I have been listening to FNM since the Spring of 1990, when my high school homie Shane Claflin played me his cassette copy of The Real Thing he had just purchased after school.
At this time, I was the kind of kid who had the music taste of well, a 41-year-old music journalist, which is what I am (or at least what I tout myself to be) these days. Spike, Full Moon Fever, Traveling Wilburys, Lou Reed’s New York and Steel Wheels by the Rolling Stones were all in heavy rotation on my Sony Sports Walkman. But then I heard The Real Thing, an album that sounded like Metallica, The Cure and Fishbone were all kind of pureed together into this congenial mass of skate kid thrash groove that was unlike anything I’d ever heard in my life. It was also something I could entirely call my own, unencumbered by the influence of those who had previously weaned my sonic tastes as a young youth and completely in tune with my generation. It made me feel so cool having the likes of “From Out of Nowhere”, “Surprise! You’re Dead!” and “Zombie Eaters” blasting out of my earphones, offering me a sort of force field of individuality and coolness that almost immediately staved off the crooked eyed crowing of the Z Cavaricci-clad mooks who used to break my balls on the regular. Nobody could mess with me when I had The Real Thing roaring in my head.
Twenty-five years later, Faith No More continue to provide that much needed shield of resistance for me as they have in 1990, 1992, 1995 and 1997 with this amazing new album, which finds them in top form as if the near-two decades of their absence as a collective unit never even happened. Patton’s days in side groups like Lovage and Peeping Tom are on display in the melodica-driven grooves of “Rise of the Fall”, while the proto-Anticon hip-hop of “Motherfucker” turns “Epic” into a distant, dated memory when one wants to speak of FNM in the context of their involvement in the genesis of rap metal. Meanwhile, fans of the group at their most savage will surely love the Angel Dust-esque growl of “Separation Anxiety” and the feral grandiloquence of “Matador”, which ranks up there with “Smaller and Smaller” and “King for a Day” as one of the group’s most definitive cuts, and closing cut “From the Dead” is a solid example of their inimitable strengths as pop songwriters.
I may not have the industry clout in 2015 to have gained access into their show in May at New York’s Webster Hall, but that isn’t stopping Sol Invictus from bringing that feeling of invincible cool Faith No More has helped provide for me since the 10th grade.