'Album Of The Year' 23 - Critical Review
Updated: Jun 2
Faith No More's album Album of the Year found extensive critical acclaim when it was released in 1997.
In case you didn't know, Faith No More was on the verge of a splitting Just a few months ago. After 15 years and seven albums, they were going to call it a day. The members were going to set out for greener pastures, take time off to travel Europe and maybe even find themselves in the process. Over. Done. Kaput. At feast that's what the music industry gossip mongers thought. 'There has been speculation that the band was going to breakup ever since our first album," laughs bassist Billy Gould, who with keyboardist Roddy Bottum and drummer Mike Bordin started the San Francisco outfit in 1982. "There have been points every year for the past 10 years where it looked like the band might not go on. It happens once every six weeks."
Not that the breakup rumors were entirely unfounded. What with vocalist Mike Patton devoting a heap of time to completing his second solo album and touring with Mr. Bungle, Bottum starting up Imperial Teen and Bordin playing with metal veteran Ozzy Osboume, what was any concerned fan to think?
Sure, various band members took time off to work on some of their personal projects, but after a)! those things had run their course everyone was ready to come back home to Faith No More, refreshed and ready to make another record. Judging by the explosive material on its seventh disc, Album of the Year, Faith No More is in rare form. Tempering the aggressive urgency of its last record, 1995's King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime, the band returns to the splashy melodies and big sonic themes of its past work — 1989's double-platinum The Real Thing, 1992's gold Angel Dust — with its latest outing.
Here are a collection of reviews from major music publications all over the world.
NME | Issue June 1997 | John Perry
POO! WHAT A SCORCHER!
Wipe that shit-eating grin off your mouth. No, on second thoughts, show us every one of those Colgate-shy dentures because ol' brown tongue is back. And he's as mad as a brush that eats it's own shit. No surprise there then. What is a very pleasant surprise is that this seventh FNM LP ever made it out of the khazi.
Fifteen, yes, that's 15 years down the line, it looked like it was all over for the San Fran rock-rap-funk behemoths.
After the stripped-to-the-pine pinging-tendon angerfest of 1995's 'King For A Day Fool For A Lifetime', it seemed like FNM had come to the end of the line. Bassist Billy Gould buggered off to Moscow, Mike Patton began wailing in hideous thrashfunkers Mr Bungle,Roddy Bottum was plonking away at the back of dreamy indie rockers Imperial Teen and Mike Bordin was riding the adjustable drum stool of Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train. Down to hell,presumably.
Was it time to hang up the combat kecks,remove the sphincter rings and wash the vegetable dye out of the hair?
Were Faith, erm, No More?
NO GODDAMN IT!! They're back and their nostrils are flaring like a randy bull on a winter morning. At least, it starts that way. 'Collision' is a red-faced return to the epic, Tonka toy-smashing glories of 'The Real Thing'; loads of uncalled-for shouting and big, sweaty faces happily getting punched in the pit. Just like the good old days. Lovely. 'Stripsearch', however, does an illegal blaring horn U-turn and we're back in the Midnight Cowboy-loving days of 'Crack Hitler'. Ver More instantly turn into Marillion. But in a good way. Loose, swoozy guitar that sounds like it was recorded in the middle of Monument Valley lap against wave-smooth trip-hop rhythms while Mikey Boy screams about The Big Torch. Nice. And we're only two tracks in. 'Album Of The Year' ia a stepladder slamdunk return to form, encompassing all of FNM's Bullworker-mangling strengths in 12 fizzy tracks. There's the screaming-into-the-wind sulphur-riffs of the splendidly-titled 'Naked In Front Of The Computer' (the best bits of the Chuck Mosely years), the robo-vocals and funk-spikiness of 'The Last Cup Of Sorrow' (the 'Angel Dust' years) or the epic ferocity of 'Ashes To Ashes' (it sounds like 'From Out Of Nowhere'!).
But even this collection of great moments has some really Great, Great moments; when FNM get really weird.
Like when 'Mouth To Mouth''s wonky Arabian merry-go-round goes spinning into the candy floss stall or when Patton turns into the satanic Lionel Richie on 'She Loves Me Not', crooning, "On Your Knees!" across the Starlight Rooms. Magic. Wouldn't want to French kiss them, but for once the tongue-in-cheek title is a review in itself.
Kerrang! | KKKK | Liam Sheils
ODD MEN OUT
AN ENIGMA wrapped in a mystery inside a conundrum.
By turns brilliant, frustrating and bloody awful, Faith No More are an almost uniquely mercurial talent. We were first introduced by 'We Care A Lot', which still stands alongside 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and not much else as possibly the most cataclysmic-ally significant four minutes of rock music from the last two decades. A couple of years later, 'The Real Thing' brought with it a new singer, a bigger sound and a massive breakthrough. It made an awful lot of rock stars unemployed and unemployable. 'Angel Dust' arrived in '92. Weird, in a word, with moments of unalloyed genius and moments of nothing at all.
Rather like the last one, 'King For A Day... Fool For A Lifetime', in fact, where stripped-down hardcore tussled violently with avant-garde silliness.
It's been a long, strange ride, for sure, and Faith No More have f**ked with us all along the way; witness the deadpan reading of The Commodores' 'Easy', the ousting of metal icon Jim Martin, Mike Patton's unbearable Mr Bungle offshoot. Now, with new guitarist John Hudson on board - their fourth in as many years - Faith No More are back to f**k with us some more.
'Album Of The Year' holds no quick fixes and no instant hits. 'Collision' is first out of the traps; jerking, jarring, hard-hitting metal overload. It jumps around like a frog on a hot plate, never letting you settle, giving you no clues where it's going, and setting the mood perfectly for the rest of the album. 'Stripsearch' is next, a supremely atmospheric chunk of sci-fi funk that succeeds despite the lack of any discernible chorus because it sounds just fantastic. Young Gods producer Roll Mosimann has worked his usual magic here, 'Album Of The Year' sounding so good that even if there wasn't a sniff of a decent melody anywhere (which is always a risk with Faith No More) you'd still come back to it time and time again to marvel at the full-blooded luxuriance of the thing. Happily, the wondrous 'Last Cup Ot Sorrow', with its relentless riff offset beautifully by a delicate cowbell effect, more than makes up for any deficit in tunes elsewhere. And the weeping 'She Loves Me Not' hits the target with Roddy Bottum's piano, Mike Patton's broken heart, and not a lot else. And then there's the stuttering 'Mouth To Mouth', all bare, percussive antagonism, which sounds just like a left-over form the 'Introduce Yourself sessions; 'Helpless' brings in a new flavour for Faith No More by sitting on top of a lilting acoustic strum; and album closer 'Pristina' crashes in with a series of guitar eruptions before opening out into a melodic plateau that is reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins at their shimmering, psychedelic best. It's hard work in places, certainly, but you don't buy into Faith No More expecting Bon Jovi - 'Paths Of Glory' is going to take months to make any sense, and 'Home Sick Home' is plain old bollocks. Maybe not album of the year then, but undoubtedly a strong contender. And an unexpectedly forceful 'hello' from an act many thought were all washed up.
METAL HAMMER | Issue June 1997 | 4.5 / 5 | Dan Silver
YOU have to admire the cheek of them, don't you? An album title like that is asking for trouble, even if the material to back it up is up to scratch; it's a joke that's just begging to be shot down in ridicule. Yet, somehow, if anybody was to get away with it, Faith No More would. We've come to expect it from them.
We've also come to expect great rambling adventures of albums, increasingly eclectic over the years, wildly ricocheting from one genre to the next, one mood to another, without the slightest interest in convention or, perhaps more pertinently, what their old fans want to hear. Now I was one of the alleged few who quite enjoyed 'King For A Day...', but it would appear that! was in a decided minority. Thus, the news that 'Album Of The Year' resembles that offering more than any other FNM release is not likely to be greeted with whoops of unbridled joy from those still clutching their copies of 'The Real Thing'.
However, Faith No More's variety is essentially their biggest asset. The fact that they can smoothly slip from the angsty and pooping bass of opener 'Collision' into the sublimely louche lounge soul of 'Strip Search', get moodily atmospheric with "Ashes To Ashes' and then twistedly rev it up with "Naked In Front Of My Computer' in the space of four songs is what keeps them so fresh and appealing in this age of formulated cack.
As ever, Mike Patton dominates the album, his vocal talents, often overshadowed by his scatological media antics, taking occasionally ordinary tunes and ideas into outlandish realms of fantasy. Whether he's crooning on the delightfully cheesy 'She Loves Me Not' or coming over like a schizophrenics' convention on the likes of 'Helpless', Patton's performance inconsistently compelling. The fact that he has a damn good voice when he puts his mind to it is something he's not often credited for, but Mike is arguably one of America's finest vocalists, capable of transforming a mood with a subtle (or, quite often, anything but subtle! change of character or tone.
Despite the odd nod to the past ('Mouth To Mouth' sounds almost like a subtle pastiche of the early FNM sound), 'Album Of The Year' is another huge step forward for the band. The finest rock bands, from Led Zeppelin to Jane's Addiction and all points in between, have always been innovators, never afraid to mix it up generically. Faith No More have often been hoisted by that particular petard and although in the past they have missed as often as they've hit, the time has come to praise them for it instead. Perhaps not "Album Of The Year', but certainly up there.
CMJ | Issue July 1997 | Scott Frampton
Faith No More is on its fourth guitarist in five years. Drummer Mike Bordin is off playing with Ozzy half of the time:singer Mike Patton has Mr.Bungle and adds his yelp to the occasional John Zorn project: and keyboardist Roddy Bottum plays guitar with the critically lauded Imperial Teen. That this band still even exists is amazing enough. So what does Faith No More do? Goes ahead and names its record "Album Of The Year". The sick thing is that it may have a point. The band's strange amalgam of sounds has always had a strange audacity to it anyway, and the complete "fuck it" attitude serves it well here: this is the sound of a band going out swinging, and while not every haymaker connects, the punches are levelling. Patton barks like a Touretter one minute and croons like John Raitt the next; the beats seduce your hips into a sway only to later pummel you off-balance. The record's best pop songs ("Last Cup Of Sorrow" and "Ashes to Ashes") are stomach-quickeningly pensive, but the choruses are rousing and anthemic enough to make you hoist a lighter in appreciation. "Album Of The Year" is an impossibility of a record, fraught with a panic-attack tension that releases itself only in moments of utter fury and twisted beauty, which, somehow, makes it's title seem plausible.
VOX | Issue June 1997 | 9/10 | Jerry Ewing
COOL FOR A LIFETIME.
BLOODY HELL. You're only two songs into Faith No More's cheekily titled sixth studio album and they're already getting lippy. But not without just cause- because the traits that propelled them to the forefront of the alternative metal scene in the early 90s, traits that were sadly lacking in 95's abrasive and unfriendly " King For A Day......Fool For A lifetime," have returned with a leery, louder, fucking weirder than the rest, and "Album Of The Year" finds them returning to these idiosyncratic strengths. They dredge up gigantic swatches of melody from the sort of netherworld other bands wouldn't dream of looking into. There's an immense sonic power that allows them to cut to the core with an accuracy that Johnny-come-latelys like Korn and White Zombie can't hope to achieve. That ability they once had- to step effortlessly from placid sweetness to frenetic, frenzied fury, and back again, within a simple chord change-is back. And, perhaps, most importantly, so is the warped sense of humour made their groundbreaking LP, " The Real Thing," so appealing in the first place. This is the grand plan to which "Album Of The Year" has been built. this revitalised approach as any. The former is a searing blast propelled by new guitarist John Hudson, embellished with an uptempo melodic twist, framing Mike Patton's trademark bellow. The latter opts for a much mellower approach, before assuming epic proportions with a foreboding lurch.
Yet " Album Of The Year" isn't just about two songs. It's the most consistently successful set that the San Franciscan band has conjured up since 1989. Memorable choruses explode out of nowhere. From within the slow building "Ashes To Ashes" rises one that finds Patton in top -rock god form. From the hulking bassline of " Last Cup Of Sorrow " belches another.
But this isn't a case of FNM simply returning to what they do best. Their sense of quirk remains unabated, whether they're leading the hushed, acoustic melody of "Helpless" to it's alarming conclusion with Patton's tortured cries of "help.....help....," or the juxtaposing punk rush of "Got That Feeling" with the soulful pop of "She Loves Me Not."
Mike Patton's restoration as a frontman of genius proportions is key to this record's success, but more importantly, this is a return to the form for the whole band as they finally manage to exorcise the spectre of the long-departed Jim Martin.
So " Album Of The Year," is it?
Well, it's sure to be up there among the frontrunners.
Contra Costa Times | May 1997 | ⋆⋆⋆
Nothing is off-limits for Faith No More. Fusionists in the most literal sense, the Bay Area quintet has always woven rock, rap, punk and jazz-with occasional forays into disco, R&B and even polka-into a fabric all their own.
It proved wildly successful and entertaining on "The Real Thing", the bands 1989 breakthrough album, and works again on "Album of the Year", available Tuesday.
"Album of the Year" is the band's 7th album and first since departure of founding guitarist Jim Martin (wrong!!). He's been replaced by Bay Area guitarist Jon Hudson, who proves he is a worthy replacement for the innovative and eclectic Martin.
The album also marks Faith No More's 15th anniversary and should quell persistent rumors-fuelled by vocalist Mike Patton's continued work with Mr. Bungle and Keyboardist Roddy Bottum's success with Imperial Teen-of an impending breakup.
More consistent than 1995's disappointing "King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime", "Album of the Year" is, by and large, a heavy metal album-that's where Faith No More succeeds. Songs such as "Collision" and "Last cup of Sorrow," with their crunching guitars and pounding bass and drums, blaze ahead with the speed and subtlety of a runaway freight train.
Other styles have been sprinkled in. "Got That Feeling" proves that Faith No More has the intensity of a punk band without the amateurish musicianship. "She Loves Me Not" ventures into R&B territory with Patton singing falsetto. That track, along with the soaring chorus of "Ashes To Ashes" and funky rhyming of "Helpless", highlight Patton's skills as a vocalist.
"Album of the Year" doesn't live up to it's tongue-in-cheek title, and there isn't anything terribly new or innovative in it's 12 songs, but the album proves that Faith No More remains one of the most eclectic and enjoyable metal bands around.
MTV | June 1997
No one ever accused Faith No More of false modesty. The band's first (and to date biggest) single was 1989's "Epic," a colossal but not inaccurate conceit. And even though the band hasn't been able to recreate that grand scale of success since -- at least in the charts -- it seems to have no problem wryly blowing its own horn with the new Album Of The Year.
While the validity of such a statement may warrant debate, there's no denying this is a remarkably fresh album for a band which has been together some 15 years and suffered more than a few growing pains. Lead singer Mike Patton continues his role as vocal chameleon, easily sliding from rap funkster to faux Bowie crooner to throat-thrashing metal man to near-jazz romantic. Long-lasting drummer Mike Bordin and bottom mate bassist Billy Gould are still one of this jumbled genre's best rhythm sections; keyboardist Roddy Bottom continues to deftly mix mock classic flourishes with smooth synthesizers; and the band's new guitarist Jon Hudson makes his presence decidedly known.
Thematically, the songs don't break much new ground: Patton is still obsessed with the weird, the awful, and the frequently dead, as in the non-revivable "Mouth To Mouth" and the cryptically shared "Last Cup Of Sorrow." "Epic"-like dimensions show up in "Paths of Glory" and the closing "Pristina," which sounds suspiciously if not sarcastically like Grand Funk Railroad's "Closer To Home/I'm Your Captain."
It's also clear that the success of new head-pounding youngsters like KORN and Rage Against The Machine hasn't been lost on FNM. "Naked In Front Of The Computer" angrily rails its fists against The Man and his devices and "Ashes To Ashes" has operatic finality deserving of a brass urn.
The band's light side is probably the most surprising aspect. "Stripsearch," despite the inherent brutality of the title, is almost ethereal, and "She Loves Me Not" is sunny enough to have been sung by the Rascals' Felix Cavaliere.
While it's clear Faith No More is trying to touch as many musical bases as it can in one CD, it manages to pull off the attempt with considerable aplomb. The harsh and heavy is evenly tempered by the lighter, more melodic material; the playing is inventive, and Patton, the band's chief instrument, has as many colors as a sideshow rainbow.
Whether anyone still wants to listen to Faith No More is another question. The band has been so associated with the song "Epic" that any further offerings have seemed to pale in comparison, not unlike the curse Steppenwolf suffered after "Born To Be Wild."
But this is a very listenable collection, and Faith No More deserves to be more than a one-hit wonder. Album of the Year is one to be proud of, no false modesty required.
San Francisco Chronicle | June 1997 | ⋆⋆⋆⋆
In naming its seventh release "Album of the Year," Faith No More might be attempting both self-congratulation and humor. Actually, the group may simply be telling the truth.
Since it's formation in 1982, the Bay Area quintet has been progressing consistently in its bid to make significant musical points. The band enjoyed multi platinum success with 1990's "The Real Thing" and the MTV hit "Epic," events that led to unfair comparisons to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In 1992, Faith released "Angel Dust," a stormy, dark and discordant collection of songs ahead of its time, despite the fact that it sold more than half a million copies in the United States. Its last effort, "King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime," saw the band struggling without guitarist Jim Martin and the virtual nonappearance of keyboardist Roddy Bottum. The stark, flat recording was poorly received.
Rumors started to circulate that the band would split up, as Bottum enjoyed success with fellow locals Imperial Teen, enigmatic vocalist Mike Patton embarked on a variety of projects and drummer Mike Bordin signed up to play with Ozzy Osbourne.
All this makes the mere existence of "Album of the Year" a solid achievement.
Faith No More's finest work always seems to come when the band is in turmoil; significantly, "Album of the Year" was not easy to make. In fact, two completely different sets of material had to be fashioned before the album was done.
Co-produced by Faith bassist Billy Gould and French producer Roli Mosiman (The The, Young Gods), "Album of the Year" has balance, poise, aggression and potential hits. Mike Patton's vocal work is outstanding, with genuine singing emerging from his more guttural bursts. Also, the welcome return of a more involved Bottum restores the full dimension of the band's sound.
Faith No More's trademarks appear subtly all over "Album of the Year": the little melodic flutter during the opening spaces of "Stripsearch," the dramatic keyboard platforms in the first single, "Ashes to Ashes," and the cheesiness of the smooth, soulful "She Loves Me Not."
The band also returns to the bitter aggression of some of its previous material. The thrust and demented melody of "Naked in Front of the Computer" and the ballistic energy of "Got That Feeling" both illustrate that Faith No More is still capable of a violent outburst or three. The musicians even manage a severely twisted late-night cocktail of a song, "Home Sick Home."
After "Album of the Year," it would be nothing short of criminal if the band decided to call it quits -- although it may be its refusal to take anything for granted that will allow Faith No More to continue making albums this good.