“Everyone has an algorithm. An algorithm is a problem that needs to be solved.” — Richard Patrick
It’s been seven long years since the last studio album by platinum-selling Post-grunge, Industrial / Alt Rock pioneers, Filter.
A lot has happened in those seven years and my first thought is, how relevant can a band from the nineties that has been on hiatus for seven years, be at this point in time. My second thought is, perhaps they just need the cash, like we all do. It's jaded of me to think this way, and I'll be the first to admit that I was happily surprised and delighted by this album. It feels and sounds relevant and is obviously written by an artist who loves being creative for a living. As the saying goes, ‘do what you love and love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life’. Richard Patrick surely has taken this concept and run with it.
Filter is primarily the project of American singer, songwriter, musician, producer, Richard Patrick. Formed in 1993 in Cleveland, Ohio, with guitarist / programmer Brian Liesegang after Patrick decided to leave his role as touring guitarist for Nine Inch Nails. Their debut and sophomore albums both achieved platinum status. Current touring members include Jonathan Radtke, Bobby Miller and Elias Mallin.
The Algorithm is the eighth studio album for Filter.
Patrick stated recently in an interview that The Algorithm is essentially a concept album. The premise being, that an astronaut comes back to earth to find it is almost completely destroyed, there are only a few people left living on the planet. The Algorithm is the story of the astronaut trying to find out why this has happened. Song themes include addiction, war, misinformation and climate change.
The Algorithm starts with a moody yet chaotic track titled The Drowning, with rumbling bass and metallic guitars it is a heavy introduction to the album and is a part of a triptych that plays alongside Up Against The Wall and first single from 2022, For The Beaten, whose heavy riff is almost jarring but is saved by an anthemic style melody and swelling chorus. This trio of songs carries all the angst that fans of singer/songwriter Richard Patrick and Filter, love and have come to expect. The angst meter is dialed up to 11 and I’m feeling the apocalyptic gloominess engulf me.
Next up is Obliteration, a song about alcoholism. Patrick is quite open about how he realised that he needed to deal with his own alcohol addiction, saying it was his “algorithm” to solve. Celebrating 20 years of sobriety next month, Patrick sees this as his greatest achievement. In Obliteration, he expresses the chaos of addiction with heavy riffs, power chords and a soaring chorus. It’s only three and a half minutes long but I'm feeling emotionally exhausted.
Facedown starts with an electronica style groove and showcases Patrick’s falsetto. The chorus hits with chugging, crunchy guitars. There’s a lightness that juxtaposes the message of misinformation. Patrick says he wrote this “after being inundated with lies, deception and pure vitriol every day”
The next track is Threshing Floor. It has that industrial rock sound that is synonymous with artists like Marilyn Manson, in fact, I can easily imagine MM performing this track.
Be Careful What You Wish For is where I can clearly hear the Nine Inch Nails / Trent Reznor influence the strongest. There’s a groove to this track that makes me want to dance. As I’m shaking my tush, the repetitive mantra “be careful what you wish for” feels almost hypnotic by the end of the song.
Burn Out The Sun is a soft melodic guitar-driven track that meanders along gently, giving the listener a reprieve from the heavy moodiness of the previous tracks. Did we just time travel to the 1970s? Maybe, but we quickly return and the album is rounded off with the acoustic sounding, but lyrically bold, Command Z. It’s raw and in your face, but I feel more heard in these lyrics than I have in a very long time.
“Sometimes the shit just piles up, I wash my hands and then what, Played by the rules and got fucked, Cross my heart swear to god but something died”….. “I gotta find my life on backup, Command Z undo my fuckups, Outside world is theirs and blown up, Fade to black, Open wide, movie screen live love and die”.
This poetry is real life and I daresay we’ve all felt that way at some point over these past few years.
Richard Patrick has spent three decades pushing musical and lyrical boundaries. A pioneer who has been applauded and awarded for giving a generation a soundtrack to their lives. At 55 he is still relevant and has plenty of relatable stories to share with us. As a peer, I was vaguely aware of Filter, back in the day, but to be honest, I was more a NIN / Reznor fan during Filter’s heyday but this album has me delving through the Filter back catalogue and wishing I had caught the train at the time. Better late than never, I guess.
As a whole, the album feels fresh and interesting and I put this down to the fact that Patrick has co-written the songs with several different people, all of whom have injected something different into this sonic landscape.
The Algorithm at first appears to be gloomy, bleak and depressing. It feels dystopian and almost claustrophobic in its heaviness at times, giving me the distinct impression that Patrick struggles to communicate any other way than through his music, with layer upon layer upon layer of angst, but after further listens, I realise it is more a search for understanding and positivity in a rapidly changing world and society divided.
If you’re a fan of Nineties-Naughties Industrial Rock and Metal such as NIN, Marilyn Manson, Ministry, Stabbing Westward, Blue Stahli, and Static X you might just like to add this to your playlist.
The Algorithm was released on August 25th and is available on all streaming services and through Australian label, Golden Robot Records.