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Faith No More: The Real Thing

Consider these amazing vocalists: Bruce Dickinson, James Labrie, Ray Alder, Zak Stevens, Matt Barlow, and last but not least the amazing Mike Patton. Any idea what they all have in common? None of them were the original/founding members of their respective bands, yet so tremendous was their input that they simply all helped shapen up the genres in which they sang songs. Such was the case when Mike Patton was asked to replace the original Faith No More vocalist. However, as he joined just before the recordings of the album, we'd get to see see his insane and all-encompassing Mr Bungle vision appear more vividly on the following disc.

The Real Thing is the third Faith No More album, but possibly their biggest mark in the record industry along with their folow-up to this one, Angel Dust. With the inclusion of vocal deity Mike Patton, the album became a major hit, partly due to the success of their biggest-ever single "Epic", one of the most appropriately titled songs ever, living up to its name. With its heavy fusion of funky bass work, majestic synths, and incredibly varied vocal stylings, the piece gives a good idea of what Faith No More was about in 1989, moving from energetic riffs to melodic passages, catchy hooks, and ending with a beautiful solo piano coda. That said, the other ten songs are equally important to this album's success, rendering it among the most influencial pieces of music ever and spawning a large part of the nu-metal scene (with some truly horrendous acts) and superb bands and musicians, including Pain of Salvation and Devin Townsend.

With that noted, if you are only familiar with Faith No More because of their "Epic" video, you need to give The Real Thing a good listen. Its diverse nature, amazing songmanship, and terrific songwriting were truly ground-breaking given the time of its release. The fiercely melodic synth patterns on "From Out of Nowhere" emphasized Patton's catchy vocal skills; while the heavy "Falling to Pieces" introduced Billy Gould's mesmerizing funky bass lines peeking through layered synth fogs. The bass sound is huge, especially during the brief solo section, and feature him doing some nimble slaps and formulating the classic Faith No More sound. On another note, "Surprise! You're Dead!" is a piece that combines the band's humourous and aggressive elements; stomping guitar chords crash over cheesy lyrics (hence the Devin Townsend comparison above).

The band is also capable of crafting atmosphere like no other. The mostly acoustic-driven "Zombie Eaters", supplemented by lucid synth layers in its first half and crushing rhythm slam in the second, is actually a very moving ballad given Patton's indelible vocal performance. The band digs deeper, highlighting their progressive and instrumental abilities on the eight-plus-minute title track. Mike Bordin's drumming is beyond amazing, so restraint yet so powerful. Roddy Bottum on keyboards is the master of sound effects and waves of noise, creating tense silences and frenetic interplay. Jim Martin on guitars to this day remains among the most overlooked players in history; he has a style all his own, and he is able to play both metallic riffs that sear your face and evocative guitar textures that elevate the piece providing intense dynamics. The already mentioned Gould and Patton are the other components that make this possibly the best work on the album, especially considering Patton's schizophrenic vocal style that ranges from sick whispers to ear-bleeding screaming. The instrumental piece "Woodpecker from Mars" is more of a progressive metal track, thick with heavy riffage, sturdy bass, Arabic synth melodies, and atmospheric breakdowns that evoke songs played by a space rock band. Martin's guitar feedback becomes almost drone-like at one point, going on and on up until its powerful climax. The drumming deserves all your attention: great tone and great fills. And the ending of the track is masterfully intense.

Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" is covered perfectly on track ten. The guitar work is phenomenal underpinned by subtle funky bass. Whilst it sees the band staying true to the Sabbath sound, they also infuse it with a distinct Faith No More style, particularly in the way Jim Martin interprets Iommi's ideas. The ending of "The Morning After" is important in that it remains among Faith No More's most ripped-off songwriting traits by sad nu-metal bands butchering their sound and writing terrible angst-written lyrics, thus totally missing the point.

The Real Thing is the album that established Faith No More as a truly gifted and unique band in a world full of cheesy glam rock and second class Bay Area thrashers. Even though all of their Patton-era material is essential, pick this one up first to discover the world of quality alternative rock in the early 90's. You need this album in your collection.

Track Listing

  1. From Out of Nowhere
  2. Epic
  3. Falling to Pieces
  4. Surprise! You're Dead!
  5. Zombie Eaters
  6. The Real Thing
  7. Underwater Love
  8. The Morning After
  9. Woodpecker From Mars
  10. War Pigs
  11. Edge of the World

Added: December 9th 2010
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: The Real Thing at Amazon.com
Hits: 1767
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Faith No More: The Real Thing
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-12-09 15:18:04
My Score:

An "Epic" Album

The Real Thing was a huge leap forward for Faith No More. This was the album that would introduce the world to one of history's greatest rock vocalists, spawn several massive hits, and go on to be considered one of the best rock albums from its era. The difference between this and the underdeveloped previous albums from Faith No More is almost inexplicable. Even though The Real Thing isn't my favorite album from this U.S. powerhouse, this is an album that is absolutely essential for any fan of rock, metal, or otherwise. If you want to understand the first thing about the music scene at the birth of the 90's, this needs to be in your collection. Almost everything about The Real Thing is pure gold - the vocals from Mike Patton are (expectedly) amazing, the songwriting is fun and intriguing, and the musicianship is great as well. This is the album where Faith No More finally decided to add that extra coating of polish that they had been missing, and it surely paid off.

Musically, this is even more eclectic than the earlier Faith No More albums. Expect a mix of funk, heavy metal, pop rock, alternative rock, progressive rock/metal, hip hop, and jazz rock, just to name a few. Songs like the smash-hit "Epic" lead more towards the hip-hop/funk metal side of the band, whereas a song like "The Real Thing" is almost pure progressive metal. Even though every song won't satisfy a purist of any single genre, people with open minds should love every song here. The first 6 songs tend to be stronger than the final 5, but this is just a generalization. When you consider a song like "Edge of the World", which features some great lounge-like piano playing, or their great cover of Black Sabbath's immortal classic, "War Pigs", my generalization really isn't a big deal. This entire album is great, despite a bit of "top-heavy syndrome".

One thing that was always interesting about Faith No More was their slightly twisted lyrics, and that shines ever so brightly on The Real Thing. Just listen to a song like "Zombie Eaters" and you'll know what I mean. The lyrics are often critical towards something, but are presented in a humorous and twisted way. All of the lyrics were written by FNM's new vocalist Mike Patton (aside from the cover of the Black Sabbath song "War Pigs"), and his delivery of the lyrics is also noteworthy. Anyone who knows the man's music knows what a mind-blowing vocalist he is, and that's no exception on The Real Thing. Even though he would have some even better vocal performances on some future releases, his vocals are a lot of what makes this album so great.

The production sounds great. The sound is distinctly of the late eighties/early nineties without that awful synthetic sound. This is a job well done on behalf of Mark Wallace and Faith No More.

Conclusion:

Even though The Real Thing isn't my favorite Faith No More album, calling it anything less than essential is a crime. If you like rock music at all, do yourself a favor and pick this up - you won't be disappointed. The Real Thing is worth 4.5 stars for sure. Everything about this album is spectacular, and even though they would become even greater on Angel Dust, this is still one hell of an album that came "from out of nowhere". Essential!



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