Sol Invictus: the “Unconquered Sun”. A Roman god who was brought up to a state of a cult by a Roman emperor. With every night, he was forced to submit to the chaos of darkness, yet emerged as victor every morning.
History lesson aside, Faith No More’s new album Sol Invictus has a close connection to the Roman concept. The band was always as the forefront of the rising metal scene of the late 80s to the late 90s. The band called it quits as shockingly as they had come out of the dark in 1998, reuniting in 2009 through 2012 for the “The Second Coming” Tour. It was not until this year the band finally released new material, for the first time in nearly two decades. In what has become one of the most anticipated metal records of the year, Sol Invictus delivered just what you’d expect from Faith No More.
The album is fairly diverse in sound where it wants to be. Faith No More makes strong use of pianos early on in the album, notably leading in tracks like ‘Sol Invictus’ and ‘Superhero,’ whereas it begins to take a more background approach in ‘Sunny Side Up’. ‘Separation Anxiety’ brings in the palm-muted, thick guitar tones in the verses, almost comparable to certain Tool tracks. This track in particular brings in some particularly heavier sounds to the table. Mike Patton delivers some brutal vocals on it to - understated yet forceful in the same manner. ‘Cone Of Shame’ brings some more creepy vocals to the table, with a more of a spoken-word approach to it. The riff then kicks in, resulting in a pure jam. ‘Rise Of The Fall’ brings some old-school vibes to it (closest comparison of a song I can think of is Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven’), bringing back the piano instrumentation to the front. Some alternate instruments in the string and brass sections make an appearance, too. ‘Black Friday’ is a bit weirder, harkening back to the feel of ‘Cone Of Shame’. Personally, the lyrics to ‘Motherfucker’ feel a little repetitive melodically at this point, but the lyrics (while a bit cliché) are pretty uplifting in a way. It almost feels like this song would work better towards the beginning of the album rather than near the end. ‘Matador’ repeats the formula of ‘Sunny Side Up’ before the album concludes on a high, triumphant note with ‘From The Dead’.
At some point, however, the album brings up a certain sense of déjà vu. Every track is individual in its own right, yet there is a point where things begin getting repetitive. For example, the reggae/baroque vibe of ‘Rise Of The Fall’ feels like a callback to the piano-led ‘Sol Invictus’. The whole “start small, bring in big instrumentation later’ is also evident on several tracks. ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cone Of Shame’ follow essentially the same exact pattern of each other; I’d go as far as to say they could even be alternate versions of the same song. Really, that’s my only complaint. If the album was a bit more diverse and less crafted upon one repetitive formula each song, perhaps I could have enjoyed it a little more than I did.
Let’s take a step back - Sol Invictus, that Roman God we discussed earlier. He was forced to battle the powers of darkness every night, coming out victorious every morning. In essence, Faith No More’s Sol Invictus shares a similar overarching meaning. Battling the evil within something, someone, or even yourself to rise again with each new day. The band’s newest album is a solid effort and a strong comeback, but definitely has room for improvement.
Favorite Tracks: Sol Invictus, Superhero, Separation Anxiety
Least Favorite Tracks: Black Friday, Motherfucker
Overall Rating: 7.5/10