Faith No More – Angel Dust
Land of Sunshine
Smaller and Smaller
A Small Victory
Angel Dust’s music is worlds away from anything FNM had previously put their name to. Just describing it is difficult – a twitchy, erratic symphony that spins through different movements and moods, always on edge.
Despite publicly giving the impression that he was just killing time in FNM until his ‘other band’ Mr Bungle hit the big time, singer Mike Patton excelled himself. The singer’s idiosyncratic character is smeared all over Angel Dust. Many of the lyrics were even cooked up in a sleep-deprivation experiment the singer endured – see the self-help psychosis of Land Of Sunshine or the gale-force paranoia of Caffeine.
There isn’t a second in Angel Dust that isn’t crammed with whirling ideas and clashing sounds. But the band had lost no aptitude for melody either. The whole thing resounds with these combinations.
A lovely metaphor for the visceral artistry of Angel Dust can be found in the album’s sleeve art. On the front cover is a beautiful image of a swan emerging from an azure background. On the rear: skinned animals and chopped-up meat. Even now, after listening to Angel Dust, other rock music suddenly seems to have far fewer ideas.
Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute.
Other albums released in June 1992
- It’s a Shame about Ray – The Lemonheads
- The Lizard – Saigon Kick
- Sunshine On The Sufferbus – Masters Of Reality
- The Crimson Idol – W.A.S.P.
- Legion – Deicide
- World Falling Down – Peter Cetera
- Hold Your Fire – FireHouse
- Out of the Cradle – Lindsey Buckingham
- Dehumanizer – Black Sabbath
- Meantime – Helmet
- The One – Elton John
- Tools of the Trade – Carcass
- Utopia Banished – Napalm Death
- Black Moon – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
- Somewhere Far Beyond – Blind Guardian
- The Art of Rebellion – Suicidal Tendencies
- Blues for the Red Sun – Kyuss
- Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Various
What they said…
“Angel Dust is a coming-of-age record where the main protagonist is corrupted by success and channels it into razor-sharp observations, cabalistic weirdness and peculiar onanistic sexual practices, a fucked up futuristic Manga Treasure Island or a Star Wars with sordid kicks and experimentalism in strange time signatures.” (The Quietus)
“Angel Dust is a haemorrhage of ideas that, at the time, stuck out like a sore thumb: whilst others preened and whined, Faith No More simply followed their own path. At the time it sounded like nobody else in the world. Now everybody wants to sound like them.” (Drowned In Sound)
“Angel Dust steps up the meta-metal of earlier days with the expected puree of other influences, further touched by an almost cinematic sense of storming atmosphere. The fact that the album ends with a cover of John Barry’s Midnight Cowboy suits the mood perfectly, but the stretched-out, tense moments on Caffeine and the soaring charge of Everything’s Ruined makes for other good examples.” (AllMusic)
What you said…
Marco LG: The summer of 1992 is where things started to go downhill musically for me. Grunge became ubiquitous and metal as I knew it morphed into a depression-obsessed genre played by people wearing flannel in the middle of summer. I was eighteen and just about coming out of my suicidal tendencies years (not the band). I did not need nor wanted that and I sought refuge by moving far and wide in opposing directions: I embraced prog rock and death metal. Naturally Angel Dust by Faith No More came out just about at the right time for me: it was weird, wonderful and none of the people around me liked it.
The real proof of how enormous this album was, and still is, is that the good stuff on it never made it to the radio or the TV. In fact, while Angel Dust was shipping hundreds of thousands of copies the radio and the TV were playing a single that was not on it: a cover of a song entitled Easy, of which I never heard the original.
My friends and I would spend hours marvelling at how “new” this album sounded while at the same time still incredibly ascribable to Faith No More, the band who gave us The Real Thing. Obviously a lot of people were paying attention, so that just a few years later metal would be turned again on its head by musicians determined to outdo the most daring moments in Angel Dust.
We used to call it crossover, then alternative, then nu metal and today we came full circle and call it progressive metal. Make no mistake, without Angel Dust we would not have had bands like Dillinger Escape Plan or Converge and today young and promising ensembles like Peripheral Cortex or Apple Sauce would not be playing the way they do.
For a long time, and to some extent to this day, any musical oddity defying any categorisation was called in my circles a “Patton-ism”. The term can be used interchangeably in a positive or a negative way, denoting a daring courage to experiment but at the same time an excessive taste for the strange and unhinged; which one of the two being dictated by the context.
It also applies to any release involving Mike Patton since Angel Dust, especially with Fantômas but also with Mr Bungle, a discography characterised by the quest for ever stranger ways to generate awe with music, realised however with alternating results: when it works it is the best thing in the world, when it doesn’t it’s essentially unlistenable.
Angel Dust is the first Faith No More album where Mike Patton had its way and was able to influence the writing process beyond just the vocal lines. Yet, it sounds very much like the product of a band. The well documented creative tensions that characterised its production were instrumental in making of Angel Dust such a masterpiece, and indeed Faith No More never managed to recreate the same magic since. A classic case of a release bigger than the sum of its parts.
In conclusion Angel Dust is a perfectly balanced album, where the insanity of the most daring Patton-isms is accompanied by the genius of a band working together. It is one of the most influential albums of the 90s and its influence continues to be felt throughout metal and beyond. It remains an electrifying listen almost 30 years after its release, and for that reason I will score it a round 10 out of 10.
Paul Hutchings: It’s great to see some really in-depth reviews and a load of members checking the album out either for the first time or for the first time in years. Like many, I kind of dropped off FNM after The Real Thing. My reason mainly kids and lack of money to buy music (would have been a different world with streaming services in the 1990s for me – but that’s another argument). I’ve listened to Angel Dust many times in the last 20 years and it gets better every time I do. It’s unsurprising that so many rate it as the seminal FNM album. It’ll get a good score from me
Uli Hassinger: This one and the following King For A Day… are my favourite albums of them because unlike their first records there are no bad tracks on them. On the other hand the real killer songs are missing on this album. Midlife Crises comes closest.
They obviously had their own style: groovy bass lines, freaky keyboards combined with strong guitar riffs and the special voice of Patton. In parts the album gets freaky, but it never gets boring. I see that they brought something new up, but I’m not their biggest fan. For me it’s a solid 7/10.
By the way, to me the best album from Patton is the new Mr Bungle (The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo). Originally a demo tape from 1985 never released as a record, they recorded it new in 2020 with the help of Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo. Patton is singing like a lunatic and the guitar riffs are massive
Carl Black: If Mike Patton was covered in Chocolate , he’d eat himself. He loves himself to bits and less on this album. Never one to shy away from the limelight, he and the band were at the height of their fame during this album release. They had everything: sugary sweet singles in Be Aggressive and Easy; left-of-centre craziness in Jizzlobber and Crack Hitler. And my preference, in-between the safe and the unsure, Midlife Crisis and Small Victory, whilst all the while remaining true to their sound, which picks and mixes from all things and everything. All the members really shine and the songwriting really hit a peak. Great album.
Gary Claydon: I like FNM, despite their sarcasm and seemingly awkward-for-the-sake-of-it attitude. I like Angel Dust, I think it’s their best album. I like the ‘big’ sound, a lot of which is down to the excellent drumming here. I like the fact that they were prepared to eschew a formula which had brought commercial success with The Real Thing, in order to experiment with and expand their sound. That’s a trait which has always appealed to me in a band/artist.
But I think Angel Dust’s importance has been blown out of proportion. I have no doubt it influenced a number of bands but to describe Angel Dust as one of the most influential metal albums of all time? Not buying it, not one bit. For starters you could probably have a lengthy discussion about whether it’s really metal. Not that I’d want to. It’s a very good album. 8/10
Brian Carr: “Does life seem worthwhile to you?” Mike Patton poses this question in Angel Dust’s opener Land Of Sunshine and amidst the dark, twisted musical backdrop (circus metal?) sets the scene for a brilliant musical peek into the darker reaches of life.
The killer music and vocal talents on display on The Real Thing made me a big fan of the album. I don’t know how long it took me to get in on Angel Dust, but I’m fairly certain I bought the CD from a cutout bin. I wasn’t immediately enamoured. An odd thing happened over the years, though – when I dove into Faith No More, I found myself reaching for Angel Dust more often than its predecessor. I became captivated (addicted?). Actually, addiction might be the right word. During most weeks I listen to a combination of music and podcasts. This week’s listening time was roughly 95% Angel Dust.
What is it about this album that fascinates me so much? It’s dark, there are more screaming moments from Patton than I would normally be okay with, and holy crap is it dark. I think what hits me primarily is the sonic nature of the music – this is like the Wall of Sound on steroids. The parts fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. I think of the albums we’ve reviewed that have overbearing keyboards – Roddy Bottum is almost always audible, but perfectly placed in the mix. The rhythm section of Gould and Bordin is heavy artillery. Jim Martin’s guitar parts slam wonderfully but rarely stand out more than the other instruments. Everything fits perfectly in the sonic spectrum and provides the foundation for Patton’s vocal schizophrenic brilliance.
I find Angel Dust to be cinematic in a way reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, so it was cool to read that Billy Gould described the album using that exact word. The darkness comes, of course, from the lyrical content. Patton said he “drove around a lot in my Honda, drove to a real bad area of town, parked and just watched people.”
I’ve always said in the Club that I don’t typically pay close attention to lyrics, but many of these stand out. They don’t paint a pretty picture, but I suppose one of the magical things about Angel Dust is that I can listen repeatedly and marvel at the incredible performance and not get down over the bleak scenery or even get put off by the screaming moments. I have favourites, but would not skip any tracks on this album.
Chris Downie: Every musical generation spawns bands who simply defy classification and Faith No More, whose heyday straddled both the latter stages of the ‘hair metal’ phenomenon and the grunge revolution that wiped it out, were one such act. They were the Frank Zappa of their time, delivering anthems to a generation and unhinged, semi-coherent diatribes in equal measure (though the proverbial “musical differences” saw them fold in the late 90’s, after the excellent Album Of The Year opus).
While they built a cult following on the first two albums, fronted by the late, charismatic and talented-but-troubled Chuck Mosely, it was Mike Patton’s arrival for 1989’s The Real Thing that saw them realise their commercial potential. Yet while that album saw them regularly grace MTV, it was its 1992 follow-up Angel Dust that many (including this writer) cite as their masterpiece.
One myth that should be dispelled here is the oft-cited view that the hyper-eclectic Angel Dust came from out of nowhere (pun intended), for The Real Thing hinted at what was to come; for every From Out of Nowhere there was Edge Of The World and for every Epic there was Zombie Eaters, all of which showed their genre-hopping tendencies and refusal to be pigeonholed. Far from being a huge departure, Angel Dust was merely the logical extension of their desire to experiment and stoic refusal to buck trends.
In what proved to be their last album with eccentric guitarist Jim Martin, the riffs come at you thick and fast, while each member puts their own stamp on each track; while they give Pantera a run for their money on numbers like Caffeine and go borderline death metal on Malpractice, we have left-field jazz and blues infused balladry on RV. This is alternative music for people with OCD.
Such is the unclassifiable nature of Faith No More’s overall output, they remained on the outer edges of the mainstream, whilst retaining a sizeable and dedicated fanbase, enthralling, baffling and infuriating (often simultaneously) in equal measures.
They would make more great albums after this, not least 1995’s even more diverse follow-up King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime, but they would never replicate what they did here. That they influenced the risible “Nu-metal” subgenre that plagued heavy music in the late 90s and early 00s is regrettable, but they are far too vital to be remembered solely for that and indeed continue to outshine their countless imitators. This is a true work of art, ugly but captivating. 10/10
Mike Canoe: If there’s an album that saved my life, it might be Faith No More’s Angel Dust. When this album came out, I was living in a motel and working in rural Kentucky. While the people there were nice enough, I felt incredibly homesick for what I knew. I especially felt a disconnect from the alternative music wave that I loved and seemed to have come to a halt more than ninety minutes away in any direction, providing no access to any live rock shows or even decent music stores.
I bought Angel Dust on a weekend sojourn to the big city and when I got back, popped it into my Sony Discman and took a long walk around an area lake. As Land of Sunshine started booming into my ears, I was filled with the sense that everything was going to be OK.
There may be no Epic on Angel Dust, but there are plenty of epics, because this album finds Faith No More at the peak of their songwriting and performing capabilities. Aforementioned opener Land of Sunshine, but also Smaller And Smaller, Everything’s Ruined, A Small Victory, and Crack Hitler all take the listener on splendid aural adventures. Even the more brutal bashers like Caffeine, Malpractice, and Jizzlobber have plenty of light and shade to go along with the sturm and drang.
As fantastic as Epic was, first single Midlife Crisis showed how far the band had progressed in the intervening years. I’ve spent almost 30 years listening to the album end on the melancholy Midnight Cowboy, so the cover of Easy was a nice if superfluous surprise. RV is still the song I am most likely to skip, but as someone somewhere must have said, the sun can’t shine all the time.
The musicianship on Angel Dust is jaw dropping. Roddy Bottum’s keyboards provide an orchestral background to some songs, punctuating Mike Patton’s vocals on others, and sometimes just provide respite with a simple melody in the middle of all the hammering. Mike Bordin must be one of the strongest yet fluid drummers in whatever genre we end up deciding this is. Bill Gould’s bass can lope like another lead guitar or it can pulverize like another set of drums.
And Jim Martin, for all the reports of being unhappy with the musical direction, is on fire, especially the solo on Everything’s Ruined and chicken scratch guitar on Crack Hitler. With five very capable chefs in the kitchen, he should probably also get kudos for stepping back and letting the others in.
Finally, Mike Patton. While I never really thought of him as a great singer like Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell or Ian Astbury of the Cult, he has an amazing voice that he is not afraid to push to extremes. As the principal lyricist, he paints powerful and evocative impressionist images that combined with his voice are incredible.
Favourite bits include the croaked opening line, of Midlife Crisis, (“Go on and wring my neck like when a rag gets wet“); the climax of A Small Victory (“If I speak at one constant volume…“), pretty much everything in Kindergarten (co-written with Bottum); the unhinged screams that punctuate Smaller And Smaller and Jizzlobber, the megaphone effect on Crack Hitler and on and on.
If, as Elton John famously sang, “sad songs say so much,” then anxious, angry, claustrophobic, ultimately cathartic songs say so much more. My personal experience colours my perception, but, for me, Angel Dust is finding where you fit in by hanging on to the music you love. To answer the interviewer in Land of Sunshine, “Yes, emotional music has quite an effect on me.”
John Davidson: Faith No More are a band I know through their hits rather than their albums ( I own Live at Brixton and their Greatest Hits) . I like some of their songs, but their brand of frat house, skate funk metal was a subgenre that never touched me deeply.
Other than Midlife Crisis, A Small Victory and the contemporaneous single Easy I had never heard Angel Dust.
First impression is that there is a lot going on, both musically and lyrically.
The opener, Land Of Sunshine, is a gentle introduction, close in tone to songs from The Real Thing with an accessible melodic core and a looping bass line that powers the tempo. There are some quirks and ticks among the vocals and Sabotage-style maniacal laughs, but nothing extreme.
Caffeine is a dense and twitchy song, less focused on melody and more interested in creating a jangling, unsettling, mood. Midlife Crisis returns the focus back on melody and still stands up to repeated listens. RV starts like a segue song in some demented Brechtian rock opera, laced with Zappa-esque humour. It works but it is on the fringes of the bizarre.
Smaller And Smaller has a heavy, Iommi-style riff and a tortured vocal more in line with Alice in Chains than the madcap fun of FNM. Fitting the theme of the song, the first half is dense and crowded. The middle section is an instrumental stretching of the legs before we return to the claustrophobic density for the close. Overall (vocals not withstanding) this sounds like Dream Theater style Prog Metal – which, given the timing, probably works the other way round.
Everything Is Ruined” is a simple melodic reflection on how shit goes bad, but with heavy guitars and a funky drum beat. It’s skate punk with the sensibilities of nu-metal embellished with pop harmonies. It works, but it’s an odd melange of ideas that perhaps spawned a genre all by itself.
Malpractice is an angry noisescape that steps over the line into unlistenable Kindergarten returns us to the more familiar off kilter skate funk, stuck in the blender with AiC. Be Aggressive is a heavy rap/funk about BJs that is a throwback to Who Cares a Lot.
A Small Victory is another radio friendly song structure with a singable chorus and a slightly twisted lyric. Crack Hitler is what you get when you throw funk rock and an American gothic crime fiction soundtrack into a blender. Jizzlobber is dark and dense. Think: Soundgarden meets Type O Negative when they are feeling angry and depressed.
The final two tracks kind of defy explanation. Midnight Cowboy is played pretty straight with muted guitars and keyboards. The add -on single Easy is a decent enough cover of The Commodores’ classic but feels like a vanity project for Mike Patton to show he can really sing rather than a band effort despite the soulful guitar solo towards the end.
Perhaps if this was ‘secretly’ a concept album then the last two songs might finish off the story somehow, but it seems more likely that they just had a bunch of ideas and threw them all on the album regardless of the impact.
To their credit, FNM were not content to simply trot out more of the same after their success on The Real Thing. This album is full of ideas and ambition, and musically it’s well executed. On that level I can admire it, but that doesn’t mean I like it. There are good individual songs, but then something like Malpractice comes on and I just switch off.
The production is pretty full on – with lots of added squeaks and squeals on top of the dense musical arrangements where the keyboard and guitar layers sometimes blend into one alongside the lead and backing vocals. Looking at the credits this is genuinely a band effort but compared to The Real Thing, Mike Patton’s influence has started to show.
As an album it is dense, dark and demented where even the more expansive, melodic and ‘gentle’ sections have the overtone of a smiling lunatic having a moment of calm before they rampage.
Overall, it does not speak to me in a musical language that I fully understand and the Zappa-esque humour doesn’t always land, so while it ticks some of my boxes there’s not enough to make me a convert to the Mike Patton school of songwriting. That said I’d give it a 7, recognising the skill and talent that went into it. And knowing that for those who ‘get it’ it will be a straight 10.
Hai Kixmiller: If you prefer your music a little more percussive, if you want the rhythm section thrust to the forefront of your rock, if you were rooting for Les Claypool to win the audition with Metallica, then this record is for you.
While Angel Dust has distorted guitar, dark and angry flashes, and spectacular vocal acrobatics and growls, it lacks… that something that would hold the attention of the vast majority of metal and hard rock fans.
I can’t really put my finger on it, but take the first song for example. That slapping bass is cool, but my brain instantly gets an image of Flea, from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and I instantly start comparing the two bands and their music. Only Mike Patton’s vocals keep me interested through the first three songs.
The Frank Zappa-ish, RV is a particular standout for me. It makes me stop whatever I’m doing and listen. This was the only track that really stopped being background noise. Now that Angel Dust has my attention, it segues really well into Smaller And Smaller and Malpractice which sorta have an Alice In Chains or S.T.P. vibe.
No surprise that the keyboards are front and prominent on Be Aggressive, seeing as how Roddy Bottum wrote this one. The background singers or cheerleaders on Be Aggressive are fun. They make me think of those girls that do that really fast rope skipping stuff. Or maybe they’re just there to take away from the tongue-in-cheek, or should I say the cock-in-cheek lyrics. Good one there, Mr. Roddy Bottum.
Is it just me, or did we land in Japan with A Small Victory? This one is quite radio-friendly. The only other songs that interested me were Jizzlobber which, according to Mike Patton, is about his fear of going to prison again.
And ending the album with a fantastic rendition of the Commodores classic Easy brings this rollercoaster ride smoothly back into the loading dock. Everybody make sure you remember to take your valuables with you, thanks for riding the Angel Dust today. Till next time, keep rockin’!
Roland Bearne: Ok, this is a solid 10. Here is a band with ambition, musicality and massive imagination. We have metal, funk, industrial and er… cheer leading! Dave Mustaine once said the metal was “like square dancing in a blender”. If you you jumped into FNM’s blender you’d be square dancing, getting tripped out on opiate floral aromas, then getting the munchies on razor wire!
I bought a numbered edition with the 12″ single based on loving The Real Thing. Wow, was in for more of a treat than I expected. Rather than following on from We Care A Lot and Epic, they just upped the whole vibe. If there is a more madly imaginative and musically aware artist in the qua heavy arena then Mike Patton, I’m a dutch uncle!
Caught them in ’92 at Wembley supporting Guns N’ Roses. Bonkers. Roddy falling flat in his back mid song. Mike doing somersaults and landing on his back then climbing onto the gate of the huge crystal screen.. and all without seeming to miss a note. But I digress, don’t analyse this, just dive in! Superb. As an advert for Duracell batteries used to say, “no other battery looks like it or lasts like it” !
Bill Griffin: I’ve never listened to an FNM album before mainly because I didn’t think it would be any good. I was pleasantly surprised by this one and like every song on it. I will have to check out some others.
Brett Deighton: The 90s was the period I started listening to more diverse music. This album came along at the perfect time for me. I had heard Epic but didn’t know much about the band. I loved how different their sound was and the diversity of the songs. Not every song did it for me but plenty of classic tracks. Still love this album today.
Keith Jenkin: Brilliant album. This record and the corresponding live shows was for me where – for better or worse – the heavy rock scene changed forever.
Ian McNee: This album takes me back. I don’t listen to it often now. When I do listen to it I do think it’s a forgotten gem. I picked it up around the age of 12, I was in the midst GNR / Metallica phase and had started to dabble with the alt.rock bands. As Faith No More were touring – or at least playing some high profile shows (Rock in Rio?) – with the aforementioned, I picked up Angel Dust.
The front cover wasn’t really rock enough for me. Angel Dust? What’s all that about? I remember asking my mum and she said, “Why? I think it’s something to do with drugs”.
Anyway I bought this album kind of blind through the connection with other bands I was into. I’d heard Midlife Crisis and I was pretty unlikely to pick up the new Mariah Carey unplugged album, so Faith no More it was.
Pressed play. Land Of Sunshine! Wow, what an opener. Caffeine, nice and heavy. My parents won’t like this so that means I did! Midlife Crisis, yeah I know this one. RV… er what? That’s a bit of a curveball. I used to skip this one and play the rest. My version didn’t have Easy on it which always annoyed me, this was long before the ‘deluxe’ version of albums was a thing. Adding one great tune to a great album is much better than the new Normal of adding 20 mins of meandering drivel.
The rest of the album is more comfortable than those opening few tracks that really sets it up. I loved this album, still do I guess but it is a bit of an odd one.
Tony Coatsworth: First listen, I was appalled. Continued listening, I think it’s a masterpiece now. Magnificent album.
Iain Macaulay: For a band that formed with the initial inspiration of trying to mix Killing Joke and PIL, this is the album that probably comes the closest to achieving that goal sonically speaking, if not the writing styles. In that I mean it’s dark, malevolent, paranoid, sarcastic and claustrophobic, much more so than their previous efforts. Although the songs Everything’s Ruined, Malpractice and Jizzlobber do come very close in the writing stakes.
The album is quite dense but flows with Idea after idea after idea, many which should not work commercially. Yet, they all result in making an album of more substance than the pop funk metal of the preceding The Real Thing, which is also arguably a classic in its own right.
If tension can be a positive in the creative process, and artistic struggle, then this album is testament to it being necessary to achieve great results. The band was ‘falling to pieces’ at the time of writing with Mike Patton and Big Jim having a very public fight. But you would never know by listening to the album and hearing how complex the sonic palette is, something which would have needed a lot of collaborative effort to make work. And what was created is a complete album listen from track one to thirteen, in the initial vinyl release. An hour that shows a band not playing it safe but revelling in creative expression.
There are obvious singles within, but the finished album comes out as more of a prog record, where you need to sit down and invest time to listen to it in a single sitting to get it, not dip in and out. That is how the magic is released. That is where all the substance is discovered.
Angel Dust is also the closest the band got to sounding in places like Mr Bungle too, probably due to Mike Patton getting a bigger hand in the creative process than on The Real Thing (which had been completed musically before his arrival and lyrical input) with off kilter rhythms and timings, disjointed riffs and schizophrenic voices that all hold together with enough melody and catchy ear worm pop sensibilities to make it an incredibly memorable listen regardless of its complexities.
And space. There is so much space between the individual instruments. Even when they are playing different parts in the one section. They all stand out and never get in each other’s way. Not to mention some very inspired and quotable lyrics, particularly on Midlife Crisis. Not forgetting Be Aggressive. A big singalong for the straight audience espousing the joys of homosexual oral sex.
This album takes the alt rock sound of Jane’s Addiction, Primus, Infectious Grooves and Helmet to a much higher level of credibility with a massive serious bent that somehow doesn’t detract from any commercial leanings, if anything, it makes them much stronger.
The U.K. have quite an affinity with Faith No More, evidenced by Live At Brixton, all four singles from Angel Dust charting and the album hitting No. 2, ironically being held off the top spot by Lionel Ritchie’s Back to Front album. Angel Dust also ended up selling more copies than The Real Thing, yet that is the album they are most remembered for.
Faith No More have come a long way from those initial goth/post-punk beginnings, although they revisited them on Sol Invictus, and it’s been a hell of ride. Just like the whole of this album is a hell of a ride. But a rewarding one. Through their career they have been called too heavy, to arty, too humorous and too experimental to be serious contenders or commercially viable yet, somehow it all works. And this, their most serious and ambitious album, is the one that gives the most on repeated listens after all this time because there is so much amazing music to soak up.
Paul Flewitt: Seminal album. Paved the way for bands like Korn to do what they did later. Definitely influential, and there isn’t a bad tune on the entire album. This is who FNM always were: you think you have them sussed, so they completely change the game they’re playing.
Kevin Miller: Just a phenomenal album. So much better than the one before it. I’ve listened to this one hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Not a bad song from start to finish, and that’s really how it needs to be consumed, as an album front to back.
So many bands list FNM as an influence from the obvious Korn to even Soundgarden, Metallica, and Sepultura. Mike Patton’s vocal work is mind-blowing. This is one of those bands that other famous musicians stand on the side of the stage to watch at festivals. Kerrang! called this the most influential metal album of all time. It’s really amazing they weren’t bigger. An easy 10/10.
StuPop Huepow: Great album when it came out. I remember in 2004, when rock seemed to be at an all-time low, Midlife Crisis was featured on one of the stations on Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and it was such a blast to hear it again, almost like a ‘wow, not heard this in ages’ moment, Rest assured, I started to dig out all my favourite gems again. Patton continues to amaze us to this day
Joseph Biron: Back in the day, I thoroughly enjoyed The Real Thing – every track. I don’t know why, but I never got back to FNM. Until today. Wow. I love this album. It sounds so fresh and unique, and badass all the way through. I cant wait to vote on this one. I’m also ready to explore their whole back catalog. Suggestions?
Alex Hayes: So, the old adage is true. You really do live and learn. After all these years, it turns out that Faith No More are at least partly to blame. I honestly had no idea.
I made zero effort to check this album out upon its release, showing a complete lack of interest in it that I now find a little strange. It seems odd because I’d been a big fan of FNM’s previous album, The Real Thing, and had come to regard them as a quality act. Perhaps I was preoccupied with other matters at the time, who knows?
All I can say for sure is that, popular singles (and subsequent radio staples) Midlife Crisis and Easy aside, my first full immersion into the sonic delights of Angel Dust happened just this week. It’s gone and opened my eyes to something that I’d not properly understood until now. Again, you really do live and learn.
First off, it’s great. A captivating head-trip of an album that encompasses all manner of moods and textures across its hour-long duration. Although omitted from the original album and only included on later reissues, FNM’s version of Easy has to be one of the best realised covers of the decade. Unfortunately though, the album’s reputation as an innovator is well justified too.
One thing that I do remember regarding Angel Dust was that it’s eclectic nature baffled the writers at Kerrang! magazine at the time, to such an extent that they were unsure of how to rate the album in their review (I think they awarded it 3 K’s out of 5). The album’s diversity seemed to catch them unawares. For 1992, something as left-field and off-kilter as this was definitely a rarity.
That certainly wasn’t the case a few years later though, such was this album’s influence. Angel Dust can almost be seen as a kind of template for the development of ‘metal’ music over the course of the next decade or so and, oh dear, that’s where things go majorly south for me with this. You see, me and the later 90’s music scene have never got on. Like, at all.
For some, it was hair metal. For me, it’s almost anything alternative flavoured from between roughly 1994-2004. In particular, any band that, either fairly or unfairly, was labelled with the ‘nu-metal’ tag and was a part of the mainstream ‘metal’ scene at the time. The puerile nonsense that passed for metal music during those heavily downtuned years was, and still is, nigh on unlistenable to me.
Maybe it was just a case of the timing being off. If I’d been a decade younger at the time, an angry teenager sulking up in my bedroom, then things could possibly have been different. In truth though, I’ve never been wired up that way and this whole era and it’s trends have always come across to me as embarrassingly juvenile in nature. Nu-metal was a godawful and extremely unwelcome development in metal for me and, oh, those whiny, faux teenage angst related lyrics. Yuck.
Mike Patton himself, who shines throughout Angel Dust, has been less than complimentary at times about many of the multitude of groups that went on to ape nearly every element of this album bar its intelligence. “Nu-metal makes my stomach turn. Don’t blame that poo poo on us, blame it on their mothers!” is a direct quote from him that I’ve lifted straight off Wikipedia. That seems a tad disingenuous though. What kind of music did he imagine that this album would go on to inspire?
On its own merits, Angel Dust is a fantastic record and will be getting a good score from me. Sadly, it’s legacy was a thousand ludicrous, cookie-cutter imitators and a sub-genre that was unbearable for the many fans that simply couldn’t relate to it. God, those were difficult years.
Neil Immerz: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s “influential” at all. Name me one band who took the “influence” of it and applied it to their sound.
Final Score: 8.54⁄10 (182 votes cast, with a total score of 1555)
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Louder – Faith No More: Angel Dust – Album Of The Week Club review
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February 8, 2021