reunion

All posts tagged reunion

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Refused

Album: Freedom

Release Date: 6/30/15

Rating: 6.5/10

The late 90’s were indeed a great time to be into Punk Rock. While acts on the Pop-Punk end of the spectrum (Blink-182, Reel Big Fish, Eve 6) where gaining mainstream attention and a shit ton of airplay, there was something even bigger about to burst from the underground. And it was Swedish Post-Hardcore outfit Refused and their seminal classic, The Shape of Punk to Come, that blew the doors wide open!

The Epitaph Records act had a major hit on their hands in 1998. Led by the success of the single “New Noise,” Refused were poised to be the next big thing and the band to possibly take down Nu Metal before it had the chance to break onto the bastardized Alternative scene of the late 90’s. Unfortunately, it all imploded from there.

Refused called it quits just about a year after the release of The Shape of Punk to Come, leaving a massive void on the emerging Post-Hardcore scene. Although bands like At The Drive-In, Glassjaw, Zao and The Dillinger Escape Plan saw success at the turn of the decade, it wasn’t until the scene’s bastard cousin, “Screamo,” broke through to the masses that a sound pioneered by the band could really be recognized by a mainstream audience, albeit a very watered-down version of it.

However, the impossible happened in 2012, and the all-but-dead Refused returned from out of no where for a triumphant reunion. And after a few years of “will they, won’t they,” in 2015 Refused announced a full-scale second run along with a new album.

On June 30, Refused released Freedom, their first album in 17 years. The hype surrounding the release has been quite circumstantial, given that the band released on of the most influential pieces of music in the last 20 years.

With this being no easy feat, Freedom doesn’t exactly live up to all the expectations. Most lacking on Freedom is the sense of experimentation the band had come to be known for. Any experimentation that is present, feels forced.

Kicking off the album is the semi-lackluster, “Elektra,” leading into the awkward chant-along rocker, “Old Friends/New War.” Following this, the album slowly kicks into gear, with the scorching lead single, “Dawkins Christ;” an almost Faith No More-esque heavy rocker that captures, or recaptures, the band in the artsy-angst that made them legends.

Refused, circa 2015. Photo courtesy of pitchfork.com.

Refused, circa 2015. Photo courtesy of pitchfork.com.

From here, “Francafrique” and “War On the Palaces” come up somewhat flat, sounding as the band is trying to find some balance between a good poppy hook and a blast of Hardcore rage. Luckily, the final four tracks of Freedom really offer up something special.

“Destroy the Man” is a true rocker, boasting the trademark energy fans have come to expect from Refused. And although the following tracks, “366” and “Servants of Death” take on a more electronic-ish danceable role, they boast just as much Punk Rock as they do anything else, proving the band still have some new tricks up their sleeve. Finally, the album concludes with “Useless Europeans.” As the tension builds throughout ” Useless Europeans,” Freedom climbs to a satisfying climax.

All in all, Freedom is not exactly the follow-up to The Shape of Punk to Come. Refused take a step back at moments, several steps actually, allowing melody and hooks have more room than the blast of energy one may expect. However, nearly two decades have passed between the two records, and the band have undeniably grown as songwriters. With so many years missing in between, there’s no telling what baby steps where missed from Shape of Punk to Freedom.

Nonetheless, the record has some very solid tracks. Highlights include “Dawkins Christ,” “Servants of Death” and “Useless Europeans.” Conversely, “366” and “Francafrique” offer terribly catchy hooks that may just have you revisiting them, whether they strike you initially or not.

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.