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Ranking: Every Faith No More Song from Worst to Best

on May 13, 2015, 3:00pm
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Avant-garde, funk metal, post-apocalyptic lounge … however one chooses to describe Faith No More, odds are good he or she will be right, in some capacity or another. Born as Faith No Man in 1981, with four notable lead vocalists and enumerable stylistic shifts, worldwide acclaim through genres galore never sounded so engrossingly, pleasantly bizarre.

Fronted initially by singer Mike Morris, he was later abandoned by Billy Gould, Roddy Bottum, Jim Martin, and Mike Bordin in 1982, who quickly reformed under the moniker Faith No More. After a then-unknown Courtney Love tried her hand at leadership, Chuck Mosley was put at the helm for two LPs before getting fired due to erratic stage behavior and heavy drug use.

Ultimately, it was Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton who earned mainstay traction and over two weeks had constructed every lyric that inevitably became Faith No More’s breakout hit, 1989’s The Real Thing. Single upon video single garnered major renown, skyrocketing FNM into alt-metal superstardom, one oddly-shaped LP at a time.

Faith No More new album Sol Invictus

As each subsequent release became more sonically foreign to major labels and mainstream audiences, and a string of varied guitarists came and went, Faith No More sadly disbanded following 1997’s Album of the Year. Mike Patton, no worse for the wear, had begun numerous side-projects in the meantime, including a stint with his previous act. The rest was history, until 2009’s Download Festival reunion performance spurned rumors of new material, thus culminating in 2015’s independent release, Sol Invictus.

To commemorate their triumphant return, we’ve sorted through 126 album cuts, official performances, singles, and soundtracks to bring you raw, uncut Faith No More, from worst to best. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the real thing, and if you like your rock and roll on the weird, wild side, look no further.

Note: No bootlegs or remixes have been included, so Courtney Love’s only known recorded contribution did not appear. However, as an honorable mention, you can find her 1984 rendition of “Blood” on YouTube.

126. “Introduce Yourself” [4-Track Demos]

Who Cares a Lot? (1998)

We kick this off with a sloppy Chuck Mosley demo. He has a fleck of surfer-bum allure, but does anyone care?

125. “Greed”

We Care a Lot (1985)

Awful ’80s syncopation decided to shit on a cassette and let a stoner chant prayers over it.

124. “Spirit”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

Basically the prior installment’s twin, save for slightly improved production value, and a switch from forgettable Ministry to generic California punk.

123. “As The Worm Turns” [Live]

“Epic” (B-Side) (1990)

Mike Patton’s first appearance covers a Mosley-era tune that (strangely) only Mosley could do. Their styles are vastly dissimilar, exacerbated here in concert.

122. “As The Worm Turns” [Re-Recorded]

“Midlife Crisis” (B-Side) (1992)

It even turns out that the in-studio reworking is only a marginal improvement.

121. “Highway Star” [Live]

Who Cares A Lot? (1998)

Our first truly gimmicky throwaway and one best left to the cutting-room floor. Speaking of which…

120. “Das Schutzenfest”

Songs To Make Love To EP (1992)

…does the band ever have trouble discerning the difference between genuine art and genuine sarcasm?

119. “I Wanna Fuck Myself”

“Ricochet” (B-Side) (1995)

An extremely brazen feat of static noise that is virtually incomprehensible, though nothing else quite like it exists in the FNM catalog. Does anyone else sense some Tomahawk foreshadowing?

118. “Another Body Murdered” [ft. Boo-Yaa Tribe]

Judgment Night OST

A collaboration with hip-hop group Boo-Yaa Tribe, this song appeared on a soundtrack album full of strange rap/rock bedfellows, so it works … if only in context.

117. “Collision” [Live]

“Stripsearch” (B-Side) (1997)

 

The only recorded live rendition of this 1997 album cut does not do Album of the Year justice at all.

116. “A Small Victory” [Live In Munich, Germany – November 9, 1992]

“I’m Easy/Be Aggressive” (B-Side) (1992)

That introduction is just painful.

115. “We Care A Lot” [Live]

“Evidence” (B-Side) (1995)

On the off-chance Mike Patton can do a Chuck Mosley impression semi-decently … some of the time. The rest of the band just sound like spectators though, and that ain’t cool.

114. “Falling To Pieces”

Live At the Brixton Academy (1990)

Faith No More has exactly one official live LP. The Pee-wee Herman vocals and the annoying chamber echo are a testament as to why.

113. “RV”

Angel Dust (1992)

Roddy Bottum plays keyboards over Patton in “scare your ass” spoken word mode, as if this was a mock jingle. Wait, was it satire? Was that the point? Either way, it’s dumb.

112. “From The Dead”

Sol Invictus (2015)

Sol Invictus’ dull closer is not horrid, just forgettable. And we’re relatively sure the song title is referencing their return in a less than subtle manner.

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

111. “Paths Of Glory”

Album Of The Year (1997)

Much like this mediocre Album of the Year track.

110. “Midnight Cowboy” [Live]

“I Started A Joke” (B-Side)

A live snippet from an otherwise better studio output. There is so much more meat to offer, why only use a minute of the material at all? Fond preview, we suppose.

109. “Edge Of The World”

Live At the Brixton Academy (1990)

Patton goes full-blown mumbler, the band goes deadpan lounge, the listeners simply go dead.

108. “We Care A Lot”

Live At the Brixton Academy (1990)

This song with anyone other than Mosley singing it just sounds off. This was one of his better contributions — a parody of “We Are the World” that works, if only in studio.

107. “From Out Of Nowhere”

Live At the Brixton Academy (1990)

I am really glad Patton’s voice cracked a tad more before Angel Dust, or later shows would have been absolute hell.

106. “Midlife Crisis” [Live]

“Everything’s Ruined” (B-Side) (1992)

Whoever was running these soundboards should be fired immediately. Mike Bordin’s drums sound like empty beer kegs left backstage by roadies.

105. “Ashes To Ashes” [Live From Phoenix Festival]

“Stripsearch” (B-Side) (1997)

Are these the same techs? What happened to microphone volumes? The single audible vocal is the chorus, and the guitar’s screaming worse than a dying cat.

104. “The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies” [Live In Rotterdam]

“Ashes To Ashes” (B-Side) (1997)

Soundchecking appears to be greatly improved. It’s only the performance that sucks.

103. “Mark Bowen” [Live In Munich, Germany – November 9, 1992]

“I’m Easy/Be Aggressive” (B-Side) (1992)

Covering old material from a previous frontman is not wise, in this case. Patton and Mosley are from very different planets, and this song was garbage anyhow.

102. “Mark Bowen”

We Care A Lot (1985)

Seriously, who is Mark Bowen, and why is he not worth a decent song?

101. “The Crab Song”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

Like an STD with a known cure you kept for sentimental value.

100. “Anne’s Song”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

The chunky bass lines that dominated the band’s first three LPs are delicious, even here. Why did we have to ruin it with another episode of Mosley’s Poetry Corner? And why can’t Anne go into the fridge? Did she eat your Sizzler leftovers? How was this a single?

99. “R n’ R”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

No rest and relaxation, no rock and roll, just perfunctory chaos.

98. “The Real Thing”

Live At the Brixton Academy (1990)

Jim Martin’s guitar is stellarly displayed, whereas Patton is so off his game it’s tragic.

97. “Woodpecker From Mars” [Live]

“From Out Of Nowhere” (1990 Reissue B-Side)

 

This stunning instrumental hailing originally from The Real Thing is brooding, baffling, all-around aesthetically pleasing. Alternatively, its live counterpart falls depressingly flat.

96. “Underwater Love” [Live]

“Falling To Pieces” (B-Side) (1990)

This original The Real Thing cut could only have existed on said ’89 breakthrough; it fits nowhere else. Not even in concert, apparently.

95. “Zombie Eaters”

Live At the Brixton Academy (1990)

And here we see another shining example of why Live at the Brixton Academy was a bad idea to put to tape.

94. “This Guy’s In Love With You” [Live]

The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009)

Patton has become well-known in various circles for tackling a multitude of pop standards, and this is no exception. If only the sound were 10 times better and this had been a solo concert.

93. “Epic”

Live At the Brixton Academy (1990)

This song’s popularity allowed Faith No More the courtesy of playing Brixton Academy, and its intro here is pretentious at worst, cheesy at best.

92. “Song Of Liberty”

Quiet In Heaven/Song Of Liberty EP (1982)

During the Faith No Man days, they heavily emulated ’80s goth and pseudo-political consciousness, and it sort of functions. You can hear hints of future elements bleeding through bad playback quality.

91. “Let’s Lynch The Landlord”

Songs To Make Love To EP (1992)

Boys and girls, we have a Dead Kennedys cover, and while it’s not really spectacular, it’s a novelty worth noting.

90. “Sunny Side Up”

Sol Invictus (2015)

Obvious sun reference is obvious. This song qualifies as nearly “RV”-level filler on an otherwise awesomely scatter-shot comeback record.

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

89. “Instrumental”

Who Cares A Lot? (1998)

This random instrumental is not really good or bad, just middling and unnecessary.

88. “Mouth To Mouth”

Album Of The Year (1997)

This odd trinket seems at home in an Aero the Acro-Bat score. Roddy Bottum, however, shows off his awesome improvisational chops.

87. “Arabian Disco”

We Care A Lot (1985)

Though riding stronger keyboards than most of 1985’s We Care a Lot, the offbeat arrangement is still minutely irritating.

86. “Faster Disco”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

Bombastic instrumentation nailed into the coffin by a drug-addled Mosley yelp. If anyone has this sophomore release with no vocal track, we’ll gladly pay you.

85. “Introduce Yourself”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

There is only one reason to mention this title track anywhere — Bordin’s drum fill during the chorus.

84. “Absolute Zero”

The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009)

Remember that earlier prayer-type opening verse from “Greed”? This is how it’s supposed to be done.

83. “We Care A Lot”

We Care A Lot (1985)

A tongue-in-cheek jab at the popularity of collaborative pop singles for charity, Chuck Mosley and company shout at the mics with sarcastic fervor; however, shoddy production holds this original take far below that of its ’87 Introduce Yourself do-over.

82. “Pills For Breakfast”

We Care A Lot (1985)

Dark instrumentals are a good try, and at least Billy Gould’s bass gets some solid airtime.

81. “Quiet In Heaven”

Quiet In Heaven/Song Of Liberty EP (1982)

Faith No Man’s more indelibly positive mark on the world. We give it an A for effort, and there is evidence here of possible Joy Division influences.

80. “The Morning After”

The Real Thing (1989)

As a result of the transition from one eccentric vocalist to another, the members of Faith No More still couldn’t shake certain rhythms. This song is proof that time to heal is important.

79. “I Won’t Forget You”

The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009)

This is a rare occasion where Mike Patton’s voice experiments ruin a studio cut. Good thing it’s a spare part, and one of the better ones, despite a couple of badly tuned strings.

78. “Home Sick Home”

Album Of The Year (1997)

The orchestration is stellar, the vocals are on point, yet at no juncture do the two seem to cohesively connect.

77. “Got That Feeling”

Album Of The Year (1997)

Sounds like an Angel Dust scrap that was poorly rewritten in 1997.

76. “Death March”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

LA Beatnicks do not belong in this discography. Period.

75. “Ugly In The Morning”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

What another band parodying Faith No More might sound like.

74. “Cuckoo For Caca”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

Strong, forceful start peters out into screaming no one really dares to decipher.

73. “The Jungle”

We Care A Lot (1985)

We’re not sure if someone demanded that Faith No More needed additional distortions in the vocal tracks, but it’s not like cowbell; you can’t just throw it in willy-nilly.

72. “Pristina”

Album Of The Year (1997)

“Pristina” is one of those kinds of songs that doesn’t seem to quite know what mood it’s aiming for. When it works, it works well. Otherwise, it’s cumbersome.

71. “Star A.D.”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

An odd, jazzy treasure buried in King for a Day… that feels appropriate, in hindsight. Cue the King Crimson references in 3…2…1…

70. “The Grade”

“From Out Of Nowhere” (B-Side) (1989)

Jaunty, repetitive, boring acoustic session. Brownie points for sounding absolutely nothing like anything else from The Real Thing.

69. “Underwater Love”

The Real Thing (1989)

No one could think of a better numerical rank for this song.

68. “Hippie Jam Song”

The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009)

Understandably a rarity, the only flaw here is an unavoidable comparison to the Spin Doctors. Make of that what you will.

67. “Get Out”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

Had this not come out when it did, we’re sure somebody would have mistaken it for a Hoobastank discard. King For A Day…was extremely hit or miss, and thankfully a majority of the misses started winding down about now.

66. “Jim”

We Care A Lot (1985)

Jim Martin gets to show off some acoustic pickings, Zakk Wylde-style. While not quite his equal, this track’s at least an interesting, peppy garnish to We Care a Lot’s generally downplayed momentum.

65. “Greenfields”

“Digging The Grave” (B-side) (1995)

A haunting spare bit from the King for a Day… sessions, with glimpses of Puscifer before Puscifer existed. Maybe Maynard culled a muse from this; we’ll probably never know.

64. “The Last To Know”

King For A Day…Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

Pure filler, even if a smidge entertaining. Could have done well as an Album of the Year B-side.

63. “Spanish Eyes”

“Ricochet” (B-side) (1995)

I know, I know, it’s a cheap shot to dash another awfully lounge-y bit from the King for a Day… era, but come on. Every member playing here sounds like they would rather be anywhere else. It sounds charming, yet equally half-assed.

62. “New Beginnings”

We Care A Lot (1985)

One part “Sweet Child O’ Mine” mimicry a la Jim Martin, two parts whatever Mosley finally got right about his singing voice. It works. Oddly.

61. “As The Worm Turns”

We Care A Lot (1985)

While Mosley’s voice appears stilted and off-key, this fan favorite from FNM’s debut LP boasts gorgeous piano and thick, ominous progressions akin to latter-day Type O Negative.

60. “Blood”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

And as a fitting segue, Introduce Yourself dons this “As the Worm Turns”-esque follow-up, complete with a nicer opening keyboard arrangement. Very doom and gloom.

59. “The World Is Yours”

Who Cares A Lot? (1998)

Clever sampling, even when it slightly resembles Mortal Kombat. Highly-distorted Mike Patton contribution, not at his best but admirable.

58. “Why Do You Bother?”

We Care A Lot (1985)

Better, faster, darker sounds from early FNM. Excellent use of electronica.

57. “What A Day”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

The aforementioned applies here also, except leaning more to the funk-metal side.

56. “Separation Anxiety”

Sol Invictus (2015)

Sol Invictus appears to be a medley of Faith No More’s entire style catalog, where this one hearkens back to a BDSM equivalent of Angel Dust

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

55. “Matador”

Sol Invictus (2015)

…whereas this could be from King for a Day… territory.

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

54. “Caralho Voador”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

This weirdly specific song about an arrogant prick driving under the influence bears the aptly-chosen Portugese term for “flying dick.” We rest our case.

53. “Easy”

Songs To Make Love To EP (1992)

Lionel Richie should consider himself honored. Viewed as kitsch upon initial release, this is a circumstance where it mystifyingly works, and it’s leaps and bounds in improvement over “This Guy’s in Love with You”.

52. “Rise Of The Fall”

Sol Invictus (2015)

This stylistic crossbreed of Nightmare Before Christmas and Queens of the Stone Age is proof that Faith No More still have it in them to be distortions of their musical landscape on a whim, 18 years later.

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

51. “Stripsearch”

Album Of The Year (1997)

Faith No More’s best use of EDM in its entire career single-handedly manages to make Roddy Bottum terrifying, and it’s rife with remix potential.

50. “She Loves Me Not”

Album Of The Year (1997)

Thinking of this as a distant R&B relative to both “Take This Bottle” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Everything” makes it much easier to swallow. Just go with the flow.

49. “The Big Kahuna”

The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009)

Originally a B-side from “Ashes to Ashes”, this Album of the Year throwaway wound up resurfacing in 2009, and it’s a perfect precursor to entries #51 and #50.

48. “Collision”

Album Of The Year (1997)

Album of the Year’s in-your-face metal opener is extremely reminiscent of “Digging The Grave” in the best ways imaginable, so bonus points for that.

47. “Digging The Grave”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

Raw, aggressive, altogether creepy, this single is a definitive left-field release that comes as no surprise from the King for a Day… lineup.

46. “The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

Half Danzig, half Biafra. We can’t deconstruct the logic of this innuendo-laden romp; we can only ride it out with a Joker grin on our faces.

45. “Surprise! You’re Dead!”

The Real Thing (1989)

The macabre dance-off that is “Surprise! You’re Dead!” was a single from Patton’s first LP appearance. We’re assuming it sold because fans got too scared to say “no.”

44. “Light Up And Let Go”

The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009)

Post-grungy and antagonistic, this obscurity transcends most of the ’09 hits compilation it came with by huge measures.

43. “Black Friday”

Sol Invictus (2015)

Is it about consumerism? Materialism? Is it about a day of the dead? Dead-eyed customers? Maybe retail has a theme song, and cashiers should be issued straitjackets. We would call that spot on.

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

42. “Malpractice”

Angel Dust (1992)

So, this is how emotional molestation gets converted into a nightmarish song. With thunderous applause.

41. “Kindergarten”

Angel Dust (1992)

And this is how growing up feels to a teenager. If he’s a sociopath.

40. “Superhero”

Sol Invictus (2015)

Stylistically, a throwback to King for a Day…, and for what it is, it’s absolutely stunning. Sounds like an electrified spearhead aimed at elected officials who’ve forgotten they were put there by a weary, terrified populous. Talk about knocking someone down a peg.

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

39. “The Cowboy Song”

“From Out Of Nowhere” (B-Side) (1989)

With such a bad title, it’s no wonder this otherwise colorful track, boasting phenomenal keyboard/vocal unison and lyrics about martyrdom, gets overlooked.

38. “From Out Of Nowhere”

The Real Thing (1989)

Brash, silly, and showing off exactly how wild and crazy FNM could get back in the day.

37. “Woodpecker From Mars”

The Real Thing (1989)

Recall that King Crimson reference? It happened again, only three times longer, better executed, and somehow with far less brass.

36. “Be Aggressive”

Angel Dust (1992)

The Frankensteinian love child of Peter Gabriel art-pop and GWAR without costumes or stage blood. Or maybe there is stage blood. Whatever makes them happy.

35. “Sweet Emotion”

The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009)

Lyrics about losing grip with reality and identity, presumably through the lapse of reason associated with “sweet emotion,” this track is fittingly frenetic in its pacing, and Gould’s slapped bass fuels each tiny step toward dementia.

34. “Jizzlobber”

Angel Dust (1992)

Sinister caliope keyboard effects, screwing with our heads since 1992. Assuming one can look past the song title for five seconds.

33. “Cone Of Shame”

Sol Invictus (2015)

Goth done rather correctly. Morose, menacing, shoegaze streaks galore.

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

32. “Smaller And Smaller”

Angel Dust (1992)

Metallica’s S&M should have been more like this. Somebody get Danny Elfman on the phone. We can make it happen.

31. “Just A Man”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

Does what “She Loves Me Not” would later try and fail to do: sound honest.

30. “Epic” [Live]

“Evidence” (B-Side) (1995)

How “Epic” should have sounded in Brixton. Just saying.

29. “Chinese Arithmetic”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

The one and only time that Chuck Mosley could ever appear intimidating or pensive.

28. “New Improved Song”

The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009)

Later superseded by a cleaner, sharper, punkier spiritual ancestor.

27. “The Perfect Crime”

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey OST (1991)

Foundationally identical to its predecessor, “Sweet Emotion”, this harder-to-find soundtrack entry is drastically superior for two reasons: the topic of destructive behavior is exactly as sassy as you’d expect from Faith No More, and its slower cadence adds an ominous undertone the other lacked.

26. “Helpless”

Album Of The Year (1997)

Lightly woven string accoutrements, externalized inner monologues, and the musical analog of a bipolar downslope. The name says it all, really.

25. “Naked In Front Of The Computer”

Album Of The Year (1997)

This outright vitriolic lambaste against technological addiction would have been a far better fit on Angel Dust’s anarchic tapestry, but it’s still an easy sell for a “best of” playlist. Fun Fact: Papa Roach covered this song as a B-side on their sophomore LP and totally made up for their own lack of lyrical competency with stunning metal showmanship.

24. “Ricochet”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

Written on the day news broke of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, this Rolling Stone favorite and King for a Day… single is distraught in its cynicism and mockery in all the right ways: “On the ricochet/ It’s going to hit you/ It’s always funny until someone gets hurt/ You can laugh at me/ When it misses you.”

23. “Midnight Cowboy”

Angel Dust (1992)

Now you know why that live clip from ages ago felt like such a damn cop-out.

22. “I Started A Joke”

“Digging The Grave” (B-Side) (1995)

If anyone ever tells you that the Bee Gees are nothing but fluff and disco, just play the chorus to this FNM reboot on high volume. Haters beware.

21. “Falling To Pieces”

The Real Thing (1989)

Who could resist that opening bass line? Nobody.

20. “A Small Victory”

Angel Dust (1992)

Asian nuances, chanted singing, a wide array of jingly keyboards. Everything about this song screams, “You can do it. You can be yourself.”

19. “We Care A Lot”

Introduce Yourself (1987)

Chuck Mosley at his finest, where funky bass and lead guitar chug through satirical pop like catering a telethon with hallucinogenic mushrooms and Faygo.

18. “Motherfucker”

Sol Invictus (2015)

A spoken-word jab at the fois gras industry, postured into a song Bottum claims is about holding people of power and status accountable for their actions. This single was the 2015 road flare that marked a Faith No More return as virtually iron-clad. And who doesn’t like howling, “Hello, motherfucker!” at the top of their lungs? It’s revolutionary karaoke tinged with a dab of Sinatra, and we’re so game. Damn the man!

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

17. “Take This Bottle”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

This is literally the most metal tears-in-my-beer vibe ever put on wax, and we cannot get enough.

16. “Evidence”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

Were Faith No More to score a grim, grimy soap opera, this would be the leitmotif. Its big, boisterously gloomy sound replete with ’70s porn guitar clicks and synths forces the listener into both paranoia and delightful perversion.

15. “Caffeine”

Angel Dust (1992)

The lyrics here are extremely cryptic. Thankfully, this sporadic tempo will probably give you a caffeine high, so there’s that.

14. “War Pigs”

The Real Thing (1989)

Faith No More’s final studio-quality tribute/cover explosively cracks the Top 20 with dynamite flair only the Prince of Darkness himself could beat out. The riff interpretations alone are worth going ape over.

13. “Crack Hitler”

Angel Dust (1992)

Supposedly in reference to a black drug kingpin who compared his reach of influence to Hitler, the group thought the irony was too much to be ignored. Its appropriate placement on Angel Dust, the foot-tapping beat, and the Les Claypool-esque vocal manipulations garner this peculiar tune a fond high ranking.

12. “King For A Day”

King For A Day… Fool for a Lifetime (1995)

Is this the same guitar chord from “The Grade”? Can somebody tell me why this didn’t happen sooner? It complements the piano so gorgeously.

11. “Everything’s Ruined”

Angel Dust (1992)

The ultimate pessimist anthem kicks off like a cheerful family film before Mike Patton’s “We were so happy” roars deeply into low-end bass strings and metal translations of clinical depression. Divorce never sounded so scary.

10. “Ashes To Ashes”

Album Of The Year (1997)

If “Midlife Crisis” has a dark romantic follow-up, we found it lingering as an Album of the Year single. Growling guitar distortion, raspy avalanches in the verse vocals, soaring choral arrangements, a horror flick music video accompaniment. FNM as a troupe of comrades was beginning to taper off by ’97, however you wouldn’t know it by hearing them here.

9. “Zombie Eaters”

The Real Thing (1989)

Quite possibly the most perfectly illustrated metaphor of a dysfunctional co-dependent relationship — living dead cannibalism — plays its role in a misleadingly beautiful melody on The Real Thing. For lyrics having been jotted down in haste, it might mean nothing at all, but it rings true to anyone who has ever stayed with a destructive lover until the bitter end out of guilt for having sucked them dry, also.

8. “Sol Invictus”

Sol Invictus (2015)

During interviews, the band members have stated that Sol Invictus aimed for something more organic, trading out electronic keyboards for real pianos and drawing inspiration from acts like Siouxsie & The Banshees. That natural feel has shone brightest where the title track chimes in, a wholly well-executed liturgy that only grows more powerful on each return listen. Somehow, I think Faith No More got precisely the effect desired.

Stream this track and others from the new album here.

7. “Epic”

The Real Thing (1989)

It’s it. Or it’s insanely close. Roddy Bottum’s a keyboard god, the riffs of every string touched are immaculate, the brass overlap is delectable, and its popularity alone cannot be matched by any other canonical entry on this list. It’s the epic we want, the epic we deserve, and if not for this song, there’s no telling how many others us fans would have ever gotten. It’s the breakout, the breakthrough, the breakdown, and we want it all.

6. “Edge Of The World”

The Real Thing (1989)

The first momentous appearance of what would later become a signature trait of Faith No More: stirring jazz and lounge into an already heavily layered sound as though it were Funfetti cake batter and Valium. When I originally heard “Edge of the World”, I wasn’t sure what to make of it, and I suspect most others felt similarly. And not even remotely in a bad way. This should be a wedding song … a bizarre wedding song.

5. “The Real Thing”

The Real Thing (1989)

Starting slow, building to a crescendo, this titular 1989 masterwork shows FNM’s less-observed mature side — a trait seen once before in “Zombie Eaters”. Lengthy, calculated, disturbed, sincere. Nothing can touch it, and to do it justice live would take a surgeon’s touch. Jim Martin and Mike Bordin have never sounded better as a team than here.

4. “War Pigs”

Live At the Brixton Academy (1990)

The only salvageable track from Brixton Academy. Thank you, Black Sabbath.

3. “Land Of Sunshine”

Angel Dust (1992)

Mike Patton’s penchant for turning an idea on its head does not escape fandom notice. A fleeting listen to Fantomas’ Suspended Animation or Peeping Tom’s self-titled debut has notes of direct shots fired toward acid trips and rap music stereotypes. But leave it to Faith No More to turn therapy and infomercials into unadulterated musical psychosis, with Patton playing roles as both ad pitchman and Sigmund Freud’s offspring. And is that a caliope effect, again? Why not. Listen only as prescribed by a physician.

2. “Last Cup Of Sorrow”

Album Of The Year (1997)

Should Faith No More ever opt to perform in a cathedral, I’d personally request this song be on the setlist. It’s a pure juxtaposition of success and failure set to music, good and evil battling for supremacy through wavelengths. I do not know how a single song could be so uplifting, yet simultaneously demeaning and frighteningly accurate. I’d posit a toast; however, we can in fact do you one better.

1. “Midlife Crisis”

Angel Dust (1992)

The quintessential question of what is Faith No More’s single best song has, far and away, the easiest answer imaginable. By 1992, Angel Dust had done a complete 180 away from the sound generally synonymous with Chuck Mosley to what FNM is known for now: triumphant Mike Patton vocals that shine in every register, every pitch; the fluid harmonization of Martin and Bottum’s guitar/keyboard combos; perfect drum and bass coordination; blends of dark tones and obscure subject matter that leave the listener desperate for resolution. “Midlife Crisis” is allegedly about Madonna’s grasping at straws in her ’90s career, and that may be true, but this song has metal, pop, avant-garde, a musically united front with more facets than a diamond. It’s addictive and throbbing, your head on cocaine, your heaven and hell. It’s the Faith No More song. Angel dust, indeed.

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