FAITH NO MORE -- Album of the Year (Slash / Reprise)

To me, Faith No More was one of those bands that basically sucked. There might be a song or two on each CD that was OK, but most of the material was just awful. By 1992, the band released Angel Dust, and the songwriting had improved dramatically. All of a sudden, they had a CD with more than just one or two good songs. Some of the songs actually bordered on brilliance. On the band's seventh CD, Album of the Year, I'm happy to report that the suck ratio has diminished even more.

"Collision" is in your face from the minute the CD starts. It rocks as hard as anything they've done in the past, and easily ranks along with their best tracks. From there, the diversity begins. "Stripsearch" features jungle drums, offset by the band's new guitarist (and long time friend), Jon Hudson. The first single from the CD, "Last Cup of Sorrow" is a musical leap forward for FNM. Its subtle nuances and careful orchestration show a side of the band that most people have never heard.

"Helpless" is one of the CD's best tracks. The verses are mainly acoustic, but the chorus rocks. The only bad thing about the song is that they didn't know when to end it. Aside from that, this is a great tune. The first time I heard "Ashes to Ashes," I thought it was going to be "Epic" part two. I kept waiting for the 'Yooouuuu waaaannnt it allll, but you can't haaaaaave it' to come in on the chorus. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), that didn't happen. This is another of the many highlights on the CD.

After "Ashes to Ashes" comes another surprise. "She Loves Me Not" is an R&B-flavored track that, strangely enough, almost sounds like something you'd hear on a Prince album. The last song on the CD, "Pristina," has a droning chord progression, but it's one of those songs that will be great to hear in concert. Album of the Year is a musically diverse collection of tunes guaranteed to please existing fans, and quite possibly win some new ones as well.

© 1997 Steve Marshall