Leading German magazine Der Spiegel recently gave Sol Invictus a brilliant 9.5/10 review. The review is written by the editor of Spex – who also did that wonderful double review of the Faith No More album and Blur’s Magic Whip – Torsten Groß and we’re very fortunate that the brilliant Mira has provided expert translation in English for us.
In May 1997 FNM performed at Berlin’s SO36. They looked tired and listless, obviously disliked each other even though dressed in uniformed suits. The title of the album that the show was promoting seemed even more ridiculous against this background than it was anyway: ‘Album of the Year’ – which then wasn’t the album of the year but the Californian’s swansong. In 1998 it was over, singer Mike Patton suggested to please shoot him if he was to play with Faith No More ever again.
11 years later it happened to be that Patton and drummer Mike Bordin met again at Roddy Bottum’s wedding. They wallowed in nostalgia – and suddenly from 2009 on Faith No More played a couple of shows every once in a while. Parallel to this rapprochement the musicians secretly started recording a new album about two years ago. Gould and Bottum had a couple of ideas, Patton reportedly needed to be convinced on a night out drinking.
You would believe it, because of all it was hard to see Patton as part of Faith No More again. While Bill Gould struggled through the years, Patton made clear that his interpretation of crossover had more to do with John Zorn than with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with more and more crazy and in parts unlovable projects, sometimes even tainted with a pinch of arrogance. Patton is a top singer who covers the entire range from softly seducing crooning to hysterical metal shouting – and enjoys showing it off.
The romantic fairytale of a band whose total is greater then the sum of their parts seems to be coming true now. ‘Sol Invictus’ shows once again that only Gould and Bottum are able to handle Patton’s expressive talent and give it a concise frame. In the remoteness of Gould’s studio, FNM, together with guitarist Jon Hudson – predecessor Jim Martin breeds award-winning pumpkins today and didn’t bother to take part – reflected on their core virtues, without a label, producer or management. The only weakness of the old Faith No More was them, in some sort of a post-pubertal attitude, insisting on not meeting any expectations.
Now they managed to incorporate this anarchic stance into an album which turns out to be astonishingly homogeneous despite its vast stylistic bandwidth. From the sinister title song to the final chord of “From the Dead”, not a single tone is out of position. “Superhero” is a mangy angry bastard, “Cone of Shame” a dynamic shuffle with a ghost train-like middle part, “Black Friday” an easy western ballad, “Matador” finally serves as an example of everything Faith No More are and always were. A kind of a mini rock opera, an indie version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” so to speak. Mike Patton nags, shouts and purrs, he whispers and crows, seduces the listener to finally spit him out with ease. A masterpiece, nothing less. (9,5/10, Torsten Groß)