In 1992, Faith No More already had a big following due to the success of their previous album with Mike Patton (who replaced original singer Chuck Mosley), The Real Thing. That album combined elements of funk, metal, hip hop, and everything in-between, and could even be seen as an early precursor to nu-metal.
With an album that potentially started a new genre, Faith No More did the only thing they could do as a follow-up… change their sound. As we approach the 25th anniversary of the album that sent Faith No More in a totally different direction, let’s give it a spin on vinyl and look back on a truly classic rock album.
Angel Dust served as a changing of the guard so to speak, as more control over the direction of the music went to Mike Patton, and guitarist Jim Martin was pushed aside. Unsurprisingly, Martin eventually left the band after the recording of the album.
There were rumors that Martin barely even played on the album, as the focus shifted to the vocals of Mike Patton (and rightfully so, his voice is one of the best), and less on the guitar work that the band was known for. Although, this has since been discredited.
Right from the beginning, opening track Land of Sunshine is all over the place, taking a page from Patton’s other band, Mr. Bungle. Being a fan of Mr. Bungle at the time, I was fine with it, and still am today. It’s an opener that tells you this is a new Faith No More.
Caffeine is a song that would be one of the first that Patton had creative input on, as he was technically a hired gun for the previous album. Patton’s genius as a musician is on display here for sure. This in your face track really runs the gamut from synth-driven rock, to metal screams, and everything in-between.
The moment Midlife Crisis starts is when the band’s new sound all comes together. This masterpiece of rock is unique in its sampling of Cecilia by Simon and Garfunkel and Car Thief by the Beastie Boys. That’s some combo.
The band is not only making their own unique style of rock, but showing their muscle as trendsetters in contrast to following what was popular at the time, or falling back on their original sound.
RV is like listening to a lunatic sing lounge music at a carnival. That is all I am going to say about the track.
Everything’s Ruined is a bit more alternative metal, but the format is still a mish-mash of sounds that all come together to make another great track.
Malpractice is totally Faith No More doing Mr. Bungle. For anyone who’s never heard Mr. Bungle, give them a try and be prepared to not know what the hell is going on, while at the same time loving it.
Kindergarten is only one of two tracks that Jim Martin had any real input on, and you can really tell, as his great guitar work is front and center.
The other Martin track, Jizzlobber, is a mix of the new and old sound of FNM, and gets more metal than anything else on the album with the guitar and Patton’s scream.
Be Aggressive is all keyboardist Roddy Bottum, as his keyboard and synths take over here. The cheerleader chants add to this totally out-there song.
For me, it’s always been about A Small Victory. I love this song. It’s the most accessible song on the album as far as mainstream radio, but that’s not why I love it. I just love the beats and Patton’s voice, as his vocals are just on fire here.
When everything comes to a close with a cover of the theme from the film Midnight Cowboy, you realize that as whole, you just listened to an album that was an art project more than anything else.
This album ushered in a new style of artistic, disjointed rock that experimented to the nines. Faith No More once again made an album that would become influential in the years that followed.
Bands like The Deftones and System of a Down cite Angel Dust as an influence on their style. Angel Dust is a must-have for any vinyl collection, and an album that should be played at full volume so you can hear every little part that the band pieced together to form what many consider their best work.
For more great vinyl, give a spin to OK Computer by Radiohead and listen to another album that is considered a work of art. Another band that recently returned and is total art rock is At The Drive In with Interalia.