25 Years Ago: Faith No More Confounds and Thrills With ‘Angel Dust’
Three albums into a beautifully weird career and Faith No More struck platinum with The Real Thing, more than half a year after it came out, due to the track “Epic” and the substantial airplay the fish-flopping video received on MTV. Anticipation was understandably great then for its follow-up, Angel Dust, which came out June 8, 1992.
The record was just as masterful, if not more so, than its predecessor, leaving critics fawning over it and many open-minded fans doing the same. But the mainstream fans who wanted “Epic 2.0” were left understandably puzzled though as at its core, Angel Dust is a complete swerve to the left, then right, avoiding the center lane at all costs.
Leadoff single “Midlife Crisis,” released a few weeks before the album dropped, was an attention grabber with its distinctive drumbeat intro (partially sampled from Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia”) and memorable chorus where singer Mike Patton declared, “You're perfect, yes, it's true / But without me you're only you.” Even talk of a “menstruating heart” in the lyrics wasn’t off-putting as the track was so good.
The rest of the record wouldn’t be so straightforward. Angel Dust turned out to be a perfect mixture of funk-metal (“Everything’s Ruined”), gorgeously riff-heavy (“A Small Victory” and “Land of Sunshine”) and carnival-themed melodies with comical lyrics (“RV”). Then there was the truly freakish “Jizzlobber,” a schizophrenic metal march and that descends into a church organ and choir filled coda. And the record ends with a cover of the theme song from the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy.
"I think we've stretched what we are to an absurd level this time, which is great," Patton told Reflex. "I think we would all be really happy if people took this record home and went, 'What the hell is this?!' I think that's gonna happen – and I think that's a good thing.”
Patton, who had taken on a major role in the songwriting process after not having contributed at all to the previous album, which was for the most part completed when he joined. Between The Real Thing and Angel Dust, he was off supporting the debut of his side-project Mr. Bungle, which was off the wall, both musically and lyrically. Some of those sentiments were brought into the FNM fold, and while toned down, didn’t exactly stink of normality.
Basically, Angel Dust wasn’t an album for listeners who liked things put into a nice little box with a fancy bow on it. There were elements of so many different genres of music it almost defied categorization. It might be looked at, then, as a bit of a misstep then when Faith No More went on the road the following month as the support act on the Guns N’ Roses and Metallica co-headlining stadium tour. The band weren’t metal and catered to neither the former's sleazy immediacy nor the latter's serious
"Playing for people who are seeing us for the first time is interesting and challenging, but the first band always gets a real lukewarm reception,” keyboardist Roddy Bottum told the Chicago Tribune at the time. “It`s happened to us over and over again. We feel like we have to really provoke the audience to get a response-and going to such lengths every night to provoke people just isn`t healthy.”
It certainly wasn’t healthy for the success of the album, which debuted at No. 10 on the charts before dropping off completely by that fall. Angel Dust sold about half as many copies as The Real Thing. To this day though, it remains a fan favorite.
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