FAITH NO MORE — The Real Thing (review)

FAITH NO MORE — The Real Thing album cover Album · 1989 · Funk Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
On Faith No More's earlier albums the competent bunch of instrumentalists were held back my a very limited vocalist, but for The Real Thing the band brought in the wonder kid Mike Patton from the weirdo group Mr. Bungle. Nowadays Patton is praised as a god, capable of hitting any and every imaginable note with his versatile voice, but as he was only 20 when these recording sessions took place he still sounds like an undeveloped teenager compared to his later works.

The main sound of the band hadn't changed that much, we've still got the metal riffs of Jim Martin, the melodic and funky rhythm section of Billy Gould and Mike Bordin and keyboardist Roddy Bottum adding his colorful spices on top, but Patton's flexible voice allowed them to focus more on melody as opposed to the mostly rhythm based workouts of previous years.

The smash hit that broke FNM to the mainstream was Epic, with its rapped verses the song perhaps closest to their previous sound. But what was new was the soaring chorus, which the band couldn't have been able to pull off with Chuck Mosley. The brilliant performance of this song on Saturday Night Live was no doubt a contributing factor to the album's chart success. Other highlights of the album include From Out of Nowhere and Falling to Pieces that take full advantage of Patton's melodic capabilities, the full on metal attack of Surprise, You're Dead! and the half ballad-half thrash fest Zombie Eaters. And head and shoulders above the rest of the material stands the stunning, epic title track, a magnificent composition and performance.

But unfortunately after these first six songs the album takes a turn for the worse, the rest of the material being good at best and very unmemorable at worst. I have no idea how many times I've listened to this album (many, I can say that) but I still have trouble trying to remember one fragment of melody or lyrics from Underwater Love and only recently I've come to notice The Morning After, and actually quite like it. Woodpecker from Mars is an entertaining but unessential instrumental and the faithful reproduction of the Sabbath classic War Pigs seems a bit pointless. Great song of course, but the band doesn't bring much new into it. Edge of the World is a fine and fitting closer but not much more.

Despite losing steam halfway through this album is a great showcase of their potential that would really blossom on future releases.
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