Faith No More were masters of bad timing. the San Francisco quintet released the groundbreaking “Angel Dust” in 1992, just as the Seattle grunge trend was peaking. you never heard “everything’s ruined” on the radio or saw “midlife crisis” on MTV.
so it’s no surprise that, ten years after its release, “King for Day…” continues to line the discount bins in used CD stores.
KFAD was released as the sound embodied by bands like nirvana and soundgarden was giving way to more-polished imitators like candlebox and, um, soundgarden.
that’s not to say KFAD fit into any category; indeed, Faith No More defied categorization more than any other band at the time, save perhaps Primus. but where Angel Dust took a turn for the funky, KFAD is Faith No More’s rawest, most intricate, punked-out
release. and it does more than stand the test of time — it gets better with each listen.
credit for the departure largely goes to the guitar work of trey spruance, singer mike patton’s comrade in mr. bungle (another overlooked band). spruance, who was in the band only during the recording of KFAD and was out by the time it they went on tour, brings jazz inflections to FNM’s characteristic hard-edged riffs — something his predecessor, jim martin, would not or could not do. the rest of the band followed spruance’s lead.
what you get is a potpourri of genres in one tightly-wound, coherent album, the ingenuity of which has yet to be repeated.
KFAD shocks the listener with the hard-rocker openers, “get out” and “ricochet,” then flows into to the old-school R-and-B of “evidence.” before you know it, it’s on to the big-band ensemble of “Star A.D.” then on to the schizoid thrash of “cuckoo for caca.”
KFAD takes a breather with the lounge-lizard smoothness of “caralho vaodor” before jumping back into the fray with “ugly in the morning” and “digging the grave.”
the only weak point on the album is the ballad that follows, “take this bottle.” but it’s not a bad song, just misplaced. and it’s easy to skip because next up is the title track “king for a day.”
this song is, in this fan’s humble opinion, as close to perfect a rock song as one can get. it starts with a basic but propulsive accoustic chord progression paired with a simple keyboard melody and soon folds out into a gloriously cacophonous layering of metal guitar riffage and tribal beats before coming back down to earth and hauntingly fading out. through it all is mike patton giving the performance of his career — and that’s saying a lot, considering his stellar vocal achievements before and since KFAD.
the album wraps up with “just a man,” with its quirky reggae beat and glorious use of a gospel choir to match patton’s poetry.
after KFAD, Faith No More put out one more album, the wryly titled “Album of the Year,” before calling it quits in 1998. while heavy and splendid in its own right, Album of the Year did not come close to the brilliance of “King for a Day…”
nor has any other band since then. so rush out to the nearest CD Warehouse and make a B-line to the “F” division of the Rock/Pop section, pay the seven or nine dollars and bask in “King for a Day…Fool for a Lifetime.”