Funk Metal

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Funk metal is a sub-genre of metal that came to be in the mid-late 80's with bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More, Living Colour, and Electric Boys. The genre reached its peak of popularity in the early 90's, after Faith No More’s hit single “Epic” from the album The Real Thing. Primus, Fishbone, 24-7 Spyz, Infectious Grooves, and Extreme were among the best well-known players of the genre, but funk metal included many short lived bands which remained underground.

Funk metal is a genre often characterized by slap bass and funky syncopation blended with various types of metal, as well as a sense of humour. One of the first bands to mix funk and metal, along with many other genres, was Washington DC hardcore/fusion band Bad Brains, although Red Hot Chili Peppers' self-titled debut was perhaps the biggest influence on the genre, with the track "Green Heaven" the earliest combination of funk and metal riffs.

Bands mixed funk with many different metal genres. Living Colour and Mindfunk focused primarily on combining funk with heavy metal, while Extreme and Electric Boys combined it with glam metal. The heavier end of the spectrum saw Mordred, Scatterbrain, and Suicidal Tendencies side-project Infectious Grooves mix funk with thrash. Many more thrash metal bands incorporated funk metal elements in some of their 90's albums without becoming primarily funk metal. Death Angel included influences of funk metal on their 1990 album Act III, and Suicidal Tendencies began incorporating the style on their Lights...Camera...Revolution! album of the same year.

A sense of humour can be seen throughout the entire genre, in various forms. Often the lyrics are comedic or surreal, Primus and Scatterbrain being two prominent examples, with song titles like “My Name is Mud” and “Don't Call Me Dude”. Faith No More sometimes included mini skits, such as in “Death March” from 1987's Introduce Yourself. Some bands like Extreme and Living Colour often had a more socio-political focus to their lyrics.

The genre had lost much of its popularity by the late 90's, as other trends in the metal scene, such as Nu-Metal, were reaching their height. Some Nu-Metal bands made use of funk metal elements in their earlier material such as Powerman 5000, Sugar Ray, and Sick Puppies. Incubus kept the funk metal genre alive during this time with their S.C.I.E.N.C.E. album (1997), although they switched to a more heavy alternative rock style by the end of the decade.

While few bands play funk metal anymore, bands like comedy metal band Psychostick incorporate elements of it, along with many other genres.

-Written by Unitron, 2017

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • Unitron

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LIVING COLOUR Stain Album Cover Stain
LIVING COLOUR
4.33 | 8 ratings
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FAITH NO MORE The Real Thing Album Cover The Real Thing
FAITH NO MORE
4.11 | 72 ratings
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EXTREME Extreme II: Pornograffitti Album Cover Extreme II: Pornograffitti
EXTREME
3.98 | 31 ratings
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INCUBUS (CA) S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Album Cover S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
INCUBUS (CA)
4.03 | 8 ratings
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PRIMUS The Brown Album Album Cover The Brown Album
PRIMUS
3.98 | 13 ratings
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INFECTIOUS GROOVES The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move... It's the Infectious Grooves Album Cover The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move... It's the Infectious Grooves
INFECTIOUS GROOVES
4.03 | 6 ratings
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PRIMUS Frizzle Fry Album Cover Frizzle Fry
PRIMUS
3.91 | 27 ratings
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LIVING COLOUR Time's Up Album Cover Time's Up
LIVING COLOUR
3.94 | 9 ratings
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INCUBUS (CA) Fungus Amongus Album Cover Fungus Amongus
INCUBUS (CA)
3.96 | 6 ratings
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PRIMUS Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People Album Cover Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People
PRIMUS
3.92 | 9 ratings
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PRIMUS Tales From the Punchbowl Album Cover Tales From the Punchbowl
PRIMUS
3.88 | 20 ratings
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L.A.P.D. Who's Laughing Now

Album · 1991 · Funk Metal
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Unitron
Most know how Korn spawned the nu-metal genre when they released their debut studio album back in 1994, but not as many know about the short-lived funk metal band L.A.P.D. Unfortunately, many people only know L.A.P.D. as the band that featured James Shaffer, Reginald Arvizu, and David Silveria before they went on to form Korn. This is a bit of a shame, as L.A.P.D. were a great and unique band in their own right.

L.A.P.D. displays a very wide range of styles and influences, but almost always remaining funky. You'll hear crossover thrash, hardcore punk, grunge-y groove metal, and even a bit of rap. Think Primus meets D.R.I. meets a bit of Beastie Boys, and you'll get a close idea of what to expect. As with most funk metal, these guys have a good sense of humor, which is displayed right in the opening of the album. Opener "P.M.S." begins with a sound clip from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before thrashing the listener's skull. There's none of the depressing and dark subject matter of a Korn record, this album is pure fun, as most funk metal is at its best.

The album is overall really consistent, so it's hard to mention highlights, but there are a few in particular that do stand up above the rest. For those who want some killer thrash-funk, "Excuse Me" delivers those goods. As soon as the song actually starts, it slams your face into the ground with this descending thrashing swirl right into the pit before getting into a marching riff into funky thrash. For an instant headbanger, just take one listen to "Place in France" and try not to get addicted to that riff. It is completely contrasted at the end though with somewhat of a Dream On-esque guitar tone. "Don't Label Me" is a a should-be funk metal classic, and "All My Life" is a short but fun as hell crossover thrash track.

Vocalist Richard Morrill, the only member who wouldn't go on to form Korn, can switch from a Les Claypool-esque tone, hardcore/crossover screaming, to what I can only describe as a stoner rap on "Don't Label Me". That may sound weird, but it adds so much charm. James Shaffer delivers a ton of punishing funk-thrash riffs, as well as some excellent solos on "Don't Label Me" and "Listen (Do What I Say)". The solo on the former in particular is awesome when blended with Reginald Arvizu's funky bass mastery. Last but not least, David Silveria brings a solid rhythm section with Arvizu.

While I love Korn, it would have been nice to hear L.A.P.D. continue as a side thing when the guys weren't busy with Korn. If you're a fan of funk metal, I highly recommend giving this album a listen. It may not be Sailing the Seas of Cheese or S.C.I.E.N.C.E. level of mastery, but it's still a great fun listen.

https://thewickednest.blogspot.com/2018/03/lapd-whos-laughing-now-review.html

EXTREME Extreme II: Pornograffitti

Album · 1990 · Funk Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After catching the attention of the metal scene with their eponymous debut mostly due to the guitar wizardry antics of Nuno Bettencourt as well as the childhood themed syncopated funky metal sound that even got the track “Play With Me” included in a couple films including “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, EXTREME rode the momentum and cranked out their second album EXTREME II: PORNOGRAFFITTI which technically is followed by (A FUNKED UP FAIRY TALE) but absolutely nobody including me knew that it was the case and seems a little excessive actually. The band found huge success with this album as it cashed in just before the total collapse of the glam metal scene that was increasingly becoming more cheesy pop than metal. PORNOGRAFFITTI is no exception to that trend however EXTREME carried out the marriage of glam metal and cheesy pop with more sophistication than say Poison, Warrant or other kitschy purveyors of cheese of the day. Add to that the funk infused compositions and they were ready for primetime.

Nuno Bettencourt was a bona fide guitar hero of the day with technical chops so bold and daring that he was admitted into the big boys club that included the neoclassical greats such as Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteem and Steve Vai. His sophisticated riffing and soloing sequences were the wet dreams of guitarists of the day and he was admittedly brilliant in juxtaposing extreme speed and seemingly improvised techniques into some of the catchiest pop infused melodies in all of 80s metal. On the pop metal side of the equation, the band wrote some incredibly catchy funk metal tunes with addictive multi-part harmonies and ear worm quality melodies that the public ate up which catapulted the album all the way to the #10 position on the Billboard charts and earning them a double platinum release.

To say the least, PORNOGRAFFITTI is quite a diverse release however the tracks basically fall into two categories. The heavy funk metal rockers that display the assiduous riffing with funky syncopation and include extraordinary complex soloing and then… there are the others. The remaining tracks are softer, sweeter and more pop oriented. These tracks include the huge #1 hit “More Than Words” which was basically a duet between vocalist Gary Cherone and guitarist Nuno Bettencourt playing on an acoustic guitar. The track was so friggin’ popular during the day that it created a very unique situation in all of metal history that had 80 year old grandmothers lining up at record stores to buy a mostly metal album based upon the one song that touched them like grandpa never did! They most likely assumed that this was some new version of Simon & Garfunkel which led record store employees to have to convince them to buy the single rather than the album!

The followup single “Hole Hearted” was also a huge hit peaking at #4 on the charts. While also an acoustic number, this one sounded more like Supertramp’s “Give A Little Bit” as it was based on a 12 string guitar with an upbeat mid-tempo stomp sort of groove. Also on the album is a totally left-field turn in the form of “When I First Kissed You” which is a cheesy synthesized Frank Sinatra type of tune that showcases Cherone’s gift for crooning. Given that these mellower pop tracks were so popular makes me realize that Cherone was actually a better crooner on ballads than heavy rock vocalist because when he rocks out he sounds a lot like Paul Stanley of KISS while on ballads like this he displays more sophisticated subtleties. Sometimes on the heavier tracks his vocals just didn’t fit the bill but he always got the job done.

Lyrically speaking, the band utilized the same sort of childhood fantasies laced with nursery rhymes as heard on the debut such as on tracks like “Li’l Jack Horny” and “When I’m President” but on PORNOGRAFFITTI they also developed a sense of political satire as heard in the title track, “Get The Funk Out,” “Money (in God We Trust)” and “He-Man Woman Hater,” the latter of which opens with an outstanding display of Bettencourt’s sizzling guitar playing virtuosity before breaking into the main song. Some of the tracks are head scratchers like the lyrically WTF moment on “Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)” which are the lyrics followed by “Suzie wants her all day sucker.” Perhaps the biggest cheesefest on the album comes in the form of “Song For Love” which is a rather hilarious sort of kumbaya moment where hippie ideals unite with sunshine pop embellished with metal backings. Pretty funny but amazingly addictive at the same time!

PORNOGRAFFITTI portended quite a few trends in the music scene that were about to unfold. Firstly, this album was perhaps the death knell for the glam metal world that was about to get dethroned by the grunge scene once Nirvana’s “Nevermind” hit the market. While glam metal of the 80s started out with a raw and gritty sound as heard on Motley Crue’s earliest albums, throughout the MTV years it continued to get more and more infused with cheesy pop hooks and uninspired ballads that eroded its credibility. While bands like W.A.S.P. and Guns N Roses gave it some sense of legitimacy, EXTREME’s “More Than Words” went the final step and completely eliminated any trace of hard rock or metal altogether resulting in nothing but a Simon & Garfunkel sing along type of guitar and vocal piece. While well performed, it didn’t exactly sit well with metalheads of the day.

Secondly, the funk metal scene and genre mixing would catch on with the ultimate culmination resulting in Mr. Bungle’s debut album the following year. While EXTREME may have been on to something as they saw the signs of a burgeoning alternative approach to metal brewing all around them, unfortunately they latched on to the most loathed aspects of the glam metal scene which would be their ultimate undoing. Personally, despite the negatives of PORNOGRAFFITTI, i actually find the compositions to be brilliant and the lyrics, while cheesy much of the time, are lighthearted and don’t irritate me like they seem to do to others. Perhaps the only problem i have with PORNOGRAFFITTI is that EXTREME are trying too hard to be too many different things and haven’t quite found their unique signature sound as they would on the followup “III Sides To Every Story.” Still though, this is a fun little spin that i’ve listened to a ridiculous number of times. While the production of the original is a little sucky, the newer remastered version makes up for it and possible the one to check out.

EXTREME Extreme II: Pornograffitti

Album · 1990 · Funk Metal
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Warthur
Extreme come at the whole funk metal prospect from a glam rock background, and as such it's rather poppier than much similar material of the era. Primus may have been "Sailing the Seas of Cheese", but this is cheesier by far than their material, and flirts regularly with reverting into full-on glam metal. For those who don't mind the more pop-metal styles of the 1980s, it's a blast, and there's certainly some wit shown in the lyrics. The Van Halen-esque guitar heroics add a bit of technical prowess to proceedings which at least helps steer things away from the most vapid and insipid excesses of the glam metal era.

CEMENT The Man With The Action Hair

Album · 1994 · Funk Metal
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pointandclick
Like their debut, this album could be generalized as some sort of cross between punk rock and the funk metal of Faith No More's "Introduce Yourself", although generalizations never do eclectic genre hopping bands such as this justice. "Bonnie Brea" and "Hotel Diablo" for example are full blown psychdelic jams, while "King Arthur" gives an early indication of Mosley's love for sarcastic acoustic ditties. Perhaps most shockingly to Mike Pattonphiles, "The Man with the Action Hair" manages to display a great sense of melody in ballad-y type tracks such as "Crying", "Killing an Angel", "Sleep" and "Life on the Sun". To me these sort of songs are proof that Chuck could actually sing, especially since they were recorded 4 years prior to the advent of auto tune / pitch correction.

Originally written for rateyourmusic.com

MR. BUNGLE OU818

Demo · 1989 · Funk Metal
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siLLy puPPy
MR BUNGLE released their fourth demo OU818 in 1989 after three previous demos that showed the band debut as a death metal band on “The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny” and then took a complete stylistic shift on their second demo “Bowel Of Chilly” as they completely dropped the style in favor of a Fishbone inspired fusion of ska and funk rock, however it took them a couple demos to warm up and finally scored a cohesive band sound on their third demo “Goddammit I Love America!” On OU818 they continued to hone their sound into an undeniably addictive eclectic mix that at long last sounded like no one else on the music scene. Not only did Mike Patton get his vocal act together but compositionally speaking, the band began to fuse progressive rock into the jazz-fusion and funk metal mix.

The title OU818 was a play on the popular yet lame Van Halen album of the day titled “OU812” which found the Van “Hagar” sound rapidly failing and becoming stale. This is the point where both Danny Heifetz would replace Hans Wagner on drums and Bär McKinnon would take over Luke Miller’s role on horns. The classic lineup was complete and the chemistry is magic at this point. The band had even taken it upon themselves to handle the production and it really does sound much better than the three demos that came before. While the debut demo was clearly rooted in the metal world, the band took a hiatus for the next two with only snippets of heaviness but the heavy riffing returned on OU818 with bombastic outbursts of funk metal riffing interspersed between the surreal soundscapes that sandwiched them.

OU818 is in effect a rough draft of the eponymous debut album that would appear on the Warner Brothers label in 1991. Of the six tracks aboard, four are almost nearly completed tracks from the first album which include: “Squeeze Me Macaroni,” “Slowly Growing Deaf,” “The Girls Of Porn” and “Love Is A Fist.” The remaining two tracks consist of the opening “OHUE818” which is a snazzy little intro with Patton emulating a radio DJ talking shit about the new demo and dissing the Van Halen album that was current with electronic music sputtering on in the background. While the main staple is the ska infused funk rock and metal that they had been developing, MR B had diversified its sound manyfold finding not only more metallic riffs interspersed about but a clear John Zorn influence raging on in the horn section especially on “Love Is A Fist.”

The final track only appears on this demo and despite a track name like “Mr. Nice Guy” sounding like a possible alteration of an Alice Cooper classic, it is in fact a ska funk number with jazzy guitar riffs, a beefy bass line and an overall similar sound to the riffs heard on “The Girls Of Porn.” MR B also has entered sound effect territory with the classic dialogue from the 50s school skit about how not to be a MR BUNGLE finding its way into their world as well as sudden genre shifts and time signature freak outs run amok. Overall this is an excellent demo and the best of the four as it sounds like a fully formed mature MR BUNGLE has emerged from the death metal and early Fishbone clone sounds of only a few short years before. So impressive is this demo that it caught the attention of Warner Bros who would release one of the weirdest albums of their label’s history. While this is excellent as a demo, it still lacks all the perfecting touches that a major budget provides and since four out of six tracks are on the debut in a much better finished product, this remains excellent but not really essential. Very well worth the time to explore beyond just a hardcore fan curiosity though.

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