Review: Filter Figures Out ‘The Algorithm’ With New Album

It’s been seven years since the last studio album by Filter.

In the world of rock and roll, seven years feels like an eternity. It’s enough time for audiences to drift away. Musicians grow maudlin and sing about how things used to be when they were popular. Remember the 1990s? We had wallet chains, Fruitopia, and big pant legs. Good times. If a band puts out a new album after seven years, it’s eyed warily as a half-hearted cash grab, a dumbed-down nostalgia trip.

Do not make that mistake with Filter’s intense new album, The Algorithm. This is no soft reintroduction to the band. There is no “Hey, remember us?” happy sign-waving. Vital, atmospheric, and more than a little angry, The Algorithm is no retread. The Algorithm whips listeners around, grabs them by the scruff of the neck, and holds them over the edge of a cliff.

Lead single “For the Beaten” assaults the listener with noises from the other side of sanity. Guitars whirl through the left and right channels. Drums keep a steady, stuttering beat. It is exhilarating, if a little scary, but trust the process. It culminates in a swelling chorus, all instruments coalescing into a thrilling ascension. Over it all, the encouraging and commanding voice of Richard Patrick holds everything together. Both harsh and soaring, “For the Beaten” is one of the best songs Filter has recorded.

Grim lyrics pervade the album. In “Obliteration,” Patrick describes his continued existence as ashes circling the drain. Repeated attempts at making himself understood are the crux of “Say It Again” as Patrick sings “The noise of most parts of my brain/It’s lost and it’s like I’ve gone insane.” But even through the mire, Patrick is still strong enough to call for revolution on “Threshing Floor.”

Patrick’s vocals have grown a bit ragged over the last few years. His raspy delivery gives the songs on The Algorithm authority, a desperate gravitas. Patrick has become the voice of experience: plaintive, perhaps a little tired, but unbowed. For those of us struggling to make sense of the world we live in, Patrick sounds like we feel. “We need to see again, we stopped listening/And that’s on all of us this time,” he sings on “Burn Out the Sun.” Patrick’s not wrong about that.

Lyrical content aside, The Algorithm shows a depth of musical arrangement not present in previous Filter albums. Unexpected chord progressions, weird bits of random sounds, and purposefully shaky harmonies pop up throughout the album. Filter’s production has always been slick, but The Algorithm both embraces and subverts it. There’s always something going on in these songs. No dead spots, no downtime. The Algorithm feels dense and heavy without being oppressive.

There are no throwaways on The Algorithm. It’s solid all the way through. Even the poignant acoustic closing track, “Command Z,” fits perfectly with the rest of the album. The Algorithm may not be the best Filter album, but it’s a strong contender for that title.

It’s been seven years since the last studio album by Filter. Damned if it isn’t worth the wait.

The Algorithm is scheduled for worldwide release from Golden Robot Records on August 25, 2023.

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