Spin Magazine ?/1995
Faith No More
King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime
What seems like several thousand years ago, before Lolla-palooza, in the days when Kurt Cobain was probably still working out Kiss songs on his guitar, Faith No More was the king of "alternative" rock. It was SPIN's Artist of the Year toward the end of the paleolithic age, a genre-busting post-punk art-rock band whose music veered abruptly between Rush, Metallica, and Devo. And though its hit "Epic" may sound tame after a few years of Beck and the 69 Boyz, at the time, it may have been the rawest single to break into Billboard's top five.
But its last album, Angel Dust, kind of tanked, and its last hit, a rather too faithful rendition of the Commodores' "Easy," nudged the group over to a cramped corner of VH-1-land. On King For A Day, though, the band reinvents itself with a deftness last seen when the Red Hot Chili Peppers signed on producer Rick Rubin and learned to write a hook. Faith No More let go lemuresque guitarist Jim Martin and temporarily picked up Trey Spruance from singer Mike Patton's side project, Mr. Bungle. It abandoned long-time producer Matt Wallace in favor of Andy Wallace (who mixed Slayer's Reign In Blood and Nirvana's Nevermind), and the album's sound has the burnished, jackhammer-sheathed-in-a-lubricated-condom presence of Wallace's best work.
Patton has finally abandoned his adenoidal Dickies whine for a more nuanced Jello Biafra-as-Tom Jones thing, which works better than you might think. Though the music still careens from genre to genre as casually as most bands go from chord to chord--there's a song here for every radio format, and you may grow to despise the "Sukiyaki"-flavored blue-eyed-soul song "Just a Man"--King for a Day is never less than coherent, which is more than you can say for Primus.
On a few songs, Faith No More may be the first band to surgically join the Bay Area speedmetal crunch chords of bands such as Metallica and Testament with the kind of simpy pop melodies Mariah Carey might feel comfortable singing. On parts of King for a Day, Faith No More does for speed metal what REO Speedwagon did for the regular kind of metal more than 20 years ago. And I mean that, I guess, as a compliment.
Thanks to Chris Lindsay.