Faith No More Albums Ranked From Worst To Best: the ultimate ranking of an “epic” discography.
Has there ever been a band as hard to categorize as Faith No More? While they’re best known for their rap-rock hit Epic, that song doesn’t even begin to cover all their other musical tastes.
The band have mixed and matched genres as disparate as R&B, death-metal, world music, electronica, prog, and alternative rock in a glorious patchwork quilt of sound.
Their eclectic nature was clear from their start in the early 80’s. The group was fronted by Courtney Love from 82-84, followed by the snot-nosed punk stylings of Chuck Mosley. But the band didn’t find their footing until golden voiced Mike Patton joined in 1989, utilizing his six-octave range to push them through exciting sonic terrain and ably surviving and adapting to an ever shifting lineup of guitarists.
So in honor of their new album and Rhino’s deluxe reissues of Angel Dust and The Real Thing arriving June 8th, here’s our definitive ranking of the band’s studio albums from worst to best and all points in-between (keeping in mind that their table scraps are superior to most artists best efforts).
If you’d like to own any of these albums (including deluxe reissues), simply click on the album image to buy on Amazon, or click the title (highlighted in blue) to get it on iTunes.
So without any further ado, let’s begin:
7.We Care a Lot (1985)
The band’s début album featuring vocalist Chuck Mosley only hinted at their potential. The snarky self-titled track would become a hit, but only after it was re-recorded in 1987. The original lacks the group’s tightly knotted rhythms, filling somewhat listless.
Mosley’s limited vocal style also grates in large doses. But it does have a few highlights, including their live staple As The Worm Turns, the New Wave thrash of Arabian Disco and the horror-tinged Pills For Breakfast.
6. Introduce Yourself (1987)
In addition to the muscular rendition of We Care A Lot, Introduce Yourself shows off improved chops: the rhythm section of drummer Mike Bordin and Billy Gould is tight, Jim Martin’s metal riffs feel more assured, and Roddy Bottum’s keyboards add eerie counterpoint.
But, we’re still stuck with Mosley, and while his bratty style works on We Care A Lot, the off-key warble loses its charm on Faster Disco and Chinese Arithmetic.
But there are noteworthy moments: the playful punk-funk of Introduce Yourself, and head-banging album closers Blood and Spirit.
And one must give credit to Mosley for adding his anarchic, absurdist wit to his lyrics, a torch that Patton would carry upon his arrival.
5. Album of the Year (1997)
Foreshadowing their 1998 implosion, Album of the Year shows the group in a somewhat distracted state, with Patton splitting his time between multiple musical projects, and Bottum playing with his indie act Imperial Teen.
As a result the album is a mixed bag, with tracks like the Tom Jones-ish She Loves Me Not, and low-key numbers Helpless and Home Sick Home falling flat.
But while panned upon it’s release, there’s plenty to enjoy: Collision offers a massive riff over oceanic synths and Patton’s cavernous wail, Stripsearch melds trip-hop with metal, Mouth To Mouth fuses Middle Eastern keyboards with a slamming syncopated riff, and singles Last Cup Of Sorrow and Ashes To Ashes do what FNM does best: chill inducing anthems.
And Patton’s witty lyrics were quite prescient on his internet inspired Sitting Naked In Front Of The Computer. The album marked the début of new guitarist Jon Hudson, who still holds six string duties with the band.
4. Sol Invictus (2015)
With an 18 year wait in-between albums, Sol Invictus had a lot to live up to, and it’s a testament to the group’s strength that it largely succeeds.
Patton’s vocals still sound amazing, and the group continue to walk their singular path on tunes like the sprawling Matador, propulsive Superhero, and the ominous Cone of Shame.
But at only 10 tracks, it feels shy of songs that capture the band’s weirder and heavier side, and tunes like Sunny Side Up and Mother****er feel a tad undercooked. Likewise, the production feels a bit arid compared to the more widescreen sheen of past glories. But that’s nitpicking: it’s one of the best comeback albums in recent memory.
3. The Real Thing (1989)
Thanks to the smash hit Epic, and minor hit Falling To Pieces, The Real Thing broke FNM across the globe. The band, along with The Cult and Jane’s Addiction pioneered fusing metal with post punk and alternative, but Faith No More were far more experimental than their peers.
Patton would arrive shortly after the firing of Mosley during The Real Thing sessions, thus his album contributions were limited to his powerhouse vocals and imaginative lyrics (with songs told from the perspective of sexual predators, vampires, and tyrannical babies). They proved more than enough.
Between the thrashing Surprise You’re Dead, the cocktail lounge of Edge Of the World, the haunting Zombie Eaters, the euphoric title track and prog instrumental Woodpecker From Mars (featuring Bordin’s amazing tribal drumming), there’s zero filler, resulting in album that inspired enough lifelong fans to cancel out all those who unfairly called them one-hit wonders.
2.King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime (1995)
Another album, another lineup change, King followed the sacking of guitarist Jim Martin, who had become unhappy with their burgeoning musical diversity.
In his wake, the group hired Trey Spruance, guitarist for Patton’s experimental rock group Mr. Bungle, and his Zappa-esque style fit in perfectly during his short tenure.
He also helped fill the void left by Roddy Bottum, whose input was less pronounced while dealing with the death of his father and consoling Courtney Love in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. But despite all the upheaval, it’s a remarkably strong album, featuring the unhinged metal songs Ugly in the Morning and Get Out, strident anthems Ricochet and Digging A Grave, Brazilian lounge lament Carahlo Voador and country ballad Take This Bottle.
Lyrically, it’s one of Patton’s funniest to date, whether chronicling cutthroat corporate America (Gentle Art of Making Enemies), the trials of daily living (What A Day)…and poop. Yep. The funky Evidence and sonic horror show Cuckoo For Caca are both about poop.
Sadly, the album was a commercial flop, making it a criminally underrated rock album.
1. Angel Dust (1992)
Following the success of The Real Thing, Faith No More’s label anxiously awaited a follow-up containing the next Epic. The band however, had no interest in repeating themselves, and made Angel Dust instead, one of the gutsiest and amazing major label albums ever.
Patton ditched the nasal whine he employed on The Real Thing, allowing the full scope and muscularity of his voice to be revealed. Just listen to his operatic climax of Land of Sunshine, or the unholy shrieks in Smaller and Smaller to hear his evolution.
Musically the band covered wide territory: the skulking sludge metal of Jizzlobber, the blaxploitation fueled Crack Hitler and the Queen-worthy Everything’s Ruined all pointed to a group whose musical ability matched their grand vision.
Production wise, it’s a marvel as well. Producer Matt Wallace added inventive samples (from sources as diverse as Beastie Boys and Diamanda Galas among many) to the song arrangements, culminating in luxurious ear candy, as made clear on the brooding single Midlife Crisis, the rural nightmare RV and Malpractice, a harrowing tale of cosmetic surgery addiction.
Angel Dust was mildly successful in America, but massive worldwide, making them bigger abroad than in their homeland, a factoid that confounds stateside fans like myself. But with nearly universal critical acclaim in the years since its release, its hallowed spot as the ultimate FNM album is secured.
So that wraps up our list of Faith No More Albums Ranked From Worst To Best. Do you agree? Disagree? Now it’s your turn to comment with your own definitive ranking.
You can order Sol Invictus, and the special editions of Angel Dust and The Real Thing via Amazon below.
[amazon_image id=”B00TZE3W2U” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Sol Invictus[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B00WGFCTJM” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Angel Dust (2CD)(Explicit)(Deluxe)[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B00WGFBZ2Y” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Real Thing (2CD)(Explicit)(Deluxe)[/amazon_image]