Monday, January 28, 2008

Faith No More - Angel Dust

In 1992, Faith No More was that one big band that everyone was keeping an eye on. Fresh off of the just-add-water success the band had enjoyed from The Real Thing, there was a ton of anticipation regarding it’s follow up effort. Rather than play it safe, Faith No More delivered a wake-up slap in the face to the Mtv generation with their new album, Angel Dust. Gone were the campy rap anthems that littered its predecessor, and in their stead were songs that began to venture more into a prog rock arena, for lack of a better phrase. The boys were coming together to create a broad soundscape, and arguably their most focused collective of songs that forced the listener to repeatedly spin the album to fully grasp the magnitude of the music. Hell . . . Angel Dust spent the better part of the early ‘90’s in constant rotation in my 6 disc changer, and to this day, still sounds fresh and vital.

“Land of Sunshine” opens the disc with a sound of familiarity . . . guitars grind over a funked out rhythm section while the keyboards create a sonic backdrop. This song acts like a bridge between The Real Thing and Angel Dust. Mike Patton’s vocal acrobatics tell us that he was holding back (or being held back) on the last recording. “Caffeine” kicks in a bit heavier than the lead track, just to make it official that things have changed for good. Note Patton’s vocals take on a texture unlike anything he had done to this point. The first single, “Midlife Crisis” has become a classic FNM song. It has everything you need. Great vocal performance, awesome drum work, a groovin’ bass, classic understated guitar work, and some intense keyboard / programming at the 2:22 mark. Though all of the songs have that Faith No More sound, there’s something just dark about the tones. It’s almost as if the band made a conscious decision to do something that would raise eye brows and be less accessible. Almost like that instant fame didn’t sit well with them and they were going to let the world know about it.

“Smaller and Smaller” is a dark and heavy tune, dynamic in composition, but rooted in a primal groove. Another great vocal performance. “Everything’s Ruined” bounces effortlessly from light to dark shades. Keyboard and bass heavy with great support from Jim Martin’s guitar work. “Malpractice” is a schizophrenic chaos-fest waiting to come unhinged, yet remaining held together when all looked lost.

One of the more surprising moments on Angel Dust is “Kindergarten”, a thoughtful and reminiscent journey through the innocence of adolescence. Personally, I thought that this song would have made a great video because of the vivid imagery that’s painted through the lyrics. Big bonus on this tune is the bass solo provided by Billy Gould. It’s got a little jazz vibe and adds a touch of class to an already flawless song.

“A Small Victory” is another keyboard laden track, which would become the second single, and also has a small touch of the sound that the band has worked to leave behind. Though a bit mellow at times, the musical dynamics work well in building tension, and Patton’s voice is filled with great nuance. “Crack Hitler” and “Jizzlobber” are two of the more brutal tunes on the album. Heavily rhythmic and diverse, they’re songs that are hard to sit still through, especially the latter track.

Honestly, I could go on for days describing every nifty little piece of music on the disc, but part of the fun is listening to it and discovering the little gems for yourself. Angel Dust is packed with hidden musical treasures. Tempo shifts, instrumental interchanges, vocal virtuosity, and all sorts of other production tricks make listening to this album similar to walking through The Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you do it once, you’ll inevitably miss something . . . and that something could be important. Classic album not to be missed. If you already own it, then you know what I mean. If you don’t own it, move your little mouse thingy down the screen and click one of the links and enhance your music collection with one of the most overlooked albums of all time. - Pope JTE

Buy here: Angel Dust


Anonymous said...

Brilliant album. No question. Im still discovering new things in this album and Ive listened to it for 3 years.

Jizzlobber said...

in my top-3 90s rock albums

a true masterpiece ,never to be equalled again by mike&co

timmo said...

have owned this album for over 20 years, still sounds bloody good, fresh and exciting on every listen - jizzlobber is above a mere song

only wish they'd split after this rather than doing the stuff without jim

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