Angel Dust

Faith No More

Slash /Reprise Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


The Faith No More fans that I have talked to are as divided as our political parties when it comes to which period of the band was the best. Some prefer the more funk-oriented style of the band with such hits as "We Care A Lot" and "Falling To Pieces". Others say their last two albums are their best, going full out on the avant-garde obscureness mode.

The album right in the middle of this transition is Angel Dust. Fans of the album are some of the most psychotic fans I've seen of an album. I've read a story of a guy who had to sell his album collection (300 albums), but insisted of keeping Angel Dust. Other fans closer to campus call this one flawless.

Five years after buying it, Angel Dust is still a noggin scratcher for me. Released right after Faith No More became on the biggest success stories of 1990, the album was a response to the huge popularity the band received. "Epic" was all over MTV and the song was actually sandwiched between MC Hammer and Whitney Houston in pop stations across the US. Meanwhile Faith No More's true followers were having difficulty moshing with frat boys who just came to the concerts to hear one or two songs off my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Real Thing. Faith No More took a simple approach:scare the shit out of the new fans by making an album that was as lacerating as a butcher's knife.

The album starts off promising. "Land of Sunshine" is a sarcastically funky song filled with unsettling lyrics. "Prepare for a series of comfortable miracles", Mike Patton's baritone voice broods while Jim Martin lays down some nice fretwork.

If only Angel Dust had more moments like these. "RV" and "Malpractice" are supposed to be disturbing but they come off as just being silly. Roddy Bottum manages to create a sinister mood by his keyboard playing, but Patton goes way over the top, ruining the mood of "Malpractice". It's the equivilant of seeing a performing artist walk on nails while beating himself over the head with a bike lock. The act may grab your attention, but does little else.

When Faith No More stops being weird for the simple sake of being weird, Angel Dust begins to get pretty addictive. "Smaller and Smaller", "Everything's Ruined" and the shuffling bass of "Midlife Crisis" show this band can be as disturbing as they want while being restrained. Bassist Billy Gould does some pretty fine bass work throughout the album, but only when they're operating as a cohesive whole can you begin to appreciate his style.

I'm not lambasting Faith No More for trying new sounds and styles out. Some experiments pay off in big dividends for Angel Dust. A great example of this is "Be Aggressive". While Patton is singing about being dominated, presumably by another man, a sunny chearleeder chorus chants "Be Aggressive, B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!". It's a priceless moment. Especially if you've heard a bunch of cheerleaders actually say this in real life.

Too often than not though, Angel Dust fails to be effective. Though "Crack Hitler" and "Jizzlobber" may be chilling to read on the lyric sheet, the musicianship seems to be on a mission to alienate as many people as possible. Some bands would have taken the success that Faith No More achieved and focused on creating an album that utilized their talents without "selling out". Instead, Faith No More seemed more paranoid to get their new legions of fans off their back as fast as they could. As a result, fans of Faith No More and heavy metal were robbed of a potential classic.

Rating: C

User Rating: B-


© 1997 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Slash /Reprise Records, and is used for informational purposes only.