A lot of Mr. Bungle fans come from Faith No More, but I’ve gone in the opposite direction. Most people assume Mr. Bungle is Mike Patton’s self-indulgent solo project, instead of the vital and counter-culturally important band they were. I however assumed that Faith No More were simply the commercial rock arm of Patton’s career, essentially the day job that allowed him the luxury to experiment in his other most important projects.
This, I’ve discovered, is selling FNM extremely short. They are their own band with their own excellent sense of style, perhaps best exemplified by their pasty white keyboardist Roddy Bottum wearing a backwards baseball cap. They were active through the late 80s and early 90s, a period of music which makes the vomit rise up in my throat and subsequently spill out of my mouth and all over the laptop.
Angel Dust is an album. It comes in the form of a compact disc, containing some digitised replications of fourteen distinctly intricate and complex musical recordings in a rock-pop-metal vein from the year 1992 Anno Domini.
Anyway, enough hyperbole, let’s get down to some cold hard analysis. As a side note, “let’s get down to some cold hard anal, Sis,” would be a very disturbing thing to say to your sister…
The music on Angel Dust is an interesting and melodic mess of contrasting elements and yet somewhat predictably they all mesh together into songs of singular focus and sound, maybe because that’s just what commercial releases generally do. You’ve got ridiculously slappy bass, steady handed drumming, sickeningly huge chordal keyboards, rocking guitar riffs and licks, and vocals which range from a menacing whisper to a full-on screen, with some actual melodic singing thrown in for good measure.
And basically that’s the entire album summed up. A lot of these songs sound roughly similar to one another, which is okay in this album’s case because they’re all pretty cool songs. There’s a few that stick out though. RV features the band experiment with an easy-listening vibe and spoken verses. Oh, and lyrics about auto-asphyxiation, but that goes without saying really. Midlife Crisis is a song that could easily have constituted an early 90s chart-topper, though it wasn’t. Everything’s Ruined, Kindergarten and A Small Victory are pretty much the same song wearing different shades of lipstick.
However, once the album has reached its conclusion, and the “bonus tracks” kick in, some strange things happen. First, a very straight instrumental cover of Midnight Cowboy, and then a lovely cover of Lionel Frakkin’ Richie’s Easy. It’s melodic and laid-back, and it features Patton’s surprisingly competent crooning. Well, surprising for those who’ve never heard it before.
Anyway, the point of this review is to say, hey, Angel Dust is a pretty good record, and you should totally listen to it. And when I say listen to it I obviously mean buy it first, don’t just download it you horrible thieving monsters. If you need further convincing, then perhaps I’ll slip you a few notes and mention that the guitarist from this album, Jim Martin, appears at the start of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. And if you don’t think that’s cool, then son, I’m sending you to Alaskan military school.