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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Faith No More - Sol Invictus review

Year : 2015
Genre : Alternative Metal
Label : Reclamation Records / Ipecac
Origin : United States
Rating : 9.0 / 10

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What can you say about a new Faith No More full length beside wanting to say everything and then something more about it? The renowned group is notorious for a set of illustrious and well deserved feats, the casual invention of funk-, and alternative metal steadily included among those timeless accomplishments. If you are a newcomer to music in general - which happens to everyone, usually sooner than later - then the mere act of correctly gauging and weighing the significance of this group, is not self-explanatory at all.

Suffice it to say that Faith No More was THE upcoming band that other bands of  excessive amounts of established notoriety of the given era seemed and reported to enjoy listening the most to: Slash of Runs 'N Goses, the members of Metallica, and as I recall, even Nirvana expressed their utter and complete artistic admiration towards what Faith No More was doing even back in 1992, - the era of "Angel Dust", a timeless record to this very day - while Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour goes as far as to say that witnessing Faith No More's live performance of Epic in 1990's MTV Awards, - from the audience - has completely rewrote his nervous system and gave him a completely new grasp on music.

Read on to know more about the release.

I myself have grown up (sic!) listening to Faith No More abundantly, and their music always was among the few that had the most complex emotional impact on me, as I always found their music to be a super-unique, extremely delicious and provocative alloy of sloppy elegance, playfulness, rabid craziness, provocation, and an exquisitely well refined musical taste and mere approach towards sound. If they have found out a groove, they always have managed to compliment it in that fantastic-, optimally elitist musical way that always showcased balls, exigency, and a very high awareness level towards how to find and how to reveal musical BEAUTY and "simplistic complexity" in the given context, even when there was none supposed to be found. I think there is huge credit to be given to all the participants of the band for accomplishing this overall effect, as no doubt they are true wizards on their respective instruments, and this is not even about virtuosity and fretboard-acrobatics. It is an extremely keen sense of harmony and rhythm, that primarily fuels the Faith No More beast and beats. Those unmistakable tribal drum patterns of Mike Bordin, when complimented with a raging guitar and a heartwrenchingly beautiful precise and brittle synth on the higher frequencies, all offered on top of Bill Gould's unmistakable bass - what is not to love?

Their songs to this day remain testaments of a superbly realized and relentless urge to build songs up pretty much from scratch, at least this is my suspicion. My constrained expectations and hopes for this new release were nothing short of a desire to experience those above mentioned eloquent and complex sentiments through newly researched and delivered Faith No More patterns. I wanted them to bath me once again in those feelings that only Faith No More could pull out in me/from me so far, but mind you that it wasn't like a "demand", I only hoped that they still share the same untamed urge to radically and to beautifully entertain, and I had zero doubt that they still have the capacity to do so, if they indeed come and cared enough to share it on consensus.

Well, if you look at the score, then it is obvious enough of an indicator that the band did not disappoint, and frankly, I consider it to be a ballsy move from them that they deliver a full length of "mere" 39 minutes. But this 39 minutes are fucking golden, I'm telling you. Still, I could not possibly give a 10 for 39 minutes, when Symphony X has worked their adamantit asses off to successfully get to hell and back with their fresh release their forged in the process, weighing in well over the 60+ minutes mark. So Faith No More has to be content with 9 of 10 points now. I can imagine the reaction of "tEh" Patton. ; ) Read on anyhoo to see what is up with the tracks on this release.

You CAN't talk about the songs yet, tEh Patton is around!

Oh yeah, right. There really is no way around it, so let's get this out of the way and admit it as it is: Faith No More is a BAND, first and foremost, but everything else in it: is frontman Mike Patton, as his vocal talents-. combined with his willingness and efficiency at revealing myriad characteristics of emotions and radical moods, toppled then by his default eccentricity: make him virtually-, I dare say, practically unrivaled to this day as the frontman with the most reliable and most wide range/set of tools at his immediate disposal, and he even holds the world record as the singer with the most ridiculously wide vocal range. It is well documented that the guy can go 7 octaves, and there is no telling if he even had any difficulty doing so.

What is more interesting, is his mere timber, as he certainly is capable to render utterly and completely different characteristics AND super-authentic emotional/narrative context with his singing, ranging from staggeringly beautiful clean singing - Deep Deep Down - to psychotic, murderous, demented idiocy - Gentle Art of Making Enemies, just listen to the end - that surely smuggles a tear or two into the eyes of a serial killer. A hopefully interesting question to Mike Patton:

Mike! Why Does a Serial Killer Kill - STILL??

Patton is one of those rare (?) individuals who secretly have a compartment in their souls "who" is a limitless, uninhibited sociopath, - okay, well, who lacks that part all the time/sometimes? - an evident villain, and this - in my opinion - tame FACT, is not even concealed by his personal behavior and conduct that much, as it seems "just" obvious to me that the guy is bored to death with the usually dumb-as-fuck stock-questions he receives from interviewers, tolerating them politely and acting as requested by social norms, but he would find it hilarious if the interviewer's head would be chewn off by a bypasser Godzilla - and, if you wouldn't, then you are not a person safe enough to go into a lift with - so it is clear that Patton is practically BEGGING to be asked something that finally could entertain him a bit, as he is in this existence field almost exclusively in order to entertain, and to BE entertained.

Mind you that I'm not claiming that he is not a mature person, quite the contrary: he is hopelessly mature enough to not get all that tangled up in "norms", because norms are indeed boring constructs orchestrated to accommodate the ones with the least potential, - I'm not fascist, by the way (but I'm not fascist from the position of a suprafascist) - but the denial of the norm should not equate with mere-, lazy, placid, self-congratulatory and childish, non-profitable deviation, as only relevant and profitable deviations, that are characterized by meaning and significance, are the acceptable deviations for the artist, and, if he would assume that no such deviations are lingering in the consciousness field to be uncovered anymore, then Patton long would have chosen to die already instead. Essentially, he TRULY is in it for the MUSIC. Such optimum radicality is the case with Phil Anselmo, too, in my opinion. So Patton might be a covert sociopath with awesome talents, but he first and foremost is an artist, with an unquestionable and elite-grade artist identity, and one of the most relevant artists of this day and age, for that matter. If you are questioning this, then you are not getting the guy. Deal with it.

Patton is sufficiently intelligent to have arrived to the conclusion long ago that the best place to express and contain demons in, is indeed in entertainment, so one is not forced to unleash ego-demons on others. REGARDLESS: have no doubts whatsoever that if there is unquestionable entertainment value in a given set of lyrics revolving around the act of beating nuns to death with the severed heads of satanic rubber sex dolls, then Patton will immediately approve, because he considers the effect first, and does not care about conventions, nor of what Peter SevenhundredSatanDicks Robertson will say on television the other day. (Everyone knows what he will say, so there is no novelty or relevant information transfer imminent in the vicinity.)

Now for the Music on Sol Invictus

These guys in Faith No More are no longer young. Nor old enough yet to call it a day. The music on the disc is first and foremost indicative of maturity and an optimum form of introspection. The optimum form of introspection is the state when a human realizes the fact that she/he will unquestionably: DIE, but still has a bunch of days to live through nevertheless, so might as well make some music in the process, music chiseled and fueled by the accumulated wisdom, with true optimum potential of enriching the profitability of consensus with the creation of the art. I recently have linked my quite recent review of the latest to date-, great record of Symphony X, and, in that piece, I emphasized my percept of how that superb progressive metal band has cultivated a formula which is totally suitable to deliver high profile music through. What they are doing, is a form of industry, and I do not consider their music to be less relevant as result of this, because they-, even if they want to conform to a certain wavelength of expectation, they remain intent and able to deliver constant quality within the constraints of the selected norm. But such an approach would bore Faith No More to death and beyond. I already have expressed my suspicion that Faith No More likes to build up a track from scratch, and they are not interested in developing a formula that is able to produce trusty and acceptable results.

Something that seems to fortify my above mentioned notions, is that this disc is extremely-, and optimally colorful, the case is such indeed that each and every track on the spin is a separate entity, connected "only" by a willingness to co-operatively introspect into-, and unto the human condition, while giving a wink or two OR an outright thorough staredown contest to death. The funny thing about staredown contest with death, that death always have won so far. The album concludes with the lyrics: "I can see the end, welcome home, my friend." Who says this to who? Does the protagonist meet with an old friend - like band members? - and do they lovingly and adeptly conclude the very fact of their aging, and do they simultaneously appreciate and love each other, seeing how life and time have taken their undeniable tolls on all of them, and there is no longer any "valid" point(s) to boasting, and peacocking around? It is a very ballsy and meaningful conclusion to the release, in my opinion, and a quite uplifting and mature choice as a closure. They did not seek to bombard the ending of the release with anything of extreme pseudo-significance, instead, they chose to conclude it with something very human, thereby coating it with true significance, as result of its elegant simplicity and mature honesty. Oh, this is the last song on the album, by the way, called "Back from the dead". And welcome back, by the way.

Titular track "Sol Invictus" strikes up moods of somber introspection and criticism of the alleged norms of the human condition. The music has a sinister and tormented vibe to it, while maintaining a careful connection with the verges of beauty, as well. These are the types of patterns and sonic structures that are not given for free. One has to EARN these patterns, so to say, and this is why it becomes a privilege to listen to them. The devil hides in the details, skillfully highlighted by quite clever lines: "peace ain't coming our way, but the sun keeps burning my face". Which essentially conveys the message that all is given to establish peace, after all, the sun is shining, and is ready to join the peace party every second of the day. This is a line which is very similar to the line from that Iron Maiden classic - I do not know which one, unfortunately - which goes something like this: "in the dirt, in the mud, what are we fighting for?"

The song "Superhero" served as a marketing device, released on consensus by the period through which it was known fact that the coming of a new Faith No More full length is both unquestionable and imminent. I LOVE the structure of the song, but must admit that I'm not entirely am blown away by the chorus - there is nothing wrong with it, but there is nothing that would strike me as much as if it - well - would do JUST that. The "go-go-go" part is radical enough to rightfully demand to be taken seriously, but its related musical thrill, in my opinion, is below average when considered in the context of the renowned Faith No More standards of true provocative elegance. The function of the song was/is to stir interest in the further parts of the anatomy of the release, and for this agenda, it is a wise enough choice, and it doubtless showcases interesting elements of variation, that become particularly observable when you have given the piece sufficient time to grow on you: I especially dig the breakdown revolving around a rhythmic buildup, - oops - through which Mike Bordin commands the whole mass of the sonic collective to submit to the Laws as declared on spot via his drums. Had the song feature a more convincing base chorus, - even though I must admit that I like it better and better each time I hear it, such often is the case with this band - I'd have zero gripes with it. There is one significant extra saving grace yet: at the climax section, Patton starts to belt out epic background vocals, battling with all effect processors of the world, and emerging victorious, all this in a valiant effort to compliment the harmonies of the chorus, channeling his Abdul Alhazred like there is no tomorrow. This "might be" a political song.

"Sunny Side Up" is a tastefully constructed testament on how the band still enjoys the command to chisel out a song characterized by warm, reverberating sounds and particularly rich harmonic structures and melodic, rhythmic movement. The lyrics maintain the clever right to interchange between an abstract interpretation-possibility, counterpointed by a somber, contemplative stance of beautifully realized-, relative melancholy. This melancholy though sports enough of a dignity and honesty yet that it longs for acceptance, and not for anyone's pity. Patton is very cute - and I'm not even gay - when he sings: "I'm just a grain of sand on your beach". I suspect that the line is indicative of a metaphoric suggestion directed to discreetly expose the continuous machinations of the consciousness ecosystem, and YOU suspect this, too. I wouldn't at all be surprised had some fellow music critic compare this piece to the Faith No More song called "Evidence", obtainable on their timeless 1995 outing, "King for a day, fool for a lifetime", and the comparison doubtless a valid one. But there is yet another premier function to this song: with its unusually brief volumetrics, - the track is a little bit shy of reaching the 3 minute mark, even though it is quite evident that it has so much more in it, but it gets intentionally discarded, as per strategic decision, as you will see - and, via the free spirited mood it conveys, it becomes an essential plot device to fooling your awareness into thinking that nice things are about to come. As result of this, all the more is the impact of the consecutive track, which essentially explodes into your consciousness as a meteor, doing so on skillfully orchestrated Meshuggah registers, while you are still in the process of wondering "oh boy, why this nice song just stopped all of a sudden?" So, a wise strategic decision is observable, which elevates the efficiency of the whole record, even though "Sunny Side Up" had to shortened, but this gives even more reasons to frequent and appreciate the song.

As hinted just some lines ago - albeit some of those represent mere space - with the song "Separation Anxiety", an EVIDENT Meshuggah influence is observable! Have you caught the brief-, but hilarious shout effect right at the beginning though? It remains in the background, panning left and right among the guitars. Listen to the main riffing in this Faith No More song, THEN listen to the Meshuggah song "Swarm". Hear it? The same methodology of building a relentless environment of mean, fat, claustrophobic guitars, is utilized. Hear how the whole build is further complimented by that synth? This methodology is quite frequently utilized both by Faith No More and by Meshuggah, although Meshuggah naturally accomplishes the effect with additional guitars, while Faith No More used to rely on synths. It is renowned that Patton loves Meshuggah and even states in an interview that he was an a tour with them, and seeing Meshuggah perform live - he jokingly and flatteringly said the following - it made Patton want to give up music, so astonishing Meshuggah's playing was. The theme of "Separation Anxiety" has a Gollam theme in its beginning, "You know it's mooooeeeaaaaiiine!" - courted by a melodic set of vocals by which Patton lets his softer singing methodologies shine through - but later the track explodes into a fantastic-, smartly constrained grind that reveals the true meanness of the guitars, letting them reach their pulsating peak levels of unalloyed bad intentions, but before this happens, Patton delivers two melodic segments of relevance, just to conclude the song with a particularly radical third one. I particularly like the first two, and the lyrics in said sequence give a nice field to come up with your own interpretations of them on. For whatever reason, I feel a connotation between the said segment, and between the overall message of the Pantera classic called "Fucking Hostile". These lyrics definitely demand further mentioning. There are pretty badass lines in this song. "It's like when your mind has a mind of its own." - wow. Did not have this feeling yet, but it must suck ancient mummy dicks and tits in ONE single suction action.

"Rise of the fall" once again summons a spaghetti western vibe, with a brief pre-sequence that smuggles a tint of Italo Disco, vaddafak?? - Faith No More goes "Apache" - DON'T ever click this link!! - on you for 4 full bars, then a Bertold Brechtian "Tiger Lillies" vibe is observable. At the culmination, this Tiger Lillies - Bully Boys, anyone? - fascination is supported by well defined metal guitars, but the carefully presented presence of hopelessness and stagnation chooses to demand its place as the focal point of interest, so even the upbeat segment is subjected to the relentlessly and irrevocably discontent emotion that is masterfully trapped within the main melodic motive. This song is offering a whole lot of space for your own fears and gripes to be displayed in it, too, so you can go and market them amidst the other myriad emotional monstrocities that the band chose to tastefully parodize here, with Patton's trademark insider-joke smile on silent/covert display - but this is just my suspicion. I'm not entirely sure if they are serious with this song, and this is why I like it. Ultimately, this track also is about the interactions of a community, but this is a group that facilitates only tepid forms of interactions, such is the level of self fixation between the participants. A group that chooses to submit to the dissociative automatisms and lamentations of the ego, - why be a group at all then? The members of the creative narrative medium, namely, Faith No More, have intentionally allowed themselves to feel sorry for themselves for a little while WHILE being together, just to see what comes out of such strategically governed creative behavior. Well: this. This song, I think, is a parody of introversion and depression. Depression is serious enough to make fun of, isn't it? Not a bad piece by any stretch of the imagination, but I personally think that it submits a little bit way too much for Patton's rampant desires to do something with cinema movie giant Ennio Morricone. I'm sure it would be an awesome collaboration, and, if Patton is not good enough to Mr. Morricone, then I don't know who else he could be satisfied with.

"Cone of Shame" collides the recurrent spaghetti western sensibilities with an utter dissatisfaction of the limitations of the human condition. The lyrics are staggeringly beautiful/frightening/precise and relentless in this one: "I'd like to peel your skin off, just to see what you really think, or if there is anything under that cone of shame" and subsequent logical trains of thoughts are given still, all related to the - in my interpretation - "jungian" Shadows - the part of your personality that you would like to hide in a "cone of shame" - which once again is indicative of Patton's secretive insecurities. Luckily, Mike Patton has grown to be way too significant of an artist indeed to give those lamentations too much credence and relevance BEYOND the music. And, since the realization of those thoughts are now contained in the music, and are fueling an excellent track, now all is dandy. The vocal compliments in the climax, when Patton goes "vooo-oo-oo-oo-oo" are vintage-, real deal Faith No More, with that imminent vibe of a lingering psychosis that is yet in the process of deciding if you worth the hassle of toying with at all. A tremendous sense of Nietzsche-ian loneliness and sorrowfulness is contained in that "vooo-oo-oo" of Patton, and the Faith No More Enterprise is happy that this site informs consensus of the actual significance of those voo-oos.

"Black Friday" introduces a pulsation that is super-reminiscent to that of the timeless Dire Straits classic, "Sultans of Swing", and a "Born to be wild" parallel could also be pointed out. On the surface, the track remains faithful to Patton's avid/current spaghetti western thing, but incorporates it into a hefty, badass pulsation of unexpected sex and death. What's not to love?! I'm totally sure Quentin Tarantino would choose the rhythm section of THIS music if told that he is about to be shot and be filmed - OH!, puns! - while at it, so he should choose a soundtrack to the scene posthaste. Mr. Tarantino, if you indeed die this way, then there is no place for reclamation!! (And sorry if I offended anyone. I have nothing against Tarantino, yet I think that with his credo, he should be able to handle a death joke no problem. Do you think Tarantino has imagined what it could be like to shot to death? In my opinion, it must be an obsession of him, but only secretly.) "Black Friday" has humor enough to stray far far away from the galaxies of cowboy-romanticism, instead, Faith No More collides the heated-, masterfully realized western vibe with hilarious social criticism. Also notice Patton's extremely low vocals in this track, it especially cool when he says "you will - BUY" - there is an interview in which Patton explains how it is an efficient technique to record very deep vocals right after you have woken up, as this is the best period of day to handle your vocal chords to meet the demands of this agenda with the most optimal outcomes on the horizon. The chorus of the song is like 3 seconds, and consists of Patton commanding you to: "Buy iiiiiiiit!" - it is true hilarity and provocation, truly, the exact type of witty and spot-on social commentary that I hoped to get from them, even though I had no suspicion nor presumption of the would-be format. This segment is one of the most pleasant surprises on the release, and reigns as an immediately memorable - as in: timeless, and not as in: "just" marketable - highlight. So use the link above and Buy iiiiiiiiiit! The vocals of Patton demand separate mentioning on this track: notice how deep he can go, and how authentically? You indeed have that "this is one badass spacecowboy dude who gives Nuck Chorris a run for his money!" vibe.

Alongside "Superhero", "Motherfucker" was yet another of the tracks that have served as audible stimulus aimed to amplify interest in the upcoming full length Faith No More effort. This song, to be honest, is only as good as Faith No More thought the music industry have deserved, and not a tad more. It essentially is a - this is not meant as an insult to one of my favorite bands ever - a joke song, and it is the Faith No More members themselves who grasp its true and ultimate significance, because it is them who had to undergo - I only assume these considerations - all that hardships with labels and whatnot, before eventually growing into a creative force relevant enough to be able to say that they want none of it anymore, and they will make their music on their own terms, without the unwanted and uninvited supervision of any given market interest. So it is a party song, in my opinion, I dare say: the wine song of Faith No More. (But not in a way as "Take this bottle" is a "wine song", - it is not even that, instead it is a timeless classic, in my opinion.) This track, "Motherfucker", while I love the title, I must say is the least muscular one on the record, except for the one-, brittle, brisk, and brief saving grace of a line which gets repeated on a constant basis: "get the motherfucker on the phone, on the phone", but the charm of this phrase quickly wears out for me, simply because it goes to places that I show no particular further interest in. I mean, the sung variant, with the more prolonged, bloated volumetrics to it, which is taking place in the background, doesn't do all that much to me. I appreciate the bass, and the main structure, but I feel that there is nothing relevant happening to it, it doesn't go anywhere, instead they consciously witness it as it slowly and sorrowfully withers away. As if it were punishment. Maybe it is intentional punishment indeed, a symbol of how the music industry prevents SOME great music from "being out there", but, truth be told, there is no longer such reality in effect, as everyone can upload anything they want, there will be a place for any kind of music. I mean, you have to create a truly deranged type of satanic latexcorpsefuckmetal to make YouTube even consider giving you a "No, Thank you." I was hopeful enough though that Faith No More would deliver an awesome song with this awesome title, so, in an attempt to seek to capitalize on the title itself, - considering the amount of searches that I have suspected were to happen for the term "Motherfucker" - I myself have made a song with the same title, yet I long have abandoned my previous habit of littering my music reviews with links to my tracks, so, if you are curious of my "Motherfucker" song, then you will need to look it up, it won't be as hard as it were twice as hard as it actually is.

"Matador" is definitely the magnificent high-point of the release if the spin is to be witnessed as a whole experience, but the song naturally demands a whoooole lot of listening to be fully appreciated, but suffice it to say that I can't reach 2:22 in it without having chills and goosebumps all over my body, further complimented by the exact same feeling of luscious complexity provocated in-, and demanded from the soul: a masterful composition with a lot of clear and well presented structural/melodic/and gravitational things going on in it, but the premiere field of operation which the song communicates itself so efficiently through, is the trademark capacity of the band to offer variations and counter-pointings to the surfacing themes in a way as to fill in this 6 minutes with such an amount of creative relevance and creative impertinence, that the resultant alloy makes you want to revisit the song on multiple successive occasions, since you have no idea what's just happened, but it totally fucked your mind. Faith No More effect. I have the feeling that this song equally is intent at observing the perceived constraints relevant to the human condition, but in an effort to spot and challenge its boundaries, particularly in the context of illusions/realities of how and where a human experience packet - or life - could "end" at. This Faith No More song challenges the notion of death, which always is admirable. (Then you die, and there is nothing wrong with that, as life goes on.) "Let the dead live, may the dead live, and the dead live, what more can we give?" The respective parts of the song are truly spectacular, and the restrained introduction is an essential part of the machinations that are bound to follow it. By the time that the build is rising in its unquestionable, imminent effort to Crush All - which it does - you instinctively know that this is no child's play, this finally is fucking Faith No More once again, Un. Dis. Puted.

Rating : 9.0 / 10

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1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with this one. Put it in my car's CD player when I downloaded it a month before it came out, and it hasn't left since (though I DID buy the digital version, to support the band). I was initially surprised how mellow it was compared to their past efforts, but it was a welcome change for me. Great stuff.


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