Faith No More - The Real Thing
Slash Records
Experimental Alt. Metal
11 songs (55:25)
Release year: 1989
Faith No More
Reviewed by Goat

Mike Patton joining Faith No More in 1988 (dropping out of university and writing all the lyrics for The Real Thing in just two weeks) took a decent band that was struggling to find relevance after two average albums, and turned them into a superstar act. Although I think Chuck Mosely's time with the band has its own highlights, it's hard to deny how much better Faith No More became on The Real Thing, injecting fresh life into the songwriting and gaining a massive hit with first single Epic. The band introduced a variety of new influences here, from Funk to Prog, and this is still for many their finest moment (Rolling Stone magazine especially seems to hate everything that came after it) although I personally prefer Angel Dust, as the experimental moments are better incorporated and the overall atmosphere is much weirder.

That's not to denigrate The Real Thing, by any means. Mike Patton has to work very hard indeed to disappoint me, and twenty years ago he was a genuine find, a off-kilter talent whose voice was probably one of the most unique ever to hit the radios. The songwriting here is little short of perfect; there are absolutely no filler tracks, and although it lacks the frenzied Avant-Garde feel of Angel Dust (the songs here were written prior to Mike's joining the band) it's still incredibly good. From Out Of Nowhere, the album opener, simply explodes into life, catchy as hell keyboard melodies interweaving with the heavy metal guitar and funky rhythm section, all with Mike's unique vocals on the top, and it just gets better from then on. Epic gets a lot of hatred from true metal types thanks to the rapped verses and bass-driven delivery - yes, it would go on to influence many a shit band, but it's impossible to deny that it's a great song, infectious as hell, mixing the various elements together wonderfully without any jarring at all.

One of the great things about The Real Thing is the sheer variety at play in the songwriting. I hesitate to describe tracks like Falling To Pieces as Pop Metal, but that's a great way of describing them; genuinely catchy songs that are written to appeal, yet never becoming simplistic or condescending to the listener at all. This is intelligent music, written to appeal to intelligent people, and the sheer variety at play is astonishing each time you listen - the Thrashy Surprise! You're Dead! (with Mike's heaviest vocals on the album) and the melodic epicness of Zombie Eaters are directly next to each other on the tracklisting, for example, and few bands can write an eight-minute song as amazing as the title track.

I was actually originally planning on writing this album up as an archive, not having listened to it in a while, but I'd forgotten just how damn good it was. There isn't a single filler track, even the oft-forgotten likes of Underwater Love and The Morning After being great songs, whilst kickass instrumental Woodpeckers From Mars mixes pounding riffage and eastern melody to wonderful effect, spaced-out psychedelia towards the end brilliantly forecasting the following cover of Black Sabbath classic War Pigs. Faith No More originally planned to cover Sabbath due to Iommi and co.'s lack of popularity at the time, yet this backfired as the cover endeared them to a Metallic fanbase and made the band more popular! It's a great cover, faithful to the original style and atmosphere but with that special FNM vibe to it, and along with the laid-back creepiness of Edge Of The World brings the album to a close nicely.

Alternative Metal is often the target of those who see it as the young upstart to 'proper' Metal's innate superiority, but The Real Thing alone is proof that the genre did have something to say that was worth listening to. Throughout the album, it's not hard to hear that the band's roots are about as Metal as it's possible to get, and although this may have helped open the door to the less enjoyable examples of Alt. Metal, the fact remains that The Real Thing is a terrific album, a highlight of the 80s and a near-peerless example of stellar songwriting.

Killing Songs :
All! not a weak track to be heard...
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Faith No More that we have reviewed:
Faith No More - Sol Invictus reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Faith No More - Album of the Year reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
Faith No More - King For A Day... Fool For A Lifetime reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Faith No More - Angel Dust reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
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