Sunday, 19 August 2007



Provided that they don’t reunite and ruin their legacy Faith No More should go down as one of the smartest and most versatile bands ever to rub up against the metal genre. Infinite in their ideas and capabilities this was a band of diverse individuals coming together to create an energetic cacophony of exciting sounds and genre bursting compositions. There were not many outfits in the pages of Kerrang you could say that about.

This was their breakthrough record. After a succession of singers (that even included Courtney Love at one point apparently) the arrival of Mike Patton on board seemed to complete the puzzle. With a vocal style able to paint many patterns at times it sounded on some tracks that there was more than one vocalist, so schizophrenic was his performance. He could rap, he could croon, he was perfect.

The Real Thing tends to get lumped into the funk rock genre of the time, in a way making Faith No More the Red Hot Chili Peppers that it is/was OK to like. You have to blame Bill Gould and his bouncy style of playing. Its not that it’s bad, it’s just all encompassing and coupled with the rap manner of Patton there is at times a kind of daisy age attached to proceedings.

It opens on a heart stopping entry with “From Out Of Nowhere” and a blatant ode to something/someone good. In the process it rolls over the listening insisting that they get caught up in proceedings, not offering them the option of indifference.

From here the album literally detonates as Roddy Bottum’s synth adds a variety of effects that accompany power chords provided by Jim Martin explosions.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the song this record is best known for is “Epic.” Its not that it’s a bad song, it is just that it is slightly stock, very indicative of the sound and genre the band were so cheaply lumped in with at the time. By the time their next record arrived a song like this would have become a distant memory but in many ears their reputation was already cast. Shortly afterwards “Falling To Pieces” displays a similar kind of delivery but thankfully provides a masterful swing and sensation of floatation.

The keys to the greatness of this album are the more subtle numbers. The measured approach and delivery of “Zombie Eaters” is a thrilling execution while “Underwater Love” is truly invigorating as Patton’s vocals leave a strange kind of ringing in its path.

Listening to “Woodpecker From Mars” now it sounds like a pre-emptive strike of what would be the Fantomas cover of “The Godfather Theme”. I cannot recall too many metal records featuring Russian fiddles at the time.

The Real Thing ends storming to the finish with its cover version of “War Pigs” which actually manages to improve on the original and almost cause Ozzy to roll in his grave. To this classic they brought an energy and groove that just was not there previously. The lyrical somersaults that Patton performs during this genuine epic are not of mere men. Times they were a changing.

In a perfect manner of book ending the album the evidently twisted “Edge Of The World” opens with doo-wop and creases with a swinging croon that feels exclusive to this band only as the subject matter would appear seedy in the most contradictory sense imaginable. You suspect that this dark side and humour is what Patton brought to the table and for many years now “Edge Of The World” has actually served as the stand out track on the album for me. You could do bad things to this song.

As so many albums from genre and era begin to sound dated, cheesy and inappropriate it is with genuine glee that I find this album holds up so well possessing still the power that it was always had but also the restrain that refuses to allow it to slip into cliché and cheese.

It was all looking good for a while back there.

Thesaurus moment: handsome.

Faith No More
London Records
Slash Records

1 comment:

powerslave said...

Hey, nice review! I agree with you with everything.

It feels like on one of those bands that never got their dues. Which is awesome in a way, because it suggests they didn't suck up to the 'industry' in some way.

I do like their cover of war pigs but I won't say it's better than the original, just different. Good different at that.

Excellent overview.