The opening (and title) track of Sol Invictus begins with frontman, Mike Patton at his huskiest. The remainder of the band orbit around his droll delivery with a crescendo of pianos and marching drums before a somewhat anticlimactic and swift fade-out. Seconds later however, ‘Superhero’ marks the return proper of the band with shameless power chords, grand piano riffs, and a chorus that deserves to fill the biggest arenas in the world.
Eighteen years since their last record, Album of the Year and a full 34 years since the band took its first form, Faith No More remain an outlier. They were alternative before ‘alternative’ was a genre, played metal before metal was cool and shamelessly employed elements of rap and funk in their music with reckless abandon.
After reuniting in 2009, and touring the globe several times, the band eventually managed to convince themselves they had enough in the tank for one more record after all. And what a record it is. Modestly named after a Roman sun god, Sol Invictus accomplishes what so many pretenders in the interim couldn’t - it sounds exactly like a Faith No More record; urgent, powerful and laced with the acerbic sentiment of Patton’s never ending disdain for societal norms or pleasantries.
Tracks like ‘Sunny Side Up’, ‘Separation Anxiety’, ‘Matador’ and ‘Motherfucker’ all feel like they could have been lifted from recording sessions in the nineties. Patton’s vocals, which are spat through megaphones, guitars and keys, battle each other for prominence while drummer Mike Bordin is still working overtime to keep the chaos in check. At just under 40 minutes, Sol Invictus certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it’s a deserved moment in the sun for a group still at the top of their game.