It’s funny how the concept of memories work. Most people never know when they make a memory, whether it be something simple such as staring at a lake, going to a concert, walking down a new city street and even going to a friend’s birthday party. The concept and ideal memories however come through stimulants from these experiences and begin to shape people for the rest of their lives; sort of like a mental filing cabinet. Music has that same effect too, as it can rile up huge memories of the past. Music serves not only as a doorway to the souls of the past, but it can set plans for the future. Filter’s long awaited fourth album, Anthems For The Damned, does just that: it bridges the long, forgotten memories of the old while building a gateway to the future.
It’s been six years since Filter’s last album The Amalgamut, as well as frontman Richard Patrick’s side project, Army Of Anyone with the DiLeo brothers from Stone Temple Pilots. During this time, the frontman expressed his life’s memories and thoughts going into this record ranging from his stint in rehab to the Iraq War that’s scarred the world for the past seven years. The opening song “Soldiers Of Misfortune” contains many classic Filter elements: swirling landscapes of guitars, thick drumming tempo and Patrick’s crisp, cutting vocals. Patrick’s delivery sounds as if he’s on top of the biggest mountain in the world and shouting his message as loud and melodic as possible to anyone that happens to hear him. Patrick doesn’t miss a beat, and his vocals are excellent. The send-up of the song, which alludes to a former Filter fan sent to Iraq to pay for college, only to die from a bombing a mere few days later, certainly twists itself in Patrick’s heart. The song certainly will please old fans from the band’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot” days as well as garner new ones in the process.
The next two cuts, “What’s Next” and “The Wake” continue in the sound shaping way. Distorted bass opens “What’s Next” and bring to mind memories of the late 90’s. What made Filter great back in those days was due to the fact that hard rock and good metal still thrived in the world amidst the wall of garbage that nu metal and pop music eventually became; a dandelion in the cement cracks. Thick crunchy guitars and a rapid-fire delivery by Patrick combined with epic choruses and dare I say it, My Bloody Valentine styled harmonies. Yes, Filter is back, and does what it knows best: kick ass rock music that’s approachable and honest.
“The Wake” sounds even crunchier and as mentioned before, harmony is the biggest focus throughout the album. Filter prove that what is old becomes new again and that if your heart is truly in what you believe, then anything goes. Following collaborations from session drummer Josh Freese, former Limp Bizkit and Black Light Burns guitarist Wes Borland and Marilyn Manson sideman John 5, Patrick certainly has outdone himself musically. “Hatred Is Contagious” brings back distant memories of early high school and the pressures of growing up a teenager in a complicated spotlight. What’s great about this song that I haven’t already mentioned is that fiery images come to mind, especially during the chorus, where Patrick’s harmonies weave intricate musical textures as well as letting the listener revel in their own imagination. It’s as if Patrick has a canvas of sound for all the music world to paint their images on; I truly believe that is the defining moment of a great rock band.
The last few numbers, “I Keep Flowers Around,” “In Dreams,” “Only You” and “Can Stop This” end a great album of musical playing fields and knives of vocal force. Patrick certainly has outdone himself and created a great album that’s worthy of replays. The production is top notch, not a single note miscued and lyrically his best since 1995’s Short Bus. Industrial rock just might be the most thriving genre of music left on the planet that hasn’t been plagued with the “sellout” tag (look at Trent Reznor’s benevolence as of recent!) but regardless, Filter’s fourth album hits a grand slam right out of the park.
Filter – “Soldiers Of Misfortune”