Title Of Record
Reprise Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/13/2000
Combining elements from grunge, industrial, and metal, Filter burst upon the musical landscape back in 1995 with their album Short Bus and hit single "Hey Man, Nice Shot." Whether or not you believe that singer/guitarist/songwriter Richard Patrick actually wrote the song about Kurt Cobain is up to each listener to decide. He has repeatedly stated that he didn't.
Regardless, that bit of publicity - along with the success of "Hey Man, Nice Shot" - helped the band gain new footing and new fans. In the middle of that, the band toured, lost and regained its drummer and released a follow-up album. What is the title of that record? Yeah, it's Title Of Record.
One thing that must be stressed out about this album is that it is Richard Patrick's baby. The former Nine Inch Nails-touring member tries to emulate the retentiveness that Trent Reznor brings to hiw work. In this case, Patrick writes or co-writes all of the songs as well as co-producing the album. All of the songs have his own stamp on them. From the opening instrumental "Sand" to the closing "Miss Blue," every track reveals the essence that Patrick was trying to imbue them with.
The easiest thing to notice, however, is that Patrick and Co. - guitarist Geno Lenardo, drummer Steven Gills and bassist Frank Cavanagh - wallow in pity and angst throughout the entire recording. None of these tracks are what you may call peppy or cheery. They are all very introspective and full of sorrow. Why do I bother mentioning this? Because I don't want anyone going out there thinking that this is the music you play while at the family picnic - or maybe you do at yours.
So, what about the songs? They range from very good to average. I must stress beforehand that none of the songs are bad, but I'll explain myself later on. On the good side, you have tracks like the driving "Welcome To The Fold," the melancholic (but sweet) "Miss Blue" and the somewhat pop-oriented "The Best Things." And, of course, the hit "Take A Picture." What should amaze you in all these songs is that, rather than deliver them in a tone similar to other industrial/metal singers, Patrick is actually trying to sing. His vocal delivery, though strained at times, is different from many other industrial acts, where they're trying to scream as loud as they possibly can and never pay attention to the beauty of subtlety.
However, that same somber and sad mood that permeates the good tracks tend to bring some of the other tracks down. Songs like "Captain Bligh," "It's Gonna Kill Me" and "Cancer" tend to be seriously brought down by their own subject matters. I mean, "It's Gonna Kill Me" is about the wrong kind of relationship. It should sound erotic and attractive and not depressing - something dark and sensual. Meanwhile "Cancer" - which talks about the abuse of the Earth by humans - should have sounded more otherwordly. Like I said, not bad songs, it's just that they tend to blend from one to another in their mood.
Nevertheless, the album still manages to cook some more good tunes like "Skinny" and "I Will Lead You." The sonic wall created by the band and the tough and harsh production values by Patrick, Ben Grosse, Rae DiLeo and Geno Lenardo does make the songs catchier and more enjoyable.
With the success of "Take A Picture," Filter seems poised to gain new legions of fans. While some of Title Of Record may scare fairweather fans, those that manage to see through are going to find that Filter is a band capable of more. Hopefully, we will see that in the future.