Sol Invictus – Faith No More’s long-awaited follow-up to Album of the Year – is unlikely to appear in many Album of the Year lists for 2015.
It’s December and the end-of-year lists (and start of 2016 future-focused lists) are beginning to be published. Despite its obvious merits and generally favourable reviews, Sol Invictus looks unlikely to appear in many album compendiums. A lot of the big players – Rolling Stone, Spin, Q – have already published their lists and Faith No More does not appear on any of them.
As the type of muso nerd that compiles his own end of year list and is thus an avid excavator of such lists, this does not surprise me. such lists are dominated by a) buzz bands b) indie bands c) label-pushed artists d) tortured singer-songwriters, while metal and hard rock bands rarely figure outside metal and hard rock publications.
But Faith No More has appeared in two more niche lists. Sol Invictus is album of the year for Metal Sucks writer Leyla Ford. She writes:
There’s been more than enough said about this album and the band over the year. In fact, some may say they are overrated and boring. They’d be wrong because only published opinions are real. So here goes; this is the best album of the year. It ranges from mellow to psychotic to philosophical to beautiful to stupid, which pretty much sums up Faith No More’s career as well. The hook from “Motherfucker” gets stuck in your head and wins you over despite your initial reluctance to like it. The ghoul-chant of “Separation Anxiety” is pure atmospheric witchiness that crawls under your skin and makes you sway in public. The lush chorus of “Superhero,” interrupted by its rabid verses, is just gasping exhilaration. Every song is foreplay followed by a punch to the gut and yeah, they make you like it rough. Also, I will gladly be the gimp on any future shows. Just so you know, boys.
The album also appears on Axl Rosenberg‘s list in the same publication at number 10. He says:
The most disappointing of the 872,936,455 reunion albums to be released in the last five or so years is still better than anything ever made by the 941,322,618 bands who have ripped off Faith No More in the past twenty years. As a bonus, it also features the best song about breakfast ever written, the best song about dunce caps ever written, and the best song about incest ever written. Five stars.
FNM did not make it into Glide’s list but did score a honorable mention.
Writer Matt Pucci has also included Sol Invictus on his list and writes:
Faith No More’s last record—excluding all the cash-in compilations released by their former label—was actually titled Album of the Year. Cheeky, but ultimately untrue. Eighteen years later and they might just have a case. With most of the band now into their fifties, and with very little still to prove (vocalist Mike Patton, in particular, having done more for music in the last twenty years than most mainstream artists would manage in twenty lifetimes) the original odd squad from San Francisco was finally able to create an album entirely on their own terms. The result is a collection of songs that’s concise, quirky, and altogether astonishing for how relevant it sounds. Although bassist Billy Gould was, as always, the driving force behind this endeavour, each player’s presence is most definitely felt on Sol Invictus. Okay, so there’ll be a bunch of people still whining about the fact that Jim Martin isn’t back in the band, but for me Jon Hudson’s less histrionic style suits the group’s current incarnation perfectly. I love the more restrained passages on tension-fuelled tracks such as ‘Separation Anxiety’, which somehow sits comfortably next to the completely contrasting ‘Sunny Side Up’ and ‘Black Friday’—the latter a jaunty number that seethes with the band’s trademark cynicism. Patton’s chameleonic performance, meanwhile, is so good it makes me want to puke. (Which, I suppose, is apt, given that Patton’s own record label, Ipecac, is named after a cough syrup used to induce vomiting.) “I’m only happy when I’m pissin’ you off!” he shrieks on the album’s crowning moment, ‘Cone of Shame’. Me too, Mikey. Me too.
And two writers from Bucketlist include Sol Invictus in their top 5s.