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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Melody Maker | October 31st 1992

David Fricke


GREAT encores of our time, No. 648:

Mike Patton wants the audience to sing.

Well, sort of. With all but keysman Roddy Bottum having shuffled off to dive into the backstage beer coolers; Patton leads the moshpit brutes and slacker gals up frontin in a spontaneous howl-a-long - 15 second bites of John Zornesque micro-thrash scored with nothing more than hamfisted mellotron chords by Bottum and a Patton: conducted roomful of "Aaaargh"! It's the Napalm Death Boys Choir come alive, the Moron Tabernacle Singers. But Patton is not satisfied. "C'mon, New York, you can do better than that!" He keeps em at it, really getting into his psycho-choirmaster gig, before finally signing off for the night. It's pointless, stupid, funny, spontaneous - what The rest of the evening should have been all along. More of it, anyway.

Helmet share the blame. As big winners in the post Nirvang record deal sweepstakes, they can't be held solely accountable for the A&R feeding frenzy that has mortally cheapened the grunge revolution. But over-expectation has done them no small damage. Too much greatness has been claimed, too soon, on their behalf.

Tonight, Helmet don't sound up to it.

They put out, no argument. But effort isn’t everything. Helmet's brief set is more depth

charge than rockets red glare.

Rumbles of Sabbath, Naked City and in Page Hamilton's vigorously searching guitar solos, Coltrane-ish avant-screech reverberate around the hall to numbing, but disappointingly monochromatic, effect. Helmet have their moments, abrupt mind grenades like "In The Meantime", "FBLA" and "Unsung". Yet the sum effect is impressive, but hardly recombinant, thunder. The shards of inspiration mostly fly out on one-way tickets and when the lights go up after only 30 minutes, even the moshers shrug and head for the back bars to wait out the intermission.

Faith No More don't take themselves half as seriously, no small blessing in a room suffocating in raging male normone musk. The high doofus quotient  is apparent from the get go: the band hit the stage, doing Jack LaLanne-style jumping jacks, to the intro-tape sound of really bad disco, like an aerobic Village People from Hell. And where Helmet's Page Hamilton stands at the mike, barking his heart out as if on trial for his life, Mike Patton howls and whines in a crazed ape-man crouch, energetically rebounding off the boards like some devolutionary Henry Rollins. They’re not afraid to poke fun at themselves either, or at least their kind.

"Have you seen Singles' yet?" snickers Bottum. "Last movie that made me cry. Patton retorts with wonderful insincerity. You pine for the Seventies?

Ne'er more, after they get done with a delightfully horrendous version of “Easy" by the Commodores. It wasn't all Kiss and Aerosmith back then, you'll recall.

But when you walk away remembering the comedy, not the crackle, something is amiss. It's probably just an off night. “The Real Thing” and “Angel Dust” are evidence that Faith No More refuse to subscribe to cheap grunge sensation.

Yet with notable exceptions -"Caffeine", "Be Aggressive", "Epic", a stunning "We Care A Lot" , still slammin' after all these years - the songs threaten to melt into mid tempo synth torpor, pomp rock without the circumstance. The encore is a big grough the big kick never really comes, We came to get damaged, and only got dusted. Well, there's always next time.

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