Released almost 3 years since the iconic classic that was The Real Thing, Faith No More followed up with, in my opinion, their definitive masterpiece - Angel Dust. With this album, Mike Patton's influence on Faith No More really began to shine through and gave them their best sound as of yet. While still maintaining the accessibility that defined their previous effort, Angel Dust is the weirdest album that Faith No More had released up to this point. Maybe that's what makes this album so great - it's not nearly as twisted and avant as their next album is, but it still contains an experimental tinge that makes for an incredibly unique album in the grunge-filled rock scene of the time. I can only imagine what it must have been like to hear this album back in 1992. Considering that almost 20 years later it still stands as a unique gem in my collection, it must've really been something special back when it released. If you like rock, funk, metal, jazz, avant-garde, hip hop... ah, never mind. If you like music in general, do yourself a favor and give Angel Dust a shot. This masterpiece has stood the test of time, and is surely among my all-time favorite albums. If you're going to get only one album from Faith No More (which would be a huge mistake), I would make it this one.
The music here is extremely hard to categorize. The best overall tag here is experimental alternative rock/metal, but even that feels a bit unfitting. There's a distinct funk influence in many of the songs, especially "Land of Sunshine", the lyrically witty "Be Aggressive", or the symphonic "Kindergarten". Progressive rock influences creep their way in throughout the entire album, as do jazz and hip hop tendencies. There's even a country music influence in "RV", which illustrates Mike Patton's hilarious satirical parody on American "white trash". Picking a standout track on Angel Dust is virtually impossible since they're all absolute masterpieces. The closing track, John Barry's "Midnight Cowboy", is an interesting choice to end the album, but I think it works surprisingly well. This is just yet another example of the eclecticism on Angel Dust. An interesting sidenote are the large amount of sampling used here, especially for a rock album. Record label executives were quite concerned with all of the sampling on Angel Dust, but I can't imagine listening to the album without it. The interesting placement and usage of samples really give Angel Dust yet another experimental edge that make it one of the greatest albums of all time in my opinion. Of course, another great thing about Faith No More is the excellent musicianship. Mike Patton's vocals were always the highlight of this album for me, but the rest of the group is always tight and precise. There isn't anything too technical in Angel Dust, but the musicians (especially the amazing bass playing from Bill Gould) are still very capable and a joy to listen to.
The production is yet another winner from Matt Wallace and Faith No More. The sound is a bit more organic than The Real Thing, but it still sounds equally, if not more, impressive.
Angel Dust is an absolute masterpiece in my opinion, and definitely among my all-time favorite albums. If there are any flaws here, they're too small for this reviewer to notice. 5 stars is the least I can give to this essential masterwork. It's original, it's fun, it's beautiful, it's twisted, and it's just an all-around must own! I remember when I first heard Angel Dust and was absolutely blown away. Everyone has a few albums that they've listened to on a once-a-day basis for months... this is one of those albums for me. If you haven't heard this, you're honestly missing out on one of the best music experiences out there. Essential!