Faith No More – Album Of The Year (1997)

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Faith No More’s 1997 release Album of the Year featured the talents of another new guitarist, Jon Hudson, who replaced Dean Menta (Menta only toured with the group in support of King for a Day before being dismissed). Like King for a Day, Album is more straightforward musically than past releases and remains one of FNM’s most focused and concise works. Recorded in bassist Billy Gould’s home studio, Album of the Year would turn out to be their last studio recording before splitting up in 1997. A trio of outstanding tracks ? “Stripsearch,” “Last Cup of Sorrow,” and “Ashes to Ashes” ? blend hard rock and pop melodicism the way only FNM can, while “Helpless” is an unpredictable composition that alternates between heavy guitar riffing and Mike Patton’s tempered vocals. The explosive album opener, “Collision,” and “Naked in Front of the Computer” show that the band can still compose prime heavy rockers, while other musical forms were included as well (the romantic ballad “She Loves Me Not,” the evil boogie of “Home Sick Home,” and the Middle Eastern sounds of “Mouth to Mouth”). For the gripping album closer, “Pristina,” the ’90s turmoil in Yugoslavia is used as a backdrop for a tale of lovers being separated due to war. Album of the Year was a fitting way for one of alt-rock’s most influential and important bands to end its career.

1 Collision
2 Stripsearch
3 Last Cup of Sorrow
4 Naked in Front of the Computer
5 Helpless
6 Mouth to Mouth
7 Ashes to Ashes
8 She Loves Me Not
9 Got That Feeling
10 Paths of Glory
11 Home Sick Home
12 Pristina
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Faith No More – Angel Dust (1992)

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Warner Bros. figured that lightning could strike twice at a time when oodles of (most horribly bad) funk-metal acts were following in Faith No More’s and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ footsteps. In response, the former recorded and released the bizarro masterpiece Angel Dust. Mike Patton’s work in Mr. Bungle proved just how strange and inspired he could get given the opportunity; now, in his more famous act, nothing was ignored. “Land of Sunshine” starts things off in a vein similar to The Real Thing, but Patton’s vocal role-playing is smarter and more accomplished, with the lyrics trashing a smug bastard with pure inspired mockery. From there, Angel Dust mixes the meta-metal of earlier days with the expected puree of other influences, including a cinematic sense of atmosphere. The album ends with a cover of John Barry’s “Midnight Cowboy,” which suits the mood perfectly, but the stretched-out, tense moments on “Caffeine” and the soaring charge of “Everything’s Ruined” make for other good examples. Even a Kronos Quartet sample crops up on the frazzled sprawl of “Malpractice.” Other sampling and studio treatments come to the fore throughout, adding quirks like the distorted voices on “Smaller and Smaller.” The band’s sense of humor crops up frequently ? there’s the hilarious portrayal of prepubescent angst on “Kindergarten,” made all the more entertaining by the music’s straightforward approach, or the beyond-stereotypical white trash cornpone narration of “RV,” all while the music breezily swings along. Patton’s voice is stronger and downright smooth at many points throughout, the musicians collectively still know their stuff, and the result is twisted entertainment at its finest.

1 Land of Sunshine
2 Caffeine
3 Midlife Crisis
4 RV
5 Smaller and Smaller
6 Everything’s Ruined
7 Malpractice
8 Kindergarten
9 Be Aggressive
10 A Small Victory
11 Crack Hitler
12 Jizzlobber
13 Midnight Cowboy
14 Easy (Bonus)
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Faith No More – The Real Thing (1989)

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Starting with the careening “From Out of Nowhere,” driven by Bottum’s doomy, energetic keyboards, Faith No More rebounded excellently on The Real Thing after Mosley’s firing. Given that the band had nearly finished recording the music and Patton was a last minute recruit, he adjusts to the proceedings well. His insane, wide-ranging musical interests would have to wait for the next album for their proper integration, but the band already showed enough of that to make it an inspired combination. Bottum, in particular, remains the wild card, coloring Martin’s nuclear-strength riffs and the Gould/Bordin rhythm slams with everything from quirky hooks to pristine synth sheen. It’s not quite early Brian Eno joins Led Zeppelin and Funkadelic, but it’s closer than might be thought, based on the nutty lounge vibes of “Edge of the World” and the Arabic melodies and feedback of “Woodpeckers From Mars.” “Falling to Pieces,” a fractured anthem with a delicious delivery from Patton, should have been a bigger single that it was, while “Surprise! You’re Dead!” and the title track stuff riffs down the listener’s throat. The best-known song remains the appropriately titled “Epic,” which lives up to its name from the bombastic opening to the concluding piano and the crunching, stomping funk metal in between.

1 From Out of Nowhere
2 Epic
3 Falling to Pieces
4 Surprise! You’re Dead!
5 Zombie Eaters
6 The Real Thing
7 Underwater Love
8 The Morning After
9 Woodpecker from Mars
10 War Pigs
11 Edge of the World
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