Faith No More. Three words guaranteed to provoke some sort of response, either a numb-brained “oh yeah, the hip-hop metal band”, or an informed “the very eclectic gentlemen musicians”. Having garnered an international reputation on the back of ‘The Real Thing’, the pressure was on the band to deliver an album of literally stadium proportions. And they did, but with a superbly oblique sense of humour, and an amazing mastery of melody. Starting with the sinister circus dance of ‘Land Of Sunshine’, complete with fortune-cookie/Church of Scientology lyrics, and ending with an inspired cover of the theme from the film ‘Midnight Cowboy’, Angel Dust never once ceases to amaze and enthrall in equal measure. Mike Patton (without doubt the most talented vocalist of his generation ; how many opera singers can also do grindcore growls?) displays his supremely capricious style with a personality unique to music, and it would be a fair assessment to say that Faith No More would be half the band they are without his prodigious creativity. Not to take away from their collectively fantastic musicianship, but Mike really brings the songs to life. ‘Caffeine’ displays the then-revolutionary song structure taken for granted these days by the ‘nu-metal’, but none of the new faux-psychos (the nearest would be Corey from Slipknot) can quite match Mike’s unnerving appeals to ‘relax, it’s just a phase’, nor can they open up such a song into the multi-dimensional masterpiece that it is. But Caffeine is nothing compared to the following track ‘Midlife Crisis’. Quite simply genius. Mike gibbering his lyrics over a classic FNM keyboard line, with a suitably hypnotic drum tattoo and bass line underscoring Jim Martin’s 70’s riffs succeeds in constructing a timeless song for the ages. The epic sounding ‘Smaller and Smaller’ incorporates Native Indian chanting alongside Beavis and Butthead laughing in perfect harmony. The poppy sounding ‘Everything’s ruined’ gives a chart single with a social conscience. ‘Malpractice’ bears the distinctive mantle of being one of the few songs in the world that incorporates almost every kind of music in the world into a sub-4 minute song about a patient’s fetish for having surgeon’s hands inside her body. Quite how they managed this considerable feat only proves their vast abilities. ‘Be Aggressive’ charts the progress of a homosexual act, except that there is a cheerleader chant in the background, which you will be humming to yourself for days. ‘A Small Victory’ yields yet another potential single, complete with Michael Jackson-esque whooping scattered throughout. The James Bond stylings of ‘Crack Hitler’ could really be used as the soundtrack to a spy film, and the lyrics have nothing to do with drugs, except for the spoken word bit near the end. The last FNM song on the album, ‘Jizzlobber’ is a truly psychotic work, with frenetic keyboards playing around the processed riff, and Mike giving it hell with some seriously powerful vocal work. Metallica fans will notice the similarity between the middle bit of this song, and ‘One’. As either an ode to masturbation, or just celebration in general, it ends with a camply-epic orchestral finale, truly a Faith No More moment. The albums influence on later bands (particularly the so-called ‘nu-metal’)was immeasurable, but in terms of quality it is far in excess of any of them. Some called this Faith No More’s final classic moment, but as much as I agree that it is a classic, FNM were consistent to the bitter, yet paradoxical end. It’s a damned shame that they are gone. The world will be a less fun place without them.