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 characterised 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

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funk metal top albums

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LIVING COLOUR Stain Album Cover Stain
LIVING COLOUR
4.35 | 15 ratings
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FAITH NO MORE The Real Thing Album Cover The Real Thing
FAITH NO MORE
4.06 | 84 ratings
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EXTREME Extreme II: Pornograffitti Album Cover Extreme II: Pornograffitti
EXTREME
3.94 | 36 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)
4.06 | 10 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
4.04 | 10 ratings
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INCUBUS (CA) Fungus Amongus Album Cover Fungus Amongus
INCUBUS (CA)
4.06 | 9 ratings
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PRIMUS The Brown Album Album Cover The Brown Album
PRIMUS
3.94 | 16 ratings
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PRIMUS Sailing the Seas of Cheese Album Cover Sailing the Seas of Cheese
PRIMUS
3.85 | 36 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
3.93 | 10 ratings
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PRIMUS Tales From the Punchbowl Album Cover Tales From the Punchbowl
PRIMUS
3.80 | 25 ratings
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LIVING COLOUR Time's Up Album Cover Time's Up
LIVING COLOUR
3.81 | 17 ratings
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PRIMUS Frizzle Fry Album Cover Frizzle Fry
PRIMUS
3.75 | 34 ratings
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INFECTIOUS GROOVES Sarsippius' Ark

Album · 1993 · Funk Metal
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siLLy puPPy
INFECTIOUS GROOVES was pretty much the side project of Suicidal Tendencies lead singer Mike Muir where he could unleash his sense of humor in a funk metal context. The band started out as a quintet with Muir on vocals, fellow Suicidal Tendencies and future Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, ST guitarist Dean Pleasants, Excel guitarist Adam Siegel and Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins. This band was something of a metal supergroup if you will.

The band released its debut “The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move… It’s The Infectious Grooves” and pretty much bridged the gap between the funk rock of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the crossover thrash of Suicidal Tendencies. The album was amazingly good with a Mr Bungle styled nonchalance that mixed humor, novelty and funk rock with thrash metal. The band was always a side project so was never taken seriously by many but for my tastes i consider that debut album a true masterpiece of innovation and actually prefer it to Suicidal! Oh blasphemy!!!

After “The Plague” made its splash, INFECTIOUS GROOVES sort of took a risk by taking the novelty to the next level and two years later released what is considered the second album SARSIPPIUS’ ARK which saw the departure of Perkins on drums and replaced by John Freese of the lesser known band The Vandals. While considered an official album, this second offering feels more like an EP of flotsam of jetsam including not up to snuff material that was rejected from the debut, cover songs, live tracks from the first album and a remix of “Infectious Grooves.”

All things considered it’s not surprising that this one is a major step down from the amazingly excellent debut album. The originals aren’t as strong as the material that preceded, the whole SARSIPPIUS spoken word skits had grown a little stale and the covers aren’t that interesting. Add to that the fact that the live tracks showcase a band that doesn’t deviate from the studio recordings and Mike Muir clearly couldn’t sing as well live as in the studio. All of these factors conspired to make a rather inferior second offering which is why i like to think of this as an EP as opposed to a bonafide album simply because it sounds like a release of flotsam and jetsam.

While they were unofficial members, the debut album included three guest musicians that added extra guitar parts and keyboards. That album was much fuller in sound with an incredible breadth of creativity but this second album sounds a bit forced actually and is a bit of an anomaly between the strength of the debut and the following “Groove Family Cyco.” Personally i think the whole SARSIPPIUS Sulemenagic Jackson III shtick was OK for the debut but at this point was pretty stale since the whole lizard man sounding like a conceited African American with a George Clinton fetish was pretty silly actually.

When all is said and done there is nothing on this album that is better or equal to the debut but that doesn’t mean it’s a total dud. The musicianship is as tight as ever and a few stand out tracks like “Don’t Stop Spread The Jam” and “Three Headed Mind Pollution” are really nice funk metal tracks. Add to that list the funky junky “These Freaks Are Here To Party.” The problem with this album is that the Led Zeppelin and David Bowie covers are OK but nothing special and some of the tracks are fairly lame like “Savor Da Flavor” and “Slo-Motion Slam.” The highlight of the album is that SARSIPPIUS who sort of acted like Lucy on “I Love Lucy” always trying to get in the show, finally get to debut his single “Spreck!” A decent track and showcases in full regalia how INFECTIOUS GROOVES was worshipping the altar of classic Parliament and Funkadelic.

An OK release if you really dig this band as i do but the least interesting of the 90s releases fo sho. Add to that the mediocrity of the live performances, the stupid spoken word skits and the substandard originals and this one just isn’t as funkiliscous as the predecessor. Still though it’s a fun enough album if you suppress your inner critique and just let your booty shake as intended. The remix of the track “Infectious Grooves” which is sort of a combo of the original with the David Bowie song “Fame” is actually pretty rad. All in all this isn’t my favorite INFECTIOUS GROOVES release but still a decent “extras” compilation if you should consider it as such.

PRIMUS Frizzle Fry

Album · 1990 · Funk Metal
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SilentScream213
Primus help launch a new decade of metal with a release going against a lot of what 80’s metal was. Frizzle Fry was not exactly a parody album, but it combined silly and nonsensical themes, goofy vocals, and technical prowess.

Straight from your first glimpse of the cover, Frizzle Fry looks like an absolute joke. What you find inside is only halfway so, because in the songwriting and ability department, Primus take themselves very seriously. It’s no secret that it’d take a real expert to not only play, but come up with this stuff. There’s Math Rock and Experimental influence all over this thing. However, one thing Primus is not quite good at is writing a good riff, or a good guitar solo, or really anything musically memorable. The songs do their thing, dance around chaotically with some impressive technique and then leave nothing to remember them by.

The vocals, lyrics, and themes are a big weakness here for me. It’s all just too silly, never clever enough to make me laugh but annoying enough to take away from the music. The vocal style doesn’t make use of any nice hooks or melodies either, further instigating the issue of songs having no memorably strong moments.

FAITH NO MORE The Real Thing

Album · 1989 · Funk Metal
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SilentScream213
Faith No More make a bit of a leap on this one. They keep their weirdo funky Alt Metal sound and knack for variety and experimentation, and slap a heavy dose of consistency on top. Before, Faith No More produced about as many good songs as total duds in their search for a sound. Here they continue changing things up, but the quality remains very good across the entire album. The keys do a fantastic job of adding some grandeur to the otherwise very generic instrumentation. The vocals are hit or miss, not really my thing, but pretty unique at the time and employ a wide variety of techniques. Overall a great improvement without straying from their roots.

LIVING COLOUR Vivid

Album · 1988 · Funk Metal
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SilentScream213
Living Colour emerged with a highly original sound and conscious, politically charged lyrics that as of then had not been prominent in Metal. Simple yet extremely catchy and funky riffage carries the somewhat repetitive songs along as Glover’s fantastic voice and words drive them home. The subject matter ranges from razor sharp critiques of social injustice to introspective, passionate longing, all done very effectively. The album is rather eclectic, and the band showcases their ability to shift between hard hitting Metal anthems and slow, funky bluesy numbers, touching on numerous styles in between.

Vivid is effectively one of the first Funk Metal albums ever recorded, with only Faith No More’s Introduce Yourself coming earlier, though this album is a more fully realized representation of the genre.

FAITH NO MORE Introduce Yourself

Album · 1987 · Funk Metal
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SilentScream213
Very similar to their debut, Introduce Yourself has the same funky grooves, prominent keys and oddball lyrical delivery. The Funk influence is turned all the way up, and it even features some rapping (I assume from Chuck, but most of the members do backup/gang vocals as well). Overall, it’s more focused with better riffs and some good vocal melodies as well, but it’s no huge leap. Most of the material still sounds like an immature band trying to find itself. A very juvenile, mediocre Alternative Metal record, great for fun, but not so much to sit down and have a serious listen.

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