Faith no more ended their tenure in the music scene with this album, and it really wasn’t a bad way to go out. AOTY has some dark, driving rock anthems that are balanced in well with a few subtle, strange tunes that vary in theme and composition. What is great about Faith No More? This band never gave in to commercialized MTV or corporation pressure. By 1997, when the album was released, Grunge itself was in a downward spiral, giving way to “Nu-metal” while punk was again making a charge. Big Hair bands were trying to recapture their glory days, and Van Halen was pretty much officially over. Even the way bands dressed seemed to be a “retro” or nostalgic recreation from the 70’s. From the mid 80’s to the late 90’s, the one band that really to me sticks out as having their own style both visually and musically, was faith no more.
Faith no mores’ music in general cannot really be stuck in any category. Alternative? Hey, they were Alternative long before the moniker was becoming a household name in the early 90’s. Rap-Rock? This band had the sound long before the likes of Limp Bizkit. Nu-Metal? FNM was a breath of fresh air in the metal genre, separating them from the “skull metal” of Iron Maiden and Slayer. And “Power Ballads” wise their approach was more of a 1920’s easygoing song as opposed to the screaming sap we were saturated with by the likes of Cinderella, Slaughter, and Poison. The fact is, this is by far the most diverse overall rock band of the past 20 years. Each song is different. Each Album has its own identity and contrasting style compared to the last. They evolved seamlessly with the times, whereas so many others were trying to sound like the next Metallica, the next Korn, or the next Green Day. “Album of the year” was really an oxymoron for our times as commercially it didn’t do well in the U.S. Don’t let that scare you, this album did great in Europe and Australia. Many who started with this band after the release of “the real thing” LP with the single “epic” quickly dismissed anything that came after it. They all wanted another “epic”. What they didn’t realize was this band was not about making 40 songs like “epic”. They were about being innovative, creative, and experimental, while at the same time still being able to deliver cohesive, well rounded rock music that had a multitude of influences from rap, rock, jazz and blues to a harsh metal sound.
The album features a new guitarist in the lineup, but that is not really important as it doesn’t add or take away from the industrial prog rock project that this thing seems to take on. It’s the composition of the songs, the writing, and Mike Patton’s voice that is what stands out with this FNM album.
The opening track is reminiscent of a lot of what we got with their album “King for a Day/Fool for a lifetime”. “Collision” is just that, a song that is hard rock with a lot of flange and fuzz, before going into an in your face drum section that allows Patton to “talk” to us more so than “sing”. When he’s done with a verse, we explode again into a fast paced jam of guitars and drums that has Patton in a sandpaper snarl of a yell. If you want a song that wakes you up in the morning, Collision will do the trick nicely.
Stripsearch is track number two, and plays some technical, futuristic beats that draw is into an eventually slow, melodic song that is soft and soothing compared to the Collision we experienced in the previous song. Again, Diversity prevails. No two songs are the same in any way, via formulaic composition, instrument sound or theme. This is a great song as it will break out at times to bring us Patton with a dooming voice that echoes out in great baritone sound. At the end of the song it drops us off a ten story building to concrete below, as we enter into an extremely heavy bass solo that carries off to the end…an amazing piece that stands alone from the crowd. Just before that great heavy riff Patton tells us “stripped to the bone/I did no wrong/truth is my name…give yourself awayyyyy”.
“Last Cup of Sorrow” is actually recognizable as the band did do a video for this song that you might have seen. It’s a tune with a great heavy riff that carries the song throughout. The chorus is great in crescendo as Patton, who can sing baritone well, brings his vocals to a higher level. In doing this I am amazed at how great it sounds, when he’s singing higher notes, it’s not like “Journey” or “yes”. The song retains a heavy, fast feel to it and has some great tones of synthesizer that fill in the background to make give it a feel of a scary abandoned cathedral.
“Naked in front of the computer” is a less liked song, and is more along the lines of the bands days where the singer was talking to us more in a rap type format, only faster and more concise while we get a constant barrage of guitars and drums. Just a heavy, obtrusive song that again, is different from the others.
“Helpless” is the song title of track five and clocks in at over five minutes long. A beautiful, serenading song that floats along with some great dreamy sounds and a simple, acoustic sounding guitar piece. Again, how talented is this band? The technical proficiency, songwriting, and structure of each song are unique and sound. Many felt this album had no “direction” but who says it has to “go” anywhere? This album has a collection of songs that vary greatly in theme and sound, and that is what makes it all the more enjoyable as a truly complete album.
“Mouth to Mouth” is a great song that opens with a circus themed, fast paced organ sound. Parts of this song explore the Patton “yell” as he talks to us of the story, while other parts are composed as a fast rock jam that fits in well with the strange sounds of this song. Again, the circus theme sound is brilliant and helps give this song a strange but great listen.
Track seven is “Ashes to Ashes” and is an epic, rising semi-slow arena rock sounding tune that’s slow parts consist of a good electric guitar lick and Patton in a doomy, questioning voice as he smoothly delivers the lyrics before the hard parts hit and we’re swept away in a truly great guitar part as Patton lets his voice soar. One of the best tracks on here, and somewhat a truly “goodbye” song from this band.
“She loves me not” is a neat slow song, like something that you would imagine hearing when seeing people walking in a park on a Sunday Afternoon. Very R & B in style and again, after several “heavy” songs, is a perfect switch. These songs solidify that this band can really play any style of music and play it WELL.
“Got that Feeling” is an assault of punk rock power. All the way through, we have rock guitars that quickly break off into something else. The bands backup vocals are cool as they echo somewhat and fire along with the drums before Patton takes over with his signature 4 word blocks of yelling. The song ends with Patton saying “you can’t borrow, tomorrow”. Yet another ode that this would be their last studio album?
“Paths of Glory” is a different singing style as Patton is mid-range and smooth at delivering a heartfelt, plea-sounding voice. This song has kind of a dark, cryptic feel with the drums bringing us slowly along as we have that eerie, vast organ sound in the background to give it an ominous feel. The best “singing” from Patton as we are able to hear him in prime form with little guitars or other effects during the times he delivers parts of the song.
“Home sick home” has a guitar opening that sounds similar to the guitars we heard on the “From dusk till dawn” soundtrack. An almost acoustic, Wild West style before we’re brought down again into a somewhat brooding song. The guitars are great but the writing and composition of the vocals could use a little work. To much “droning” by Patton on here when he keeps saying “I’m coming home”. Perhaps that was the sound they were looking for, but overall I think this song is a little weak compared to the other great ones on this album. That doesn’t mean it’s terrible, it just means it’s good, not great.
“Pristina” rounds out the album at song number twelve. We have a slow song here but it’s a rocker as we have some long, drawn out guitars as well as a long count on the drums with symbol crashes every so often. Patton’s voice is almost at a whisper like he’s reading someone a beautiful poem from his deathbed. The composition of the song is good as it doesn’t get to heavy or to sappy. The pace of it is good as Patton sings well on other parts of the song. The guitars continue to draw out which allows Patton to come in now and again with his cryptic, wispy sayings.
Overall, a superb album. I don’t know why so many are down on this but if your looking for something new to listen to that explores several different sounds and themes and covers everything from Funk Metal to Punk and everything in between, look no further than Faith no More. They are a band that will forever be underrated and always missed by it’s fans around the globe.