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

funk metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

INCUBUS (CA) S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Album Cover S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
INCUBUS (CA)
4.57 | 8 ratings
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EXTREME Extreme II: Pornograffitti Album Cover Extreme II: Pornograffitti
EXTREME
4.05 | 28 ratings
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PRIMUS Frizzle Fry Album Cover Frizzle Fry
PRIMUS
4.01 | 24 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
3.99 | 9 ratings
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PRIMUS Sailing the Seas of Cheese Album Cover Sailing the Seas of Cheese
PRIMUS
3.93 | 24 ratings
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LIVING COLOUR Stain Album Cover Stain
LIVING COLOUR
3.99 | 7 ratings
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INCUBUS (CA) Fungus Amongus Album Cover Fungus Amongus
INCUBUS (CA)
3.99 | 6 ratings
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PRIMUS Tales From the Punchbowl Album Cover Tales From the Punchbowl
PRIMUS
3.91 | 19 ratings
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LIVING COLOUR Time's Up Album Cover Time's Up
LIVING COLOUR
3.92 | 9 ratings
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FAITH NO MORE The Real Thing Album Cover The Real Thing
FAITH NO MORE
3.83 | 70 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

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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.

PRIMUS Tales From the Punchbowl

Album · 1995 · Funk Metal
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martindavey87
With their fourth album, 'Tales from the Punchbowl', Primus have finally managed to channel all their talent into something somewhat akin to a cohesive rock album. Taking their unusual style of offbeat, alternative funk rock and applying it in a more traditional rock setting, Primus have managed to produce a record that is more accessible to the mainstream public, without having to compromise their own distinct sound.

There's no other band that embodies the term "acquired taste" better than Primus, and even on a release that features some of the bands most radio-friendly material, there's plenty of their obscure (and somewhat self-indulgent) weirdness, that doesn't follow any type of traditional songwriting trait, and features an almost monotone spoken-word dialogue.

But yet, unlike previous albums, I seem to be able to tolerate it here. The odd music, the random, yet interesting lyrics, the humour... everything here just seems to work on some artistic level or another. It's like a car crash, an ugly mess but you just can't look away.

The highlights for me are 'Professor Nutbutters House of Treats', 'Mrs Blaileen', 'Southbound Pachyderm', 'Over the Electric Grapevine', and of course, the band's biggest hit, 'Wynona's Big Brown Beaver' (which is for me, like so many others, the song that introduced me to Primus). But the album flows so smoothly that even small, comedic, filler tracks such as 'Space Farm' and 'De Anza Jag' are infectious and notable in their own right.

As interesting as it is unique, Primus truly aren't to everyone's tastes (including my own), but 'Tales from the Punchbowl' is just a straight-up good album, and serves as a great starting point if you're new to the band.

PRIMUS Sailing the Seas of Cheese

Album · 1991 · Funk Metal
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martindavey87
Not these guys again...

There was a time in my youth when I'd have loved the quirkiness of a band like Primus. With their obscure sense of humour and their blend of rock and funk, there's truly no other band like them. But what makes them so unique is also what pretty much puts so many people off of them.

And to put it bluntly, it's mostly boring self-indulgence.

While the musicians themselves are all incredibly talented, and certainly adept at thinking outside the box, the music itself is very hard to follow, and definitely requires the listener to be equally open-minded. There's very little singing, with vocalist Les Claypool preferring more of a spoken-word type of vocal style, and a lot of the music itself tends to plod along with no real melodies sticking out. As a whole, it's just a complete mess.

If I had to pick out some highlights, it'd have to be 'Tommy the Cat' and 'Jerry Was a Race Car Driver', most probably because these are the notable singles from the album, and while they do have some infectious grooves in the music, as per usual with this band, the spoken babble that is the lyrics kind of ruins them.

I'm sure there was a time when I loved this band, especially as I seem to recall asking for some of their albums as Christmas and Birthday presents in my early twenties. But I listen to 'Sailing the Seas of Cheese' now and it bores the life out of me. Primus really are in a league all of their own when it comes to "keeping an open mind", sadly, it's just not a very good one.

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