I realize that this is probably the album responsible for much of the dreaded nu-metal phenomenon, but it is still one of my all-time favorites.
The Real Thing was the first FNM release to feature Mike Patton on vocals, and he made quite an impact, as did the band when they released the single and video for the song Epic. This will always be the song that people associate with the band. Anthrax may have tried to fuse rap and metal with “I’m the Man”, but it was too goofy to be anything but a novelty. Faith No More took the idea much more seriously, and as a result Epic was a major hit and an inspiration for many bands that followed, from Korn to Pain of Salvation.
Despite the impression Epic gave, the Real Thing was not really a rap-metal album. It was something exciting and new. I suppose if it had been released in 1992 it would have been called alternative. It had elements of rap, punk, and obviously plenty of metal, but there was also something eclectic and offbeat about the music. It wasn’t totally experimental and bizarre – that would better describe the band’s follow up album Angel Dust.
The albums best tracks are right in the middle, with the 8-minute title track, Underwater Love, and the Morning After. These are all impressive and powerful songs, and show that the band had more to offer than just a rap-metal single. Another album highlight is the cover of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. I’ve heard a lot of Sabbath covers, but this is one of the best.
The band picked up a lot of fans with this album, but over the course of their next few releases would shake off all but the die-hards as each album got progressively weirder.
No matter what you may think of nu-metal, it is impossible to deny the impact Faith No More had with the Real Thing. It’s an impressive album, a powerful album, and an album that should be in every metal fan’s collection.