Faith No More – Angel Dust

This was my first transformational album.  My older brother and I had a very fractious relationship as children.  We went to separate schools, had separate groups of friends, and were for the most part physically separated at all times.  The only thing we shared was the wall that divided our bedrooms.  We had a few common interests: the incredible movies UHF and Better Off Dead, sports, and the band Faith No More.  These mutual affections still didn’t bind us.  I can remember our local Blockbuster had two copies of UHF.  My parents took me to rent a movie one night and I brought UHF to the clerk and he bemoaned “Y’all already have this rented-out at your house.”  My flushed mom would respond that we needed this copy as well. He and I just couldn’t be in the same room together.

He, being older, had a much better sound system in his room than me.  His speakers were positioned against our common wall but facing the opposite direction of my room so the sound did not flow towards me.  We had plaster walls which actually did a pretty sound job of absorbing sound (though not bodies).  I was in 7th grade and he was in 9th.  I was still listening to mostly whatever was on the radio.  He was a big fan of Guns N Roses, Rush and Metallica.  Three bands I never cared for and still don’t.  One night as I was doing homework (something else we didn’t have in common and he proudly still boasts never doing!) I heard “Land of Sunshine” explode through my wall sending my body into shivers.  Song after song the goosebumps would not go away.  “Everything’s Ruined,” “Midlife Crisis,” “Smaller and Smaller,” “Crack Hitler,” “Be Aggressive,” “A Small Victory.”  WHAT IS HE PLAYING? I’M GOING TO RUN THROUGH OUR WALL! I MUST HAVE IT.  

Now came the hard part…figuring out who this band was.  Getting in and out of his room unscathed and with the required new information was Mission Impossible with dire consequences.  The stars had to properly align: he needed to be gone for a substantial period for me to be able to play as many unknown CD’s as possible, I had to have that much alone time at home, and I had to leave no trace.  And hardest of all, I had to fight every wanting fiber in my body not to throw the Rush cds out his window.  Fortunately, the Angel Dust case shell was atop his stereo.  The great egret was staring at me taunting me to take the CD as it would its own worthy prey.  Every time he left for a significant period of time, I would snatch the CD and play it.  And play it.  And play it again until I knew he was close to being home.  Sure, I could’ve bought it (which I eventually had to do) but I did not want to give him the pleasure of having discovered something I now love!

From the very first track, the album catapults us into a realm where musical genres intertwine and boundaries blur. Mike Patton’s vocal range becomes a weapon of sonic exploration, capable of morphing from soulful croons to guttural roars, often within the same song.  Angel Dust’s influence reverberates through countless genres, from alternative rock to metal and beyond. Artists have drawn inspiration from its audacious eclecticism, and its themes continue to resonate in this weirdo, absurdist, ever-evolving world. Angel Dust remains an enigma that defies interpretation. Its allure lies not in its “easy” accessibility, but in its complexity and willingness to challenge. To listen to Angel Dust is to embark on a journey, an exploration of the dark corners of the human experience through the lens of unbridled creativity.  Who else could do what Mike Patton does with Lionel Richie’s “Easy?”

I still love this album.  I love almost everything Mike Patton has done with Faith No More and without (Mr. Bungle).  Coming off a very commercially successful album, the incredible The Real Thing, FNM’s record label was preparing for the next album to be the massive radio booming all converting golden goose…but they got the egret instead.  Angel Dust.  The band gave the industry the proverbial finger.  We are not your tools! 

So, dear daughter, readers and music voyagers, if you dare to tread where sonic boundaries disintegrate, if you yearn for an auditory experience that questions, captivates, and leaves you spellbound, then Angel Dust by Faith No More demands a place on your shelf. It’s not just an album; it’s an expedition into the unknown, a testament to the power of musical artistry to provoke, evoke, and endure.

I’m happy to say that my brother and I are very close these days.

“You’re perfect, yes, it’s true.  But without me, you’re only you.” – “Midlife Crisis”

“If I speak at one constant volume

At one constant pitch

At one constant rhythm right into your ear, you still won’t hear

You still won’t hear.  YOU STILL WON’T HEAR.” – “A Small Victory” 

Favorite Tracks: All 

Pressing: Music On Vinyl MOVLP813 (Buyers returning their flawed copies to location of purchase received this repress by return, identifiable by the following matrix for the side B “95945 2B MOVLP 813” in the runout area) Europe Repress. 2013.