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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Metal Hammer | June 1997

METAL 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-uewrfa' 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.

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