FILTER’S NEW ANTHEMS FOR THE DAMNED SOUNDS A WHOLE LOT LIKE FILTER
For Richard Patrick’s fourth effort under the Filter moniker, he’s hired an all-star cast of musicians to back him up. But really it doesn’t matter, because Patrick is Filter the way Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails, the band in which Patrick got his start. And the core of Patrick’s patented Filter sound is intact on Anthems For the Damned, a dark sense of melody culled from the industrial scene in which Patrick earned his stripes mixed with songs alternatingly heavy and pensive. Anthems for the Damned runs the (amal)gamut across the sonic spectrum that has come to define Filter, from rockers reminiscent of “Hey Man, Nice Shot” to slower numbers closer to “Take a Picture” and everything in between, capturing the essence of the Filter sound but failing to exceed expectations.
It’s been 5 years since the last Filter album The Amalgamut; in the meantime Patrick has had his hands full with staying sober and collaborating with Dean and Robert DeLeo of STP for the Army of Anyone project. Working with the expert song-crafter Deleo bros. may have rubbed off on Patrick just a bit — take the chorus of “The Wake,” for instance, one of the strongest songs on the album. Vintage Filter palm-muting and buzzsaw guitars in the verse and pre-chorus lead into a big, big chorus beneath Patrick’s soaring tenor.
This time around Patrick brought on John 5 to handle guitar duties (and co-write) and Josh “I’ve played with everyone, ever” Freese to hold down the drums. Josh Abraham’s (Slayer, Velvet Revolver, Staind, etc) slick production suits the record well — everything is big, crisp, thick and clear, just as it should be for that Filter sound.
Patrick proves age hasn’t robbed him of his desire to make churning, grooving, heavy industrial metal with “What’s Next” and “The Take,” the latter of which is a steamroller of a riff machine, distinctly Filter. The main guitar riff from “In Dreams” — which the biography that came with our advance copy tells us comes courtesy of ex-Limp Bizkit axeman Wes Borland — is surprisingly one of the best on the album with its angular, dissonant teeth. “Cold (Anthem For the Damned)” takes a page from the “Take a Picture” book, but by no means does it come off as a re-do; instead Patrick fills in the space behind the angelic acoustic guitar with a bubbling sequencer and drony, fuzzed-out guitars and rich vocal harmonies for the chorus. “Lie After Lie” follows in this vein.
Patrick’s voice is prominent in the mix throughout the album — and why shouldn’t it be? The man has one of the most hauntingly gorgeous voices in rock n’ roll, especially when he reaches into his upper register and starts to break ever so slightly. Lyrically, Patrick focuses on the inevitable destruction of our planet and our own roles in doing so as in “Only You”: “I started to think about becoming extinct by the way that we’re going / I shudder to think that we’re close to the brink if you don’t hurry.” The song seems to be a letter to his recently born daughter — the following track, titled “Can Stop This,” finishes the sentence. Patrick also fixates on the general fucked-upness of America; the title of the album speaks directly to that. Anthems for the Damned ends up being his most cohesive lyrical work to date.
While the aforementioned tracks are standouts, some end up feeling like standard Filter fare without changing the game at all — “Kill the Day” is strikingly similar to “Where Do We Go From Here.” while “I Keep Flowers Around” sounds like insert-name-of-mid-tempo-FIlter-song-here. And ultimately, even though there are some good songs on this record, there isn’t a whole lot here that does anything to further the Filter sound and take it to the next level. Anthems for the Damned is the new Filter record, and it ends up sounding like just that; another Filter record.
Anthems for the Damned hits stores May 13th.