MGF Reviews Filter – Anthems for the Damned

Filter – Anthems for the Damned
Pulse Recording (5/13/08)
Rock / Alternative / Metal

It’s been five years since The Amalgamut, and Richard Patrick, the force behind Filter, returns with Anthems for the Damned, where he showcases the two faces of the band—the abrasive, industrial-tinged goliath alongside the pop-minded, melodic juggernaut—in unison for an overall well-balanced sound.

Five years is a lengthy absence these days. So much so that, on first listen, “Soldiers of Misfortune” could be mistaken for Chevelle, a band with two notable releases in the same timeframe. But those trademark plodding bass lines and Patrick’s unholy wail put an end to any perceived charade.

Nothing on this album touches the intensity of “Hey Man Nice Shot” or the Crystal Method collaboration “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do”, but Anthems for the Damned certainly has its moments.

While the opening track (and first single) “Soldiers of Misfortune” is more modern rock than industrial dirge (almost taking a page out of U2’s playbook), Filter varies up the approach substantially from track to track.

“What’s Next” opens with fuzzy bass and explosive drumming before settling into a Ministry-inspired groove. But unlike earlier in its career, the band tempers the explosive assault with a more melodic chorus. They take a similar approach on “The Take”, albeit with a much more energetic chorus. And on “I Keep Flowers Around” the tempo is slower, but that’s only because the energy is focused to make a more sinister-sounding track. Patrick uses the deliberate approach on “In Dreams” too, but again, incorporates that melodic chorus of which he’s so fond.

I’d be remiss not to say that the bulk of the album is more based upon melody and reflection. With “Cold”, Filter channels the melody of “Take a Picture” relying on it while allowing Patrick’s soaring vocals to add the edge. “Lie After Lie” and “Kill the Day” are held together by haunting melodies and an acoustic guitar providing the foundation for the rest of the instruments. This is taken one step further on “Only You” which features only Patrick and the guitar (and a little bit of programming to fill out the sound).

So to reiterate, this is really the two sides of Filter merging to become one. The band has turned into a very different one from that which created Short Bus in 1995. But the heart of it all—Patrick’s soul and voice—has stayed true throughout. Working with musicians like Wes Borland, John 5 and Josh Freese only adds to the total package, but in the end Patrick remains the true star.

“I worked really hard on this album”, Patrick states in press material for the album. “If it’s the last record I ever do, I wanted to make it as big a musical statement as I can. It comes from the place good music can come from, an honest heart.”

The statement is clear. Filter is still a force to be reckoned with.