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Sunny side up for Faith No More
AKHIL SOOD  18th Jul 2015

Sol Invictus

Faith No More

Reclamation Records

Every project Mike Patton has been a part of has always seemed one step away from the edge of insanity. Weirdness, a trademark kind of weirdness, has defined his musical endeavours of the past 30 years. That sense of constant leaping motion – from celebratory choruses to modulated raps, muted whispers, operatic flourishes, screeches and squeals, seething rage; often all in the same song – so ingrained in his elaborate aesthetic makeup, very often steals the song. He excels at many things, but subtlety isn't often one of them. So collaborating with him, I assume, must be a right old nightmare – lots of selfless backtracking and imaginary deals of non-violence struck with a higher power, all for the sake of the greater good of the music (because you know he'll more likely than not do something infuriatingly brilliant).

Faith No More, possibly his most recognisable band and also definitive to nu- and modern metal, experimental rock, and alternative music, staged a triumphant comeback this year, releasing Sol Invictus 17 years after their last release, and, surprise surprise, it's not quite the Mike Patton show. Of course he takes centre stage, and of course he raps "Get the motherf**ker on the phone, the phone" in a sinister Gurgaon voice on the splendidly bonkers Motherf**ker, segueing into a tug-and-pull energy of Matador soon after. But the soul of this excellent comeback album lies in how the songwriting, the instrumentation the band provides, serves as the ideal springboard for Patton to execute his shenanigans (which he also tones down from time to time as per the demands of the song). It only took them 17 years but that's beside the point.

Giant metal sections give way to claustrophobic keyboard lines to gritty funk grooves and muted guitar-and-bass-driven bits – while the vocals seemingly exist on an altogether different plane – to create a genre-bending record at the heart of which lies musical exploration. Maybe it's the fact that it's sort of a comeback album and the band members have had time to gestate on suitable ideas and the spark probably remained, but it's always pleasing to hear a band steering clear of regurgitation.

 
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