Faith No More - The Real Thing - Review
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critics' view

This was where Faith No More finally hit their stride. The often-painful vocals of Chuck Mosley had just been ejected from the band’s formula, and in their place the largely unknown Mike Patton was poised for a musical revolution. After the summer of 1989, both a legendary vocalist and a powerful band would be introduced to the world; though the latter would soon begin a long-lived dissolution, Patton would instead become an icon. All of this would be made possible by Faith No More’s third outing – The Real Thing.

The album’s name is quite fitting. Faith No More is probably the only worthwhile band in a genre that has become infested with nonsense and nausea thanks to juggalo-maggots, Jonathan Davis, and the like. Even though these bowel movements of the music industry claim “inspiration” from Faith No More, there is little to suggest the styles of the misinformed Three Days Grace crowd in the music of this band (barring the awful Angel Dust, of course). Instead, there’s a wealth of ideas and great compositions, not to mention variety – something the recent “alternative metal” scene uniformly lacks. Faith No More manages to blend funk, heavy metal, jazz, and semi-progressive music into a smooth amalgamation.

The dominant style at work is funk rock, on display in the opening three songs as well as “Underwater Love.” That means proficient bass, with some slapping and popping for effect, as well as simple but effective riffs. Mike Patton soars here, sporting his distinctive higher-register vocal style plus some other techniques, such as gang shouts somewhat reminiscent of “Wrathchild” in the band’s number one most well known song, “Epic.” The same song also makes use of repetition – not repetitiveness – and even includes a melodic piano outro. “From Out of Nowhere” employs some heavier riffing, especially in the first few seconds. The lyrics in the funk-oriented songs deal with sex – but in a subtle, intelligent way, unlike mallcore.

The Real Thing also gets heavy at times. This is nowhere more apparent than in the hardcore punk tendencies of “Surprise! You’re Dead!” where Patton proves his versatility through both rapid-fire vocal lines and short bursts of death growls. Meanwhile, the instrumentalists implement rough, almost crossover-oriented riffs and drum beats. The fleshed-out title track, meanwhile, represents the entirety of the album throughout its eight-minute duration, consisting of metal, funk, and several other genres in varying degrees over the course of its length. Mike Patton uses many of his voices, including the higher vocals from the first few tracks, some growls, hardcore punk shouts, and more.

Faith No More show that they understand the concept of program music in the instrumental “Woodpecker from Mars.” The main agents in the song are the synthesizers (fret not – they’re tastefully used) and the bass, which represent the grace of the animal and the harshness with which it can attack, respectively. The latter half of the title is felt through the guitar, which tends to reverberate a spacey quality in its contribution. The band acknowledges their masters as well, playing a masterful cover of “War Pigs,” which manages to capture the heaviness of the original despite the absence of Iommi, and displays the band’s competence when it comes to working with traditional metal. Finally, The Real Thing contains its biggest quirk in the closing “Edge of the World,” a jazzy piece that is offset by Patton’s strangely pedophiliac lyrics, which, as they are obviously not serious, bring a touch of humor into the fold.

This is the album that catapulted Mike Patton into the spotlight and allowed him to flaunt his increasingly avant-garde material and incredible versatility via his newly important original band and his eventual peak of esotericism with Adult Themes for Voice. Even if you despise Faith No More for unfortunately being the precursor to Korn and Limp Bizkit, always remember that without The Real Thing, Mike Patton would never have been able to create his insane later works that even many of the enemies of this album still admire.

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