To celebrate the release of Faith No More’s new album Sol Invictus this week, we’re running a special set of celebratory articles. In this series, we look at each of the Patton-era albums, concluding with 1997 ‘s Album Of The Year!
03. Last Cup of Sorrow
04. Naked in Front of the Computer
06. Mouth to Mouth
07. Ashes to Ashes
08. She Loves Me Not
09. Got That Feeling
10. Paths of Glory
11. Home Sick Home
There’s something faintly miraculous about the very existence of a fourth Patton-era Faith No More album. The band’s internal conflicts were well documented, and most clearly evidenced by yet another change of guitarist, which brought Jon Hudson into the fold following the short-lived tenures of both Trey Spruance and Dean Menta.
But it also appeared that, between King For A Day…Fool For A Lifetime and Album of the Year, Faith No More had done some growing up. They had started taking to the stage fully suited and booted, and the new tracks came with smoother edges than its jagged predecessor. Overall, it was the calmest and slickest album the band had released.
Of course, the band hadn’t lost their sense of mischief entirely, neatly showcased by the album’s brazen-to-the-point-of-hubris title, and the track “Naked in Front of the Computer“; an ode to internet porn and a theme to which Patton would return in other projects. Elsewhere, songs like “Last Cup of Sorrow” saw them at their anthemic best, and “Got That Feeling” showed that they still had some bite, even if they weren’t quite as feral as they had been in the past.
Perhaps the album’s high point is second track “Stripsearch“, a gorgeous and atmospheric song which somehow manages to be heavy and delicate at the same time. Driven by a thick keyboard line and a surprisingly effective minimalist guitar hook, it is potentially Faith No More at their most classy.
So, for all the reports of strife, there were encouraging indications that the band might be able to work through their issues. Perhaps for that reason, alongside the budgetary concerns that affect many young adults, I decided to pass on the opportunity to see them on the tour supporting Album of the Year, thinking I would see them next time. This, it soon transpired, was a mistake of a most profound magnitude. Whilst it’s true I would take the very next opportunity to see them, that opportunity didn’t roll around for another eleven years. So the valuable lesson there is to take every chance you possibly can to see your favourite bands, as you never really know which chance will be your last.
If there was any sort of hint that the end would soon be night for the band, then it resides towards the end of the album. Both “Paths of Glory” and “Home Sick Home” feel lacklustre and forgettable. It was as though the energy was starting to leak out from the band, despite the album’s strong start. This ultimately meant that Faith No More seemed to end more with a whimper than a bang, which is a massive pity considering Album of the Year still contains some of the band’s most assured songwriting.
As I said in the Sol Invictus review at the start of the week, perhaps the most surprising thing about the new disc is how neatly it follows on from Album of the Year, despite the eighteen year gap between the two. With this in mind, anyone coming fresh to the Faith No More party with Sol Invictus wanting to explore their back catalogue should probably start here.