Have a listen to: "Seperation Anxiety" and "Cone Of Shame"
Faith No More – Sol Invictus
Originally formed as Sharp Young Men by bassist Billy Gould, drummer Mike Bordin, vocalist Mike Morris and keyboard player Wade Worthington, Faith No More established themselves as piss takers very early on. The name Sharp Young Men was a rip on the elegant’ late 80’s bands of that time. Morris suggested a name change to Faith In No Man, but eventually the band settled on the suggestion from Bordin to stylise the name to Faith No Man.
The band pooled their money together, and without help from a record label the band recorded a double A-side single, ‘Quiet In Heaven‘ / ‘Song of Liberty‘, still recording under the moniker of Sharp Young Men. Worthington left not long after the name change, and Roddy Bottum was hired to replace him. This lineup was short-lived, with Bottum, Gould and Bording quitting and going on to form Faith No More, a name chosen to accentuate that “The Man” in the name is “No More” – argo – Faith No More.
After the name change the band went on to release ‘We Care A Lot‘, initially recorded without any help from a record label, managing to record 5 tracks on their own and getting the attention of Ruth Schwartz – who was then forming an indie label called Mordam Records – this completed their need for financial support and the band finished and released the album in 1985.
2 years later, the band released ‘Introduce Yourself‘ in 1987. Mosley’s erratic behaviour in shows and practice sessions was becoming more and more evident, ultimately leading to his firing from the band in 1988 and most notable was the release party for their new record, where Mosley fell asleep on stage!
After guitarist Jim Martin heard some demo tapes from singer Mike Patton’s band Mr. Bungle he suggested Patton for the job as lead vocalist for FNM. The band agreed, and within 2 weeks of joining the band, Patton had written all the lyrics that would make up their Grammy award-nominated ‘The Real Thing‘. With their top 10 success in the single ‘Epic‘ in 1989, the band received extended air-play for their video, which later sparked rivalry with Red Hot Chilli Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis, who accused Patton of being too similar in style and appearance to the RHCP. This rivalry bled over to Mr. Bungle, where the band would perform Red Hot Chilli Pepper songs live, dressed as the band, mimicking and mocking them and their well known drug abuse problems.
After more success with Faith No More in the album ‘Angel Dust‘, though not quite as successful as ‘The Real Thing‘ – ‘Angel Dust‘ received great critical acclaim, releasing 3 singles with music videos, ‘A Small Victory‘, ‘Midlife Crisis‘ and ‘Everything’s Ruined‘. After touring in the summer of ’93, guitarist Jim Martin left the band due to internal conflicts.
The band released two more albums, ‘King For a Day… Fool For a Lifetime‘ in 1995 and ‘Album of the Year‘ in 1998. The band inevitably broke up, playing their last show on April 7th 1998, cancelling their support slot with Aerosmith on tour.
Skip to November 2008, an 18 year old me is looking at rumours for the line up of Download Festival 2009. Rumours of Faith No More reuniting were becoming more and more frequent, but bass player Billy Gould was dismissing these rumours – ultimately they turned out to be true! The band performed together for the first time in over 10 years, performing a headlining slot at Download and then went on to perform at other European festivals. The band then took an 11 month hiatus and returned to play four shows in South America in 2011, playing a “mystery song” which led to more rumours of new material from the band. After playing Hyde Park in July 2014, the band played two new tunes for the crowd ‘Motherfucker‘ and ‘Superhero‘. The songs were incredibly well received and the band posted on August 20th that “The reunion thing is over, it’s time to get creative”. In February 2015 the band announced the record’s title ‘Sol Invictus‘ (Unconquered Sun, the sun god of the Roman empire) and the release date of May 2015.
Here we are, May 2015. I’ve been waiting patiently for 6 years since they announced their reunion so the Monday release date was a surreal day. You wait all this time, and after approximately 40 minutes, all of the anticipation is over. The fun comes from digesting the album and all it has to offer; to hear old comrades call to arms once again. Pattons eclectic influences from performing 50’s/60’s Italian pop music in his side project Mondo Cane doesn’t derail him from Faith No More mode.
The album opens with it’s title track ‘Sol Invictus‘, starting with a piano and a marching snare drum beat. Patton opens the album up with a low, hushed singing style, until the song picks up for the chorus with the vocals going a little higher. The song rides like a wave, going from the hushed tones to the highs, ultimately ending in the same piano melody as the intro.
We then go into ‘Superhero‘- a track I recently reviewed along with ‘Motherfucker‘. To keep it short and sweet, this song has everything you want in a Faith No More single – catchy lyrics and vocals, crushing guitar riffs and that loud, bouncing bass you expect from Gould. The lyrics mirror our obsession with Superhero culture and the sweet memories that came from these stories as a child (just my interpretation).
The album gets a little more daring with track 3, ‘Sunny Side Up‘. Opening with pianos, drums and bass, Patton sings with style over the top “I’ll be your leprachaun, champagne or a lucky charm”. The verse repeats for a short amount of time until the chorus kicks in with what sounds like a group vocal performance singing “Sunny Side Up”. The guitar plays the same melody over the top, the chorus gathers aggression and we hear Patton’s signature shouting vocals. The second verse features a slightly more Mr. Bungle funk-esque guitar.
The next track is competing for the catchiest and most addictive song on the album, ‘Seperation Anxiety‘ has one of those overlapping, repeating guitar riffs that you feel you could listen to forever, with Gould locked in tight, repeating the riff and giving it more substance. Patton hums his lyrics over the top – he’s so contagious in this song, I swear to god Patton could narrate my own demise and I would still die happy. The song gathers dust until we get some BIG Alex Lifeson (Rush) style open chords ringing loud until we get another passage at the verse. The song ultimately opens up to huge splashy drums and Patton repeating ‘Seperate the Anxiety’ until the song ends somewhat abruptly.
Then we have the other main competitor for best track on the album, ‘Cone of Shame‘ starts off somewhat uneventful, with the guitar playing a few notes. The drums join in along with Patton after about 35 seconds. The pacing in this song may be what makes it so catchy as, for the first 2:10 of the song you feel like you’re going for a mellow ride until the snare cracks and the toms roll, queueing the guitars and vocals to explode into fury for the duration of the song; heavy ham-fisted power chords locked in tight with Patton’s performance. This song feels like it could have been written alongside ‘The Real Thing‘ way back when.
‘Rise of the Fall‘ showcases more of the experimental nature in this album, still maintaining it’s worthiness of the first half of the record and every other song. Although the verses’ carnival style instruments may sound strange to an unfamiliar ear, the band does a good job at not alienating me or pulling me out of the atmosphere they created.
‘Black Friday‘ is another pleasant and welcomed surprise, with acoustic guitars and a great driving dance beat pushing it forward – this song will get a lot of play at barbecues and the like this summer, i’m sure!
‘Motherfucker‘ is another single I reviewed a short time ago. I see why it was released early, because it feels overshadowed by the other tracks on the album. The ominous nature of the song and lyrics make this song constantly interesting, but it’s not the highest point of the record.
‘Matador‘ is a slow burner that builds up to possibly one of the best vocal performances on the record when Patton starts singing “We will rise from the killing floor, like a Matador”.
The album ends on a high with ‘From The Dead‘. All the instruments are stripped back to a softer pace and the track ends triumphantly and beautifully.
All in all, with the long wait between records, lineup changes, personal conflicts and challenging personalities in the band, Faith No More came out on top here. Every song was treated with care and there is enough diversity in the album to keep things constantly interesting, but not too diverse that they don’t lose their core sound and feel. This is a band successfully channeling their young 22 year old versions of themselves, but with more maturity and sophistication.