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Faith No More

Angel Dust

RS: 4of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 4.5of 5 Stars

1992

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Does emotional music have quite an effect on you?" asks singer Mike Patton on "Land of Sunshine," the first track on Faith No More's astonishing new album. That question is the perfect tag line for Angel Dust, a roiling, musically adventurous record that represents yet another leap forward for a combo that broke through by cramming together rap's vocal cadences, metal's brute force and progressive rock's pompous keyboards on "Epic," the hit single from its 1989 album The Real Thing.

One thing's certain: Success hasn't made Faith No More complacent. From the art-damaged death metal of "Malpractice" and "Jizzlobber" to the madman-with-a-megaphone vocals on "Crack Hitler," the bizarre Tin Pan Alley/country hybrid "RV" and the jarring use of offbeat samples ("Smaller and Smaller" features an aboriginal chant), Angel Dust fairly explodes with the sound of genres colliding. The group once again shared production chores with Matt Wallace, and from the sound of things, the game plan was to create a rock equivalent to the dense soundscapes pioneered by the Bomb Squad, Public Enemy's aptly named production team.

Well, they succeeded. Angel Dust burns with an unholy intensity. One could quibble about the indecipherability of Patton's vocals, but he gets his point across more through attitude than literal meaning. A perusal of the lyric sheet sheds much heat and some light on matters, revealing a lot of opaque Beat poesy concerning stuff like the cyclical nature of parental failure and homosexual sadomasochism as a metaphor for God knows what, but titles like "Caffeine," "MidLife Crisis," "Everything's Ruined" and "Be Aggressive" pretty much clue you in as to where Patton's coming from.

The album closes with an accordion-propelled version of John Barry's "Midnight Cowboy," its pensive melody providing a soothing contrast to the nerve-frazzling apocalyptic rock that precedes it. Angel Dust is Faith No More's most challenging effort to date. Those brave enough to sample its musical wares will be rewarded with a listening experience that's thoroughly exhilarating, absolutely mood altering and completely addictive.

TOM SINCLAIR

(Posted: Sep 3, 1992)

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