Faith no More… who hasn’t heard AT LEAST one song from them (Epic)? Until recently, I knew Faith no More only from their single Epic that rocked the early 1990s and brought FNM to an incredibly successful high. Having heard only one song from these guys, I thought to myself “What one hit wonders". After purchasing this album though, I realized that I could not have been more wrong. This album rocks hard from start to finish with each member of the band displaying their excellent and eclectic playing beautifully. There are so many elements of FNM’s sound that make them absolutely kickass. For example, each member of the band brings something interesting to the sound. Its not like with some bands where all the emphasis is on the guitars and the bass is barely audible and the drums play generic beats. Nope people, this is Faith no More. Listening to this album feels like the members of the band are beating you senseless with their instruments (and Mike Patton is Screaming at you). You are currently getting owned by one of the hardest rocking bands of the 1990s.
The first thing that struck me when I listened to this was Mike Patton’s vocals. They are absolutely excellent. He can go high and low, melodically (like in The Real Thing) and aggressively (like in Surprise! You’re Dead!), and his voice is quite unique. It is slightly nasal and slightly whiny. Yet although those are usually negative attributes, the way he sings makes it seem very nice and very fitting to the music, which is the essential part. In addition, in some songs he raps. Now you must take into account that this album is from 1989 and rap back then was very “old-school". So, his rapping isn’t at all that bad. Plus, every nu-metal band of the 90s that rapped a little in a few songs (Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Incubus, etc) got it from Mike Patton. That is merely a LITTLE part of how influential FNM was.
Another great part of their sound is the bass. Billy Gould always seems to be playing the perfect bass line. He goes all out when the time is right (like in Wood peckers from Mars) and takes the back seat and plays simpler stuff when something else needs emphasis (like in the verse of Epic). Yet, no matter what kind of a bass line he’s busting out, he is always present delivering a nice extra edge of heaviness to the song. He mainly plays rock bass lines but he occasionally does some quick slapping to add some spice to the rhythm.
The guitar riffs throughout this album are all pretty fresh despite them not being outlandishly original (with the exception of Surprise! You’re Dead! Which, I believe, has generic thrash riffs on purpose). Songs like The Real Thing have some heavier metal riffs while other songs like Zombie Eaters have softer more melodic riffs that sound kinda trippy. The only problem is that Jim Martin doesn’t play enough lead parts. There is not one guitar solo on the whole album. Some songs, I think, would really benefit from some.
Adding a whole new dimension to the riffs and the whole feel of the sound is Roddy Bottum’s keyboard work. In many songs such as From out of Nowhere, Falling to Pieces, and Underwater Love you can really hear him add depth to the riffs. Without the keyboard both these songs would need to be changed because they would be too insipid and one-dimensional. Also, he plays some nice lead work in Wood peckers from Mars. I’m not sure if he’s really a skilled musician but what he does goes very well with the rest of the band.
Mike Bordin, the drummer, mainly plays standard rock beats but he delivers them with enough energy to keep the sound nice and heavy, which some drummers simply cannot do (sadly). He plays some nice fills here and there and has a nice drum intro to The Real Thing. He seems to be very tight with the bassist because the sections where the drums and the bass play alone (the verse of Epic, the intro to the morning after to name a few) sound very heavy and keep you attentively waiting for the song to carry out and appear in all its glory.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with this album. It has many catchy but hard rocking songs that are a perfect blend of metal aggression, melody, and almost funky rhythms. A few songs have a Jazzy feel, especially the song Edge of the World. Moreover, the instrumental track Wood Peckers from Mars is essential to the album because it shows that Faith no More is really tight as band and can really work as a band. In addition, one can not exclude the excellent Sabbath cover War Pigs. They literally are able to make it Faith no More’s War Pigs because when they play it, one could think that the song was written by them and not by Black Sabbath. They completely play it in their style, which I find remarkable. Yet, among this rather colorful assortment of songs some of them just don’t quite cut it. Falling to Pieces is not too bad of a song with some catchy lyrics and smooth flow but it seems abit too bland compared to the rest of the songs. Surprise! You’re Dead! is simply too generic. Whether it is on purpose or not, the “been there done that" thrasher is not very good. Zombie Eaters starts off very melodic and has an almost spacey feel as the keyboard comes in and Patton starts singing. But then it turns to a repetitive heavy rap filled section. The two parts just seemed a little heterogeneous and I find the song to be a bit boring overall. Lastly, I found that the morning after was quite expendable save one riff towards the middle of the song. Besides that though, every song has something to offer and the mere catchiness and groovy feel of the album won’t let you down. Every listen seems fresh. Headbanging to this album is actually rejuvenating.
Recommended tracks: From out of Nowhere, Epic, The Real Thing, Wood Peckers from Mars, War Pigs.
Bottom line: 4/5 A fun album to listen to anytime. Definitely worth buying or downloading but not quite a classic in my opinion.