The last Faith No More studio album came out 18 years ago. 18 years. Nearly two decades. Whole genres and governments have risen and fallen in that time. It’s a long while to sustain the adoration and intrigue surrounding these Californian blokes.
In their own uncompromising, don’t-give-a-fuck way, FNM have generated a hell of a lotta love. The kind of love that – during their album interim – has merited rapturously received shows and seven retrospective compilations. Many current fans won’t remember them from their heyday, but their collective mystique (drawing more from the likes of Killing Joke than the nu-metallers of their 90s West Coast homeland) has ensured their survival into the 21st century.
Sol Invictus is not a throwaway effort for nostalgia’s sake, or the topping up of bank accounts. It’s every bit as mighty, imaginative and fearless as you’d anticipate from a band with FNM’s bold history. Since forming in 1981 they’ve traversed hardcore punk, alt rock, progressive rock, funk and soul within a loosely termed ‘heavy metal’ framework. Without actually being all that ‘metal’ (not in a purist sense anyway), though their underlying brutality is unquestionable.
Even the title Sol Invictus (translation: ‘unconquered sun’) sounds like something uttered by a war-battered, mad-as-hell Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Be in no doubt, they clearly mean business. Accordingly, single Superhero makes a titanic statement of intent, all heavy grooving vitriol and Eastern-tinged intensity – not to mention a glorious “leader of mehhhnn” refrain that the Classic Rock office has only just stopped singing compulsively.
It’s not all gladiatorial might though: “Dance the night away, like Fred Astaire,” Patton sings in the darkly witty, pop-tinged Sunny Side Up. Next thing they’re crunching into rumbling, bass-laden menace for Separation Anxiety, followed by suave keys and subtle rumba quirks in Rise Of The Fall, and steely acoustic strumming in Black Friday.
Then there’s Motherfucker, which snarls like an enraged wolf poised to leap on something edible and tear it to pieces. Like the wolf on the single cover, fittingly enough. “Force-fed more than we eat in the wild, grazed on a mash that could suffocate a child, bloated, promoted”…all tantalising military beats and quietly furious rhetoric, short of actually demanding “GET THE MOTHERFUCKER ON THE PHONE”. Oh no wait, they do say that, repeatedly, and it sounds ace.
Already liked Faith No More? You’ll enjoy this, no questions – buy it, fall in love and be happy. New to the band? This is a great way in.