As a human being who has occupied the planet for a tad over 40 years, it is a slightly daunting reality that some of my favourite albums are having significant birthdays of their own. As incredible as it seems, a number of records that very much formed the soundtrack of my youth are turning 20, which to me is now exactly half a lifetime ago. As a result ‘Don’t Let Go‘ is to be a regular Across The Ocean feature, a nostalgic glance back in time to celebrate some of the truly seminal moments from that era. So with that said come with me on a journey back to the days of indoor smoking, flanno donning and scarcely controlled stage diving- the mid 90s. – Gavin Stocker
(Release date: March 28, 1995)
Having already established themselves as an unpredictable beast with previous album Angel Dust, Faith No More‘s follow up managed to further stretch their already elastic sonic boundaries. The band’s first recording without original guitarist Jim Martin – King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime ventured into some weird and wonderful places.
Jumping on guitar duties was Trey Spruance, a bandmate of vocalist Mike Patton in his genre hopping other project Mr. Bungle. Perhaps this new addition influenced the schitzophrenic nature of KFADFFAL as they fused their core rock/metal stylings with meanderings into the likes of lounge, jazz, country and gospel, all the time managing to sound just like Faith No More.
By their standards the album starts off relatively straightforward. ‘Get Out‘ and ‘Ricochet‘ are both quality rock songs.
Aggressive, snappy and catchy, they make for a fitting introduction before the first real head turner. The silky smooth ‘Evidence‘ unveiled a sound not experienced hitherto. Tinkling keyboards, slick bass and crooning vocals, it became apparent FNM could have easily forged a career playing dimly lit wine bars.
This is easy to forgot about thirty seconds into follow up track ‘The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies‘. There are metal chunks, quiet bass/vocal parts and one of the strongest choruses in their catalogue. Throw in some outrageous lyrics (“I deserve a reward cos I’m the best fuck that you ever had”) and some manic Patton screaming in the outro and it is easy to see why this is a perennial fan favourite.
Big band jazz anyone? ‘Star A.D‘ is an even bigger suprise than ‘Evidence‘. There are saxophones involved and Patton hits us with a very impressive Tom Jones impersonation. This track more than others is the best indicator of how much fun the band was having.
Not too many bands can write a comical yet terrifying metal song about the literal eating of shit but that is precisely what happened with ‘Cuckoo For Caca‘ (”we all retire with a turd on our lips”). Roddy Bottum’s keyboard is downright evil and the rhythm section of Bordin and Gould is at it’s most rollicking.
In an abrupt swing of mood, the record now morphs into the cruisy ‘Caralho Voador‘ with it’s porn film keyboards and Portugese mutterings. It is a tender buffer between bursts of carnage.
As is often FNM‘s way on stage, chaos usually follows the sedate and it doesn’t get much more chaotic than ‘Ugly In The Morning‘. Over the trademark tribal pounding of bass and drums, Patton’s vocals go into some inhuman places on this demented tale of morning after compunction.
‘Digging The Grave‘ is a raw and more or less conventional rock number, it’s fast and condensed nature making it the logical choice for the album’s frist single.
Another odd moment then appears in the form of country tale of remorse ‘Take This Bottle‘. Here Patton takes on the role of remorseful alcoholic promising to make amends in another life (“I can wait to love in heaven”). Its a bit cheesy and you know you probably shouldn’t like it, but you do.
‘King For A Day‘ incorporates the rarely used acoustic guitar and emerges as one of the album’s real standouts. Ambient, dramatic, then ultimately creepy it builds then drops before fading out to the whispered desperation of “don’t let me die with this silly look in my eye”.
Possibly the only real filler on the record, ‘What A Day‘ is a decent yet not particularly striking rock song. Still, at two minutes and thirty seven seconds it doesn’t hold you up for too long.
The suprises keep popping up right down to the record’s conclusion with ‘The Last To Know‘ being FNM‘s take on the power ballad, albeit a rather meaty one.
Closer ‘Just A Man‘ is an inexplicable dip into the world of gospel. Again, it is not something remotely hinted at in earlier releases and was confusing for the first few listens. It’s grandiose nature makes it a fitting conclusion to a surreal journey.
Fast forwarding to 2015 and KFADFFAL still makes for an entertaining ride. Commercially it did not fare as well as breakthough album The Real Thing or follow up Angel Dust but the variety on display via it’s frequent moodswings ensure it remains a favourite among hradcore fans. No doubt to the band’s amusement and/or disgust, attempts to capture the FNM sound played a large part in the birth of the deplorable nu-metal genre. The late nineties saw a number of watered down wannabes but none came remotely close.
In being themselves, FNM remain unique and untouchable.