Aside from a couple forgivable missteps following the departure of longtime guitarist and certified pumpkin farming champion Jim Martin, Faith No More pretty much rules, and they have ever since telling former vocalist Chuck Mosley to go fuck himself. In honor of their super sweet new album Sol Invictus, released this week via Reclamation Records/Ipecac Recordings, I…I mean, Mike Gatto, went back and listened to Faith No More’s entire Mike Patton-era catalogue and put together this comprehensive retrospective of their career for the benefit of our readers, some of whom may be sweet enough to care.
(EDITORIAL NOTE: If you don’t like Faith No More, you can always go listen to Guns ‘N Roses. I hear Chinese Democracy was pretty sweet.)
A note on the rating scale used in this article:
★★★★★ – A quasar of sweetness. The pinnacle of sweetness in the known universe.
★★★★☆ – Intergalactic super sweetness.
★★★★ – Super sweet.
★★★☆ – Could have been sweeter, but still pretty sweet.
★★★ – Sweet.
★★☆ – Kinda sweet, but not really.
★★ – Not sweet.
★☆ – Sucks.
★ – Sucks giant dog dicks, a-la “Bukkake” Ron Kaye.
With that out of the way, here we go, in chronological order:
★★★★ The Real Thing (1989) – There isn’t a dull moment on the band’s breakthrough album, and while it has an energetic pop punch that Angel Dust lacks, it doesn’t have quite the same level of depth. Still a thrilling set of songs that is rightfully viewed as one of the landmark records of its era. Songs:
★★★★ “From Out of Nowhere” – Short, sweet and heavy. Good opener. Little-known fact: this was actually the album’s first single.
★★★★★ “Epic” – What is it? Fucking awesome.
★★★★ “Falling to Pieces” – Didn’t generate nearly as much attention as “Epic” when released as the third single. It deserved a better fate.
★★★★ “Surprise! You’re Dead!” – This song is exactly what an angry 15-year-old Mike Gatto needed to hear.
★★★☆ “Zombie Eaters” – One of Jim Martin’s finest moments.
★★★ “Edge of the World” – FNM’s first-ever piano tune. Solid initial effort at the aesthetic that would later produce “RV” and “Sunny Side Up.”
★★★☆ “The Real Thing” – Strong title track that falls just a hair short of being awesome enough to warrant its excessive length.
★★★☆ “Underwater Love” – Funky tune with infectious vocal melodies that falls off at the end.
★★★ “The Morning After” – Not unique enough to stand out on such a strong album. Mike Gatto used to think of this as The Real Thing’s “forgotten song” while he was fucking hot chicks with his big dick.
★★★☆ “Woodpecker from Mars” – Great live song. Mike Gatto can’t think of a better rock instrumental from the 80s/90s.
★★★☆ “War Pigs” – Solid but straightforward rendition of Sabbath that was likely included for commercial reasons.
(Rule #1 of rock art: Flames are always sweet.)
★★★★☆ Angel Dust (1992) – An exceptional achievement and unlikely to be surpassed as the band’s finest hour. Convention-challenging songs still pack plenty of power, with moody, cinematic turns that unify the collection, making the whole greater than the sum of the parts. And the parts are all pretty fucking awesome. Songs:
★★★★ “Land of Sunshine” – Cynical opener signals a dramatic departure from The Real Thing, yet retains the band’s signature sound.
★★★★☆ “Caffeine” – Tense, evocative song features one of the greatest explosions of pure rock awesomeness in the band’s entire catalogue.
★★★★★ “Midlife Crisis” – I…I mean, Mike Gatto, wants this song played at his funeral.
★★★★ “RV” – After a few listens, this song quickly dismisses any initial impressions that it’s a jokey throwaway.
★★★☆ “Smaller and Smaller” – Grinding, atmospheric song complemented by a unique and memorable bridge.
★★★☆ “Everything’s Ruined” – Cool keyboard-driven track, but sounds a little too clean and polished for its own good.
★★★ “Malpractice” – Before this album came out, Mike Gatto could never have imagined this band making a song like this.
★★★☆ “Kindergarten” – A good example of how Jim Martin’s presence might have improved some of the underwhelming deep cuts on KFAD and AotY.
★★★☆ “Be Aggressive” – Easily the best rock song about sucking dicks ever recorded.
★★★★ “A Small Victory” – It shouldn’t bother Mike Gatto that this catchy single got hardly any mainstream attention. But it does.
★★★ “Crack Hitler” – Rousing, chord-driven chorus saves what is otherwise the only question mark on this entire record.
★★★★ “Jizzlobber” – A vicious rocker that stays true to the band’s metal roots, but with the kind of signature artistic flourish only FNM is capable of.
★★★ “Midnight Cowboy” – A bit of a head-scratcher, but I…er, Mike Gatto,can’t deny that its presence elevates the overall effect of the album.
(I own this T-shirt. It may as well say “I fucking rule and I’m so sweet” on the front.)
★★★ King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime (1995) – In the wake of Jim Martin’s departure from the band, Faith No More feel like they’re groping for a renewed sense of identity on this experimental album. KFAD has its moments, but at many turns, it sounds more like Mr. Bungle than Faith No More – signalling, to me…I mean, to Mike Gatto, that they’re trying too hard to be weird. Can’t help but think this would have been a better record if Patton had denied himself a little indulgence and Martin had still been with the band. Mike Gatto was disappointed upon its initial release and time hasn’t done much to change his opinion. This wasn’t what Mike Gatto hoped for after Angel Dust, and he got heavy into Pavement soon afterward. Songs:
★★★ “Get Out” – Decent rocker to open the album, but the song has very little depth.
★★★☆ “Ricochet” – Clean song with an interesting build. Solid single material.
★★★ “Evidence” – One of the album’s more interesting sonic experiments runs overlong and wears out its welcome.
★★★ “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” – Serviceable rock composition undermined by Patton’s over-aggressive indulgence for nonsensical screaming.
★☆ “Star AD” – What were they thinking? Honestly, tell me. I…I mean, Mike Gatto, really doesn’t know.
★★☆ “Cuckoo for Caca” – See “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”
★★ “Caralho Voador” – If I…I mean, Mike Gatto, wanted to hear Mr. Bungle, Mike Gatto would listen to Mr. Bungle.
★★☆ “Ugly in the Morning” – See “Cuckoo for Caca”
★★★ “Digging the Grave” – Catchy, rhythmic rocker was a good first single in the sense that it captured the spirit of the entire album.
★★★ “Take This Bottle” – Strong melody propels this soothing but predictable ballad.
★★★★ “King for a Day” – Loud, dark epic in the spirit of “The Real Thing” is this album’s first true keeper.
★★☆ “What a Day” – Would have played stronger if the album were shorter.
★★☆ “The Last to Know” – Black Sabbath meets 90s grunge, only with keyboards. Decent but unremarkable.
★★★★ “Just a Man” – They saved the best for last, and I remember this song salvaging my opinion of the whole album when I…I mean, Mike Gatto, first listened to it.
(This is the reverse side of the album cover, showing Mike Gatto on his way to stuff his giant boner into a really hot chick.)
★★★ Album of the Year (1997) – Even though I…I mean, Mike Gatto, is giving it the same star rating, Mike Gatto thinks AotY > KFAD:FFAL. There are many solid moments and some underrated songs on this album, but it lacks focus and urgency. Yet another lineup change seems to have left the identity question from KFAD lingering unresolved. It didn’t seem surprising to Mike Gatto at the time that the band called it quits not long after releasing this. Their energy was palpably drained. Songs:
★★☆ “Collision” – Blaring opener seems to plod along, despite being a relatively lean 3 minutes.
★★★★ “Stripsearch” – Moody, atmospheric song sets expectations high early on and delivers for the most part, though Mike Gatto has always felt just a tiny little bit let down by the guitar-dominated second half of the song.
★★★★ “Last Cup of Sorrow” – Minor hit got FNM back on the mainstream map.
★★★ “Naked in Front of the Computer” – FNM really misses Jim Martin on short, aggressive rockers like these.
★★★☆ “Helpless” – Cynical earworm is one of the band’s most underrated songs.
★★★ “Mouth to Mouth” – Mike Gatto never did figure out what to make of the carnivalesque Arabic keyboards. Solid rock chorus deserved a better fate.
★★★★ “Ashes to Ashes” – Polished radio-friendly anthem offers a rare moment of genuine sentimentality.
★★☆ “She Loves Me Not” – Jazzy piano tune seems miscast on this album.
★★☆ “Got That Feeling” – See “Naked in Front of the Computer”
★★★ “Paths of Glory” – Time has been kind to this dour, downtempo deep cut.
★★☆ “Home Sick Home” – Song builds an interesting mood with threatening undertones but gets too wound up in its own flinging strands.
★★★☆ “Pristina” – Rewards patience. Draws on the “Ricochet” songwriting model.
(The album cover shows an old man who does not have a beautiful, magnificent stallion dick.)
★★★★ Sol Invictus (2015) – After a long layoff, the band comes back with nothing to prove and nothing to lose — the perfect recipe for a stunning return to form that simultaneously breaks new ground while hearkening back to their best years. Clearly re-energized by the long layoff, this album shines with a level of inspiration and focus not seen since the glory days of Angel Dust. Intricate, compelling songwriting eschews the uneven excesses of KFAD and AotY, creating a fresh and relevant sound that combines the best elements of the band’s recent history with its signature genre-bending blend of goth, funk and hard rock. Totally different, and not what I…I mean, Mike Gatto was expecting, but this is without doubt the FNM me and Mike Gatto know and love. Very pleasant surprise. Mike Gatto’s expectations were low. Songs:
★★★★ “Sol Invictus” – Methodical, precisely executed opener has a beautiful melody and a haunting timelessness.
★★★★ “Superhero” – Hands-down the band’s best single since “Midlife Crisis.”
★★★★ “Sunny Side Up” – Piano tune in the vein of “RV” seems silly at first but its levity belies its true depth. Patton’s vocals shine.
★★★☆ “Separation Anxiety” – Near-flawless musical arrangement goes off-kilter with the incongruous approach to the vocals. Many fans and critics are falling all over themselves to praise this song. It’s been compared to “Midlife Crisis,” but isn’t at that level. Mike Gatto thinks it would have been more powerful as a straight-ahead rocker instead of lingering in the contrapuntal lounge-ish falsetto vocals of the verses.
★★★★☆ “Cone of Shame” – Explosive rocker in the vein of “Stripsearch” packs more power and a better payoff. Refreshing, creative, and the best song on this album.
★★★☆ “Rise of the Fall” – Grows on Mike Gatto more and more with each listen. Haunting melody and strong vocals propel it towards essential status. Good song to fuck hot chicks to with your big giant dick.
★★★☆ “Black Friday” – Rare acoustic social commentary benefits bigtime from the infectious clapping sample and a great guitar lick. Could prove to be one of the band’s most underrated songs.
★★★ “Motherfucker” – Mike Gatto hated this at first, until Mike Gatto realized it was less a song and more a statement of purpose. It’s grown on Mike Gatto ever since, thanks in large part to the singalong-worthy chorus.
★★★☆ “Matador” – Some reviews called this one of the best songs the band has ever written. I…I mean, Mike Gatto wouldn’t go that far, but it is interesting and builds to a satisfying climax.
★★★★ “From the Dead” – Warmhearted, richly textured closer in the vein of “Just a Man.” “Welcome home my friend” to you too, fellas. We missed you.
(Sweet dudes being sweet. Satanism rules.)
In conclusion, I am no relation to Mike Gatto and Faith No More fucking rules. For unretouched proof of the second part of that statement, check out the quasar of sweetness that is Mike Patton’s first live show with the band, recorded in Long Beach, California in March, 1989. While I recommend that you do what I did — smoke half a gram of hash, turn the volume up to 10, put on your headphones, turn out the lights and revel in the full glory of its primordial awesomeness — you can skip ahead to see the first-ever live performance of “Epic.” It starts around the 4min00sec mark.
What’s sweeter than super sweet? That concert.