King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime

Faith No More

Slash Records, 1995

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Most bands -- if not all -- have that one album that defines their careers; a few recent examples of which would be Nevermind (Nirvana), The Downward Spiral (Nine Inch Nails), and Superknown (Soundgarden). Such records do -- and did -- so incredibly well that even the bands themselves are oftentimes taken aback by the results. Though the limelight is good, equally bad is the aftermath. The expectations burdening the follow-up sometimes completely weigh it down; no matter how well it turns out, it will always be compared with its predecessor and looked upon as a letdown, sometimes strongly, sometimes not so strongly.

Faith No More (FNM had an ardent cult following, but never really broke out into the commercial market. Angel Dust was the group's definitive record, but still went largely unnoticed. People who know the band and know the album would have no hesitation in putting it amongst the ranks of the "rock classics" mentioned above. At the same time, the same people would also consider everything made after Angel Dust disappointments, which also includes the album King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime.

Now, is King For A Day…really a failure? Well, it is and it isn't. For one thing, it fell victim to being the follow-up to Angel Dust. As a result, it was destined to be a failure before it was even born. On the other hand, however, one shouldn't be too critical of it, and if treated with some consideration (which is the treatment it deserves), my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 King For A Day…is not that bad an album after all.

FNM mellowed down after Angel Dust and the subsequent departure of their guitarist Jim Martin; the band line-up on King For A Day…consisting of no guitarist at all -- replacement Trey Spruance was considered a guest musician and not a part of the band lineup. This brought out the subtler, more experimental side of the band. The only album hit -- the irresistible, sensuously funky "Evidence" -- is a smooth jazz-funk number fit to be played in a bar to soothe its smoked-out patrons, than to be played in an arena in front of ten thousand sweat-drenched people with long hair, tattoos and gross body-piercings.

"Star AD," with its crazy trumpets and horns, "Caralho Voador," with its smooth bossa-nova rhythm, and the closer "Just A Man," with its soulful church-music-like chorus, clearly exemplify the group's search for different sounds to compensate for the loss of the fist-clenching heavy-metal music that they knew they could never reproduce now that Martin was no longer a part of the band.

Subdued it might have become, but FNM was a heavy metal band at heart, and the adrenalin was still pumping in its veins. Even though in much smaller proportions, this wild rush of blood was put to good use by the group on songs like "Absolute Zero," "Digging A Grave," and "What A Day," all of which, in a weird but convincing way, sound like a cross between Iron Maiden and Therapy(?).

King For A Day…came during a period in the band's career when it was on a decline and was soon to be history. Such times bring out the most poignant masterpieces from a band, as well as most horrid fiascos, and King For A Day… houses examples of both. "Ricochet," "Take This Bottle," "King For A Day" and "The Last To Know," with their 'more passion less aggression' formula, show the maturity of the act in coping with what it had in terms of its members and the chemistry between them.

On the other hand, "Cuckoo For Caca," "Star AD" and "Ugly In The Morning" find the members trying to have fun -- something they were very good at during Angel Dust and The Real Thing -- but having the most miserable hangover and not being able to handle it at all.

The whole album and the band's state of mind can be summed up perfectly with the first paragraph of the opening cut "Get Out," on which singer Mike Patton sings"What if there's no more fun to have / And all I've got is what I had / What if I have forgotten how / Cut my losses and get out now." King For A Day…is FNM's most experimental work. The band should be given credit to have stuck together even during times of volatility and making the best of what is had, which is way better than what current funk-metal acts make of in their most productive phases.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B



© 2005 Vish Iyer 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 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.