track album with nothing truly new or recognizable and join the slew of bands that fall into the reunion album trap. Instead they attempted to retain their unique style and do something new with it. While they may have bitten off more than they could chew and ended up with a somewhat repetitive album...when it shines, it is unmistakably Faith No More.