MTV June 1997
Faith No More
Album of the Year (Slash)
by Tom Phalen
No one ever accused Faith No More of false modesty. The band's first (and to date biggest) single was 1989's "Epic," a colossal but not inaccurate conceit. And even though the band hasn't been able to recreate that grand scale of success since -- at least in the charts -- it seems to have no problem wryly blowing its own horn with the new Album Of The Year.
While the validity of such a statement may warrant debate, there's no denying this is a remarkably fresh album for a band which has been together some 15 years and suffered more than a few growing pains. Lead singer Mike Patton continues his role as vocal chameleon, easily sliding from rap funkster to faux Bowie crooner to throat-thrashing metal man to near-jazz romantic. Long-lasting drummer Mike Bordin and bottom mate bassist Billy Gould are still one of this jumbled genre's best rhythm sections; keyboardist Roddy Bottom continues to deftly mix mock classic flourishes with smooth synthesizers; and the band's new guitarist Jon Hudson makes his presence decidedly known.
Thematically, the songs don't break much new ground: Patton is still obsessed with the weird, the awful, and the frequently dead, as in the non-revivable "Mouth To Mouth" and the cryptically shared "Last Cup Of Sorrow." "Epic"-like dimensions show up in "Paths of Glory" and the closing "Pastina," which sounds suspiciously if not sarcastically like Grand Funk Railroad's "Closer To Home/I'm Your Captain."
It's also clear that the success of new head-pounding youngsters like KORN and Rage Against The Machine hasn't been lost on FNM. "Naked In Front Of The Computer" angrily rails its fists against The Man and his devices and "Ashes To Ashes" has operatic finality deserving of a brass urn.
The band's light side is probably the most surprising aspect. "Stripsearch," despite the inherent brutality of the title, is almost ethereal, and "She Loves Me Not" is sunny enough to have been sung by the Rascals' Felix Cavaliere.
While it's clear Faith No More is trying to touch as many musical bases as it can in one CD, it manages to pull off the attempt with considerable aplomb. The harsh and heavy is evenly tempered by the lighter, more melodic material; the playing is inventive, and Patton, the band's chief instrument, has as many colors as a sideshow rainbow.
Whether anyone still wants to listen to Faith No More is another question. The band has been so associated with the song "Epic" that any further offerings have seemed to pale in comparison, not unlike the curse Steppenwolf suffered after "Born To Be Wild."
But this is a very listenable collection, and Faith No More deserves to be more than a one-hit wonder. Album of the Year is one to be proud of, no false modesty required.
Thanks to Cesar Dubo Astorga.