Mike Patton

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By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

Faith_No_More_-_Sol_Invictus_Album_Cover

Artist: Faith No More

Album: Sol Invictus

Release Date: 5/19/15

Rating: 9.5/10

Back in early 2000, at the age of 14, I remember being in an Internet chat room (remember those?) for Mike Patton’s record label Ipecac.

The versatile singers company was still in its infancy as was his new band Fantômas.

Still in love with both Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, I asked a question that I doubted would be picked amongst the thousands of questions being submitted.

To my surprise, however, it was.

The question: Will Mr. Patton ever reunite with Faith No more to make another great record?

The answer: Hell no, never!

At least that’s what the moderator, via Patton, said to me and the other faithful fans, much to my chagrin.

Never say never.

Back “From the Dead” 15 years after that moment, Faith No More has released it’s seventh studio album, Sol Invictus.

What can you expect from a band that hasn’t put a record out in 18 years?

When it’s Faith No More, an album that stands shoulder to shoulder with anything they put out in the past.

This effort ranks somewhere above Album of the Year and the two pre-Patton records. And somewhere between King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime and The Real Thing.

Faith No More circa 2015. Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com.

Faith No More circa 2015. Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com.

The record starts out with the title track and kind of eases you into the album, with its soft piano and Patton’s unique vocals.

When “Superhero” kicks in, it’s like a swift kick to the gut as Patton and keyboardist Roddy Bottum alternate screams in a track that meshes new and old together perfectly. A track that could have easily have been on 1992’s Angel Dust.

Up next is “Sunny Side Up” one of those songs that kind of sneaks up on you and can quickly become your favorite, with its contagious chorus.

“Separation Anxiety” is an ode to classic faith no more, with Billy Gould’s heavy bass and Mike Bordin’s signature drumming patterns. It’s very reminiscent to their heavy, funky grooves off of The Real Thing.

The songs heavy finish is enough to keep any long time fan happy.

Other highlights of this album include, “Cone of Shame’ and the album finishes off fantasticly with it’s final three songs.

“Motherfucker,” “Matador” and “From the Dead” are the perfect ending to a near perfect album.

The lead single, “Motherfucker” was a bit of a surprise, since it features Bottum’s vocals on lead.

But after a few listens, it was well deserved, as his quiet vocals (which he nearly raps) are the perfect leeway for Patton’s strong voice.

“Matador” is a song that has been around for a while, since the first time Faith No more got back together in 2009, and it sounds even better on the record.

Patton’s vocal chops are on full display in this one, hitting unconceivable notes and proving why he is one of the best singers of our time.

The band proves that they are still weird and willing to try new things on the closing track “From the Dead.”

It doesn’t sound like anything they have ever done, an ode to the 60s hippie revolution.

“Homecoming parade/welcome home my friend,” Patton croons on the opening line all while shaking a tambourine.

“We come back to history in present times/Watch your watch unwind/We’ve been turning miseries to nursery rhymes,” Patton sings, almost ironically, at the end of the song.

Indeed Faith No More is back from their long slumber, taking us back to a time when music was good and with Sol Invictus, it’s as if they never left.

I have listened to this album over and over, trying to find fault with one of my favorite bands, but I can only find one; that there are only 10 songs.

Melvins. Left to right, singer/guitarist Buzz "King Buzzo" Osbourne, bassist Dale Crover and drummer Mike Dillard.

Melvins. Left to right, singer/guitarist Buzz “King Buzzo” Osbourne, bassist Dale Crover and drummer Mike Dillard.

By Rick Pollo (Editor-in-Chief)

In the early 1980s, not many could have predicted that Seattle would be Generation X’s Liverpool in terms of a rock and roll renaissance. Sure, groups like the late-60s garage rockers The Sonics and 70s arena champions Heart call the city home, but a collective scene was yet to put Seattle on the rock and roll map.

By 1984, hardcore punk outfit Black Flag released there slowed down, Black Sabbath-inspired album, My War. The same year, bands like Swans and Flipper began to emerge, also introducing a slower and chunkier approach to aggressive angst-ridden punk rock. This sound was clearly ahead of its time, but left a considerable impression on the likes of Seattle outfits Green River, Soundgarden and the Melvins.

Originally formed as a hardcore punk band, the Melvins quickly emerged as one of Seattle’s most influential and ambitious acts by the mid 80s. Their unique blend of punk rock ethos, sludging heavy riffs and experimental tendencies helped spark a musical movement that would come to be known as “grunge.” Lead singer and guitarist Buzz Osbourne once stated that the band’s sound was “Black Sabbath-meets-Captain Beefheart.” Undoubtedly a perfect summation of Seattle’s perhaps most unsung and influential grunge act.

By the late 80s, the Melvins’ influence among the Seattle scene was blatantly obvious. Groups like Tad, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone and Nirvana all were experimenting with drop tuning and searching for the heaviest and muddiest guitar tones they could find. For a moment, Seattle provided a renaissance in rock and roll, and the paradigm shifted. Over produced balladry was out, and noisy, angry punk and alternative was in. With the success of Nirvana’s Nevermind and several of the Seattle bands finding major label deals and mainstream success, the Melvins were at an epicenter of a movement. However, there break wasn’t easy.

As Seattle bands were getting signed left and right, the Melvins further pursued their musical ambition, shifting deeper into left field and away from what grunge had came to be known as, in the mainstream at least. They went heavier and sludgier, proving to have more in common with doom metal than Lollapalooza. Still, predecessors like Kurt Cobain continued to site their influence and eventually, the mainstream took notice. By 1993, at the height of the grunge scene, the Melvins signed their first major label record deal with Atlantic Records, and recorded their masterpiece, Houdini.

Houdini was unique in several ways. Much to the band’s dismay, it will probably always serve as the go-to starting point for the band. Sure, earlier albums like Bullhead and Lysol are classics in their own right. But Houdini is the first creative peak in an ever-climbing career of innovation.

Originally set to be produced by Kurt Cobain, Houdini is one of the most primal and raw, sophisticated and heavy and underrated alternative releases of the 90’s. Kicking off with droning doom riff of “Hooch,” it is immediately evident that the Melvins were not going for the sounds of Nevermind or Ten, but something more along the lines of the first records from Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath. Signature sludge tracks like “Night Goat,” “Lizzy” and “Honey Bucket” serve as templates for nearly every doom, sludge and stoner rock act that followed, making even Kyuss sound like The Spin Doctors.

Houdini also has it’s share of quark. An unlikely cover of Kiss’ “Goin’ Blind” sounds nothing like the original, yet ultimately caught the eye of Gene Simmons, who often performed the track with the band during the time of its release. Tracks like “Sky Pup,” “Hag Me” and “Copache” are well representations of the band’s experimental side, an aspect of their sound they would also later explore and expand upon.

Commercially, the Melvins were never quite able to top the success of Houdini. Artistically, it was only a launching pad.

As fellow Seattle acts spend the later half of the 90’s and early 00’s dominating rock radio, the Melvins dug deeper into the underground, earning a very loyal following. Despite their lack of commercial exposure, critically acclaimed records like Stoner Witch and Honky resonating hard with their dedicated fan base.

By the late-90’s they were dropped from Atlantic Records but eventually signed to Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings. From there, a golden age of experimentation ensued. In 2003, they collaborated with ambient artist Lustmord for the Pigs of the Roman Empire LP and in 2004-05, they collaborated with Dead Kenndys frontman Jello Biafra and Tool guitarist Adam Jones for the LPs Never Breathe What You Can’t See and Seig Howdy! After a successful period of collaboration, they returned to their roots for the sludgy and trippy Senile Animal in 2007.

This year, the Melvins celebrate two milestones: The 20th anniversary of their landmark Houdini and 30th anniversary together. They chose to celebrate in true Melvins fashion by releasing two artistic achievements within the same year. Earlier this year, they dropped a collection of covers titled Everybody Loves Sausages featuring reworkings of tracks by artists as diverse as Queen, Venom, Throbbing Gristle, The Kinks, David Bowie and Lead Belly. Their latest jaw-dropper, Tres Cabrones, was released in October.

As the Melvins enter their fourth decade, they show no signs of slowing their innovative sound. That innovation has proven very influential, with sound that is impossible to properly categorize. Not only has Kurt Cobain and members of Tool announced their love for the trio, but contemporary players like Mastodon, Crowbar, EYEHATEGOD and The Dillienger Escape Plan have all sworn by the Melvins.

As trends came and went, artists risen and fallen, they continue forward, in a linear but upward direction, blowing minds and provoking thoughts at every peak.