Pseudo-industrial outfit Filter rocked some major charts during a late ’90s run, delivering the radio staples “Welcome To The Fold” and The Cable Guy standard/suicide commentary “Hey Man, Nice Shot”, all while remaining relatively true to his roots through each release (even 2002’s more streamlined Almagamut). Anthems For The Damned surfaced a couple of years back in its own trite fashion, side project Army Of Anyone (think Ashes Divide, only with Ray Luzier in the starstruck womb sans Howerdel) sadly floundered before it could swim a mile. Here and now, we’re suddenly witnessing tour stops, fan service, a “best of” release, and Filter trying inconspicuously to clone its Amalgamut phase in 2010.
Admittedly, The Trouble With Angels is not terrible, and there are plenty of good things to acknowledge: the urgency of “Absentee Father” and “The Inevitable Relapse”, the epic expanses of “Clouds” and “Re-Entry”, the pulse of “Drug Boy”. Unfortunately, the latter half of this daunting re-manufacturing of ’02 sound becomes so easily wrapped up in the previous 5 or so songs, Filter feels as if the focus was shifted from immediacy to modern rock on a rehabilitation fix.
For an example, “Catch A Falling Knife” is likely one of the better lyrical compositions on Angels, with a bold proclamation about how one would “catch a falling life that’s better off dead,” and a sound that recounts both Title Of Record, and Angels opener “The Inevitable Relapse”. Meanwhile, the ostensibly-labeled Amalgamut 2 could be chalked up as a lackluster sequel, a la Rob Zombie’s recent efforts. Foregoing previously mentioned good qualities that save this record from two stars, we delve into the limp and lifeless droning of “No Love”, and the soulless shell of rhetoric that is the titular song…
“The Trouble With Angels”? Many rock bands on the radio aim for a “cool song” that sounds both philosophically enlightening and catchy as fuck. I do not know if “The Trouble With Angels” is supposed to be a future single, but its lyrics lack so much conviction and poetic license, I am compelled to ask Patrick for a refund on a download. Its premise is straightforward: God is a lie, but drugs are bad, m’kay? Does it speak to addicts or openly mock them, I can’t even tell; the word choices are quasi-intelligence dressed up in industrial waste and pretension, similar to a mall goth trying to do Marilyn Manson karaoke and calling it a sermon for high minds
Our aforementioned sore thumb is the equivalent of a teenager reconstructing George Carlin’s “Invisible Man” skit for a senior thesis, while he sucks his thumb at the podium; Nine Inch Nails’ “Heresy” was more convincing, and it had much better musical accompaniment.
If Anthems Of The Damned was supposed to pay tribute to the military in a sort of “bring the boys back home” trumpeter fashion, then by all means I can at least respect that, as vague as it appeared. This album would be better suited had Patrick made a half-decent workload of his lyrical forefront, given the emphasis he props up. If The Trouble With Angels has compiled songs about facing or questioning faith, relapses, and other common sources of coping rock star inspiration, can you even attempt to sound sincere? Balls to the wall, or dissociative filler, you cannot hybridize and hope for the best, specifically on any of the above crucial topics.
The Trouble With Angels does its job for about 20 minutes, then somehow drops the ball at wince-inducing closers, but to be fair — Breaking Benjamin was much worse, and that act is essentially (in part) inspired by Patrick’s repertoire. Goes to show what Xerox copies can get away with, doesn’t it?