Music review: Sol Invictus by Faith No More - together again, naturally
While many credit the demise of traditional heavy metal to the emergence of Nirvana and the Seattle grunge scene in the early 1990s, by then the leather-trousered headbangers had already been infiltrated by the perpetrators of "alternative rock".
While Jane's Addiction and Tool brought elements of post-punk, hardcore and art into the metal mix, it was Bay Area funksters Faith No More, with their vocal gymnast Mike Patton, that truly shook things up.
Following the platinum success of the 1989 MTV mainstay album The Real Thing, FNM returned in 1992 with their antagonistic foot-shooting masterpiece Angel Dust, shattering both their commercial rap rock image and the last of Hollywood's hair metal, with a twisted mixture of thrash, pop, funk and a whole lot of screaming. They called it quits in 1998, but in 2009 they reconnected to play live again. For the reunion to be permanent and not just a brief nostalgic journey, they decided new music was needed. Sol Invictus is Faith No More's first studio album in nearly 20 years and, astoundingly, it's as provocatively thrilling and perverse as their past highs.
The foreboding chords of the opening title track see Patton switch effortlessly from deep growl to crooning chorus before he's ripping his throat out on the industrial stab of Superhero. It never lets up throughout the concise 39 minutes, Billy Gould's bass and Mike Bordin's tub thumping driving it onwards, as tight as they ever were. Cone of Shame could have held its own on Angel Dust while Matador is simply Epic. It's a wondrous achievement that Faith No More can still sound so free, so fresh and so relevant after all this time apart.
Sol Invictus Faith No More (Ipecac Records)