Alternative-leaning reunions of acts from the late twentieth century have become old hat by now, but that’s also led to the development of the right script for the reunion: first get the band back together (more or less, hopefully more), then tour the classic hits, then come out with a new record that fits in with the old. It’s easy for a reunion to stay too long in the old stuff (looking at you, Pixies), or just hit-it-and-quit-it (Pavement, The Postal Service), or come back with a record no one wanted (The Breeders, Stone Temple Pilots). Faith No More’s return has been done right: brought back their last line-up, Second Coming classics tour, and now Sol Invictus, an album that has the strengths you were looking for.
From the titular opener on, Sol Invictus is a slow burn for a band that did burn bright in their earlier days, but always had a steady flame. It’s also not just a heavy-and-angry record like so much of the darker hard rock, but Faith No More had always been more than a hard rock act, bordering metal and alternative in equal parts. Admittedly, second song & single “Superhero” does have an open very reminiscent of early FNM hit “The Real Thing”, but this is older & wiser – but not weaker – Faith No More. Mike Patton still has his caustic, somewhat ironic side to his vocals, and the chorus line to single “Motherfucker” is as memorable as anything he’s done.
Sol Invictus doesn’t have quite the variety that one might have hoped for from an act that delivered Commodores cover “Easy”, but that’s not what is needed in the first reunion record. What the album does deliver is actually what it should: Faith No More of the twentieth and twenty-first century.