'Angel Dust' 28 Years - Critical Review
Faith No More's album Angel Dust found extensive critical acclaim when it was released in 1992.
Here are a collection of reviews from major music publications all over the world.
Q Magazine | June 1992 | Peter Kane
Nobody could accuse Faith No More of having had an easy ride. Formed as long ago as 1982, the San Francisco quintet were going precisely nowhere for a good five years until the caustic, lurching attack of We Care A Lot began to attract attention, especially in Europe. Everybody agreed they sounded pretty damned heavy without quite deciding on a convenient pigeon hole. Funk metal?
That'll do, even if it's now a little wide of the mark. But just when fortune seemed finally set to rise, out went charismatic vocalist Chuck Mosley, and in stepped a brattish, all Californian boy called Mike Patton. It could have been back to square one. Instead the decision was vindicated by 1989's The Real Thing, an album of unnerving power that eventually went on to sell by the million, thanks initially to word of mouth before the band's endless capacity for covering the globe and the two gargantuan singles, Epic and From Out Of Nowhere, took over. Angel Dust is just that bit bigger and better than what they've managed before.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge in the last three years -not least the coming of Nirvana-but as Metallica have more than proved, there's still bags of room at the top for exponents of machine drilled fusillades of bulking great noise. If that alone is the yardstick. Faith No More need have no fears.
Caffeine and Smaller And Smaller offer the most obvious homage to those masters of the mega dirge and thrash, while Malpractice leans more to hardcore slaughter. Elsewhere, though they stalk a terrain that is now recognisably their own. The thunderous chords, looping bass and psychotic keyboards of land Of Sunshine, Kindergarten and Midlife Crisis have Fatten babbling away persuasively, almost against the momentum of the songs. The lyrical niceties may be buried in the sheer density of the mix but this hardly matters as the Juggernaut rolls impressively on.
Patton, in fact, earns his keep throughout, whether it's the crunchy rapping of Be Aggressive, the straighter delivery required on Everything's Ruined and Small Victory or even an unlikely Tom Waits bar-stool mumble on something called RV. Of the 13 tracks on offer, only Crack Hitler fails to really gel, leaving the wistful theme from Midnight Cowboy to sign off the set in perhaps the most incongruous way imaginable, especially after the extra strengthen Jizzlobber has gone about its bludgeoning business. If Faith No More were once one of those bands to be cared for more in principle than in the cold light of day, Angel Dust finally lays that ghost to rest. This is tightly constructed noise on the grand scale that bellies its simple metal calling. It's loud, it's aggressive and, like any rock record worth its salt, it excites at the most instinctive level. Their time has surely come.
Melody Maker | June 1992 | Simon Reynolds
NEVER liked them, and still don't "like" them, if you know what I mean. Faith No More's dominant emotion seems to be sarcasm, a sardonic, gloating reveling in the shiny side of life. They're retards, nasty little boys probing a finger in the gooey innards of reality, driven by a sort of gynecological nihilism. Like all adolescent nihilists, they project their feelings of
worthlessness and self-loathing outwards, onto the world. But "Epic" was undeniable- pop Nietzche, the latest take on the "we want the world and we want it now/ don't know what I want but I know how to get it" rock tradition of impossible demands and limitless desire.
The video for "Epic", with its Darwinesque life/death struggle imagery suggested that a corrosive intelligence was at work, as did such twisted, sick-f*** statements as Patton's "Masturbation is a lot easier to do than relating to someone... With sex, no matter how great is is, there's always something missing".
And "Angel Dust" is just immense. Imagine "Never Mind The Bollocks", produced by Brian May, if Steve Jones had grown up on Sabbath and King Crimson rather than The Faces. Pomp rock motored by punk disgust. Symphonic bombast, scrofulous with detail.
Visionary venom, misanthropic majesty, grotesque grandeur Aesthetically and philosophically, "Angel Dust" is profoundly, putridly offensive, but I keep coming back to it, like a scab.
The outstanding element here is Mike Patton's voices, which I find skin-scrawlingly repellent and endlessly mesmerising, Patton is multi-tracked into a myriad. maggoty throng, or, within songs, flits between schizoid array of idioms: baroque histrionics,"soulful", slimy croon, punk declamation, funk-metal sneer, not to mention his menagerie of hiccups, belches, yodels, mewling and poking. On "Midlife Crisis", he starts with a snide, sibilant rap, swoons upward in a jazzy, Al Jarreau-ish arc, then slugs it out in a close combat cut and thrust that's pure hardcore. The lyrics lash and lambaste some middle class, lard-ass, play-safe type who's built up a cocoon of security and comfort (key negative concepts in the FNM world view). The line "Your menstruating heart" - doubtless aimed at "wet liberals" and people who profess to care a lot- is deeply revealing. For FNM, feelings of tenderness,empathy and solidarity are threatening, female and fluid, o loathsome discharge. "R.V." is a waltz-time spoof-monologue by a redneck reactionary whose final words to his kids are "What my daddy fold me 'You ain't never gonna amount to nothin'". On "Smaller And Smaller", Patton's a funk-metal Billy Mackenzie, surfing a sturm-und-drang that abates briefly for a ghostly interlude of sampled Aboriginal chant, before Patton lets loose this amazing arc of wordless aria. "Everything's Ruined" is sort of Black Flag meets Aha, objection and uplift; FNM make a melodrama out of a (ecological?) crisis. "Malpractice" again recalls mid-period Black Flag, although Patton's singing is closer to the hardcore seat of Bad Brains' H.R.; an almost Julee Cruise interlude and maddened Balkan strings make this the most outre prog-metal since side two of "Ritual De Lo Habitual". "Kindergarten" has the most unsettling, ghastly / gorgeous chorus; the song seems to imagine the adult world as no real advance on the unbridled State Of Nature that is unsocialised infancy, still populated with bullies, sycophants, geeks and outcasts. Patton wonders " When will I graduate?" (to a higher kind of life-form). "Be Aggressive" could be a cartoon anthem for Nietzsche's will-to-power, complete with a chorus chanted by cheerleaders, but it's hard to tell: throughout the album, diction is not one of Patton's priorities, and the vocals are buried in the garish murk of FNM's sound. "Crack Hitler" jump-cuts from torrid funk to a Gary Glitter stomp- "Jizz-Lobber" is a grueling Sabbath grind, Patton's apoplectic fit of vocal fed through a fuzz unit and sounding more like a guitar than a larynx. Finally, one moment of unalloyed; sentimentality, a straight and rather stiff reading of John Barry's sublimely melancholic "Midnight Cowboy". But maybe this is a sick joke too.
If 1992 is the year that punk finally happened in the US, if Nirvana are the Pistols, L7 are the Ramones and Hole are The Slits, then Faith No More are.. . The Stranglers, a bunch of fundamentally unsound, misogynist, misanthropic, crypto-muso interlopers who have profited from the perennial male teenage consumer demand for nastiness and menace. A gust of sour breath that feels strangely fragrant to me.
Raw | June 1992 | Liz Evans
IT TAKES a subtle touch of genius to maintain a true identity and create a new dimension at the same time. Faith No More, a band comprised of absolute oddballs, evidently possess this genius, which is no doubt also responsible for their eccentricities. 'Angel Dust', their third album, and their second with singer Mike Patton, is a step on, rather than a step away, from their 1989 release,'The Real Thing', keeping the blasts of power and the witty style, and adding a whole new range of influences, a smattering at a time. Opening with the almighty 'Land Of Sunshine', a fairly traditional (in Faith No More terms that is) energy overdose, packed with keyboard highs, it isn't until the third track, 'Midlife Crisis' that things begin to twist into a new kind of melody. The difference lies in the tunefulness, the variety of styles within the song elements we've come to know and love with this band, but not to this degree. Before they've always been overshadowed by the weight and the volume, the sheer density. Now Roddy Bottum delights in lamenting intros ('Everything's Ruined'), zappy organ bursts ('Small Victory'), and peculiar electronic dance effects ('Malpractice'), Jim Martin leaps between 70s' cop soundtrack guitar ('Crack Hitler'), and witty emotional solos, ("Everything's Ruined'), and Mike Patton exhibits his truly perverted nature on 'Be Aggressive'
(which also features a bunch of chanting kids), slipping into the role of Country and Western slob on 'RV and mourning the fact of growing up on 'Kindergarten'. This album is an altogether impeccable display of character, imagination, humour, and a whole spectrum of musical genres wrapped up in the formidable power Faith No More are masters of. All
you have to do is buy it.
Rock power | June 1992 | Mark Day
Faith No More recently declared Right Said Fred to be their favourite band - if the Freds' slaphead singer is to be believed. A timely reminder that FNM are old hands at being wilfully awkward buggers, and sarcastic with it.
Any other band breaking through as convincingly as FNM did with 'The Real Thing' might have been tempted to play safe and consolidate, but these malcontents seem more interested in seeing how far they can mix and match their warring elements, goading the listener at every turn. 'RV could be one of Tom Waits' dirty-old-man ditties, while side two's 'Malpractice' is some sort of twisted death metal prog-rock confusion. Meanwhile, the bouncy 'Be Aggressive' crams in chanting cheerleaders and groovy guitar and keyboards swiped from Isacc Hayes' 'Shaft'. That, by the way, is as funky as they get - 'funk metal' tag has always been a complete misnomer as far as FNM are concerned - they're more rhythm kings than funk fetishists. Having been burned first with Chuck Mosley and then with Mike Patton's storm-in-apint-glass Mr Bungle, FNM are resolutely as much to do with Puffy's tribal poundings or Billy Gould's slabs of bass-thing as they are to do with vocals, all of which makes this as thick with bizarre textures as a particularly well stocked carpet warehouse. Faith No More were doing this kind of stuff long before pissing around with the fundamental rock recipe was a guaranteed career move Electric Sun, Liquid Jesus and Electric Love Hogs, take note! and, basically, they do it so much better than most. Angels with dirty faces in the area!
NME | June 1992 | Keith Cameron
THE ENGLISH may have invented cynicism but, as with everything else, America has taken the concept and blown it out of all proportion. You want proof? Look at the election campaign, where Bush and Clinton have been usurped by an anti-politician boasting that he has "no policies . Or look at Faith No More, where an ill-matched band of misfits crank out blasphemous takes on Metal, funk, disco, Country, jazz . . . you name the generic sacred cow, hell, Faith No More have used and abused it for their own dubious ends. 'We Care A Lot'? Sure they do . . .
And listen to 'Angel Dust', FNM's most outrageous grubby-faced smirk at the outside world yet. It's safe to say this is not the album their bank manager must have been . gleefully anticipating after 'The Real Thing', 'Epic' and a certifiable touring schedule had broken the band on to the MTV-sponsored popcorn circuit. Short on leadweighted, riffed-up chant-alongs and bursting with manic, nay, schizophrenic musical abandon, this is that most dangerous of items - the album we always-wanted-to-make album. In other words it's self-indulgent, messy, frequently incoherent and no doubt loses a lot in translation out of FNM's private domain. It's incredible, then, that 'Angel Dust' is as very good as it very often is. Expect the unexpected and you'll breeze it The curtain-raising 'Land Of Sunshine', with its symphonic strut and Roddy Bottum's garish keyboard trills, is pomp-rock as pedalled by a bunch of scornful, snotty kids. Tellingly, evil laughter buttresses the track and, as with the bulk of what follows, it's clear that Mike Patton has cemented his place in this most unforgiving of gangs by adding an impressive repertoire of voices to his original hack Metal whine. Clapped out crooner, hillbilly rasp, the odd basso profundo . . . the freaked-out geek skatekid's become a one-man karaoke machine indeed, 'RV's cocktail slouch could almost be a cruel Tom Waits parody-and this new depth to the vox manual goes a long way in explaining 'Angel Dust's compulsive flair.
As 'Caffeine' and 'Malpractice' demonstrate, Faith No More can still crunch metal on to bone as horribly as anyone who chooses to disagree. Yet this is rock with vomit stains down its front and 'Angel Dust' really buzzes when FNM marry their sharp pop nous to the good ol' kitchen sink recording technique. 'Mid-life Crisis' is an itchy toed groover, built from a sample of Simon & Garfunkel's 'Cecilia', while 'Everything's Ruined' advances on a relentless bass keyboard momentum, via Jim Martin's cool axe solo, to the song's resigned, satisfying denouement.
'Be Aggressive', though, is the hysterical masterstroke, a brilliant scratch-funk celebration of cock-sucking" You're the master and I'll take it on my knees/ Ejaculation, tribulation/I swallow, I swallow, / SWALLOW!!!" that has a bunch of school-kids rapping out the chorus. Yup, Faith No More in up front pro-gay sex statement shocker!
Just to settle once and for all that these cynical bastards can apparently do the lot, 'Angel Dust' closes with a perfectly respectful rendering of John Barry's 'Midnight Cowboy'. Laugh? You've got to, really. Faith No More don't care at all.
Kerrang! | May 1992 | Don Kaye
I CAN'T quite figure out how I feel about the new Faith No More album. It's been driving me schizophrenic, and slowly I've realised why: the album is possessed of a personality disorder, of sorts, which undermines its potential greatness. On 'The Real Thing', FNM reached a peak of immensely
infectious pop songs in Metallic, often twisted jackets of sound and attitude. The result was so refreshing that they started a whole goddamn trend. I have no doubt that now, FNM want to avoid starting or following any new trends. The problem is that 'Angel Dust' catches the band unsure of whether they want to concentrate on great songs or quirkiness.
A lot of 'Angel Dust' is hjt-or-miss. 'Be Aggressive' is a punchy, anthemic groove-rocker with a kinky cheerleader chorus and chunky, bad-ass guitar work. 'Small Victory' features an absolutely beautiful melody line from gyitarist Jim Martin and wistful vocals from Mike Patton.lt's; a powerful gem of a rock song and, like 'Be Aggressive', one of the hits.
The misses are painfully pointless: the Tom Waits imitation on 'RV and the ultimately mundane noisefests that drag down the last quarter of the album, 'Crack Hitler' and 'Jizzlobber'. These are tracks that go so out of their way to be weird that they lose sight of strong arrangements or texture and just wallow in their own damage. Likewise, 'Malpractice' seems like a bunch of ominous riffs thrown together for little more than shock effect.
There's still plenty to recommend on 'Angel Dust', however, including Roddy Bottum's rich, trademark keyboards which add welcome depth even to the weaker songs. Patton continues to don multiple disguises and finds a wider range, although he sometimes goes too much off in the deep end for his own good.
In fact, the individual musicians all deliver stand-out performances. Faith No More must be applauded for being one of the most innovative rock bands of the past decade, and for their unrelenting quest to be as diverse and unique as possible. They also deserve kudos for not taking the easy way out this time by knocking off another 'Epic'. Nevertheless, even the groundbreakers hit rough spots. This is just one that Faith No More will doubtless overcome.
All Music | Ned Raggett
In 1992, Warner Bros. figured that lightning could strike twice at a time when oodles of (mostly horribly bad) funk-metal acts were following in Faith No More and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' footsteps. They sent the former into the studio, where they went in, recorded, and released a bizarro masterpiece. Mike Patton's work in Mr. Bungle proved just how strange and inspired he could get given the opportunity, and with that try-anything-once spirit now brought to his similarly minded colleagues in his more famous act, nothing was ignored. "Land of Sunshine" starts things off in a similar enough vein to The Real Thing, but Patton's vocal role-playing comes out as smarter and more accomplished, with the lyrics trashing a totally smug bastard with pure inspired mockery. From there, Angel Dust steps up the meta-metal of earlier days with the expected puree of other influences, further touched by an almost cinematic sense of storming atmosphere. The fact that the album ends with a cover of John Barry's "Midnight Cowboy" suits the mood perfectly, but the stretched-out, tense moments on "Caffeine" and the soaring charge of "Everything's Ruined" makes for other good examples. A Kronos Quartet sample even crops up on the frazzled sprawl of "Malpractice." Other sampling and studio treatments come to the fore throughout, not in a specifically hip-hop/techno-oriented way, but more as strange cutups and additional quirks, such as the distorted voices on "Smaller and Smaller." The band's sense of humor crops up more than once -- there's the hilarious portrayal of prepubescent angst on "Kindergarten," made all the more entertaining by the music's straightforward approach, or the beyond-stereotypical white trash cornpone narration of "RV," all while the music breezily swings along. Patton's voice is stronger and downright smooth at many points throughout, the musicians collectively still know their stuff, and the result is twisted entertainment at its finest.
Rolling Stone | 1992
Does emotional music have quite an effect on you?" asks singer Mike Patton on "Land of Sunshine," the first track on Faith No More's astonishing new album. That question is the perfect tag line for Angel Dust, a roiling, musically adventurous record that represents yet another leap forward for a combo that broke through by cramming together rap's vocal cadences, metal's brute force and progressive rock's pompous keyboards on "Epic," the hit single from its 1989 album The Real Thing.
One thing's certain: Success hasn't made Faith No More complacent. From the art-damaged death metal of "Malpractice" and "Jizzlobber" to the madman-with-a-megaphone vocals on "Crack Hitler," the bizarre Tin Pan Alley/country hybrid "RV" and the jarring use of offbeat samples ("Smaller and Smaller" features an aboriginal chant), Angel Dust fairly explodes with the sound of genres colliding. The group once again shared production chores with Matt Wallace, and from the sound of things, the game plan was to create a rock equivalent to the dense soundscapes pioneered by the Bomb Squad, Public Enemy's aptly named production team.
Well, they succeeded. Angel Dust burns with an unholy intensity. One could quibble about the indecipherability of Patton's vocals, but he gets his point across more through attitude than literal meaning. A perusal of the lyric sheet sheds much heat and some light on matters, revealing a lot of opaque Beat poesy concerning stuff like the cyclical nature of parental failure and homosexual sadomasochism as a metaphor for God knows what, but titles like "Caffeine," "MidLife Crisis," "Everything's Ruined" and "Be Aggressive" pretty much clue you in as to where Patton's coming from.
The album closes with an accordion-propelled version of John Barry's "Midnight Cowboy," its pensive melody providing a soothing contrast to the nerve-frazzling apocalyptic rock that precedes it. Angel Dust is Faith No More's most challenging effort to date. Those brave enough to sample its musical wares will be rewarded with a listening experience that's thoroughly exhilarating, absolutely mood altering and completely addictive.
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