Fantomas have gathered quite a following through out alternative culture. They released a self titled album in 1999, which was made to be a soundtrack to a French pre-WW2 graphic novel. It featured 30 songs, one for each page of the book, and through the whole album Patton doesn't speak a word, choosing instead to say seemingly random syllables.
In (I think) 2001 they released a covers album of 70's film theme songs, called The Director's Cut. Slightly more normal, but then again, have Fantomas ever been normal?
In 2004 they released the haunting epic Delirium Cordia, one 74 minute song of noise, ambience and sheer horror.
All albums of the Fantomas are based on one thing: Unpredictability. You can never tell what the next song, page, moment or day is going to be like, especially with their vast repetoire of samples, and Mike Patton's extremely versatile voice.
On April 5th 2005, they released Suspended Animation, a tribute to children's music and the month of April. There are thirty songs, each representing a day of April. First thing you must know about this album is the packaging. This is worth the price of admission alone. It is a thirty day calendar for April, with glossed paper and it's also ring binded. Each day has 3 things; an illustration by Japanese pop artist Yo***omo Nara, which are sometimes cute, sometimes scary, thought provoking, or just funny. It also lists different national holidays held in different countries (though it's mostly USA), and has a little awesome cartoon of a baby which is dressed up differently each day (goth, afro hippie, ninja, geek, you get the idea), which are extremely cute.
The whole packaging is made to look like a Japanese calendar (it has Japanese writing in some places), and it does it perfectly, it even has little holes for you to pin it up (but you wouldn't) and a space to put your name. Gorgeous. But it's innocence decieves you, of course.
Doing a day-by-day review of this album would take hours of listening, even weeks, because there is so much unpredictability and variety that it's impossible to keep up with it all. A riff will be played twice, and the song will change completely.
I'm not sure whether Patton is saying anything on this, but I'm pretty sure he's not. Buzz does a bit of singing on the 10th day, and does very well, I'm pretty sure he's saying something.
The whole album is abundant with funny samples from cartoons or effects the band have made themselves. Sometimes it's spooky, sometimes it's funny. And I'm sure if someone was brave enough to check they'd find that about 1/5 of this album is samples.
The vocals go from 50's Jazz crooning, to operatic howling, to weird sounds, to harsh, freaky (one part, there's all of these samples goin' on and Patton says in this downright scary voice "QUIET!!!"), and just about every style you can think of. Patton is a genius, the best vocalist ever.
The drumming has a very rich sound, very soft and thudding, it suits the metallic music well. Dave doesn't get to show off like other albums, though, except for when he follows the vocals with excellent cymbal tapping.
I can't hear bass, so I honestly can't comment on Trevor's playing.
Buzz gets a wicked distorted, loud noise out of his guitar that you have to hear to believe. The 6th day has the best sounding riff ever, it's kind of loud and echoey and comes out of nowhere, it kicks. Oh, and unlike Melvins, don't expect any solos, this is a solo-free zone.
The riffing goes from fast, almost punkish, to sludgey and thudding (Buzz shines here), to loud and bombastic.
Basically, the album is very all over the place and loud, and sometimes scary (not to the extent of their other material, it's more "that is weird" then "AAAGH!!!"). Don't purchase this wanting beautiful melodies, straight out metal and awesome lyrics. Instead, prepare to be challenged, creeped out and most of all, surprised.
An excellent album, well worth the purchase for the packaging, but the album is near-perfection too.