Faith No More - Album of the Year
Slash Records
Alt Metal
12 songs (43:05)
Release year: 1997
Faith No More
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Considering that Faith No More were on the brink of implosion when they produced this, Album of the Year is a remarkably smooth ride, and easy listen. Full of hooks, this is the band at their full songwriting powers, if not at their most experimental. It's easily the most mainstream-sounding of the Patton era albums, containing some of the band's simplest songs, but also some of their catchiest, and some of my favourites as well. Yet it doesn't really work as an album, truth be told; although the songs are great, there's little cohesion to tie it together, making it inferior to the likes of Angel Dust and King For A Day. And whilst the best songs on the album are terrific, there are a couple that are downright filler, forgettable and near pointless.

So yes, it's a flawed album, but a good one for newcomers to the band to begin with and a listen well worthy of re-examination with Faith No More's reunion and new album. Opener Collision begins with fairly heavy riffing (from new guy Jon Hudson) that develops into an almost hardcore style, Patton's clean and yelped vocals good if not up to his usual standard. There's a lack of emotion here, the soft-loud style decent but done far better by the band themselves; you can tell their heart is lacking. That's not true for the following Stripsearch, a much better, softer, electronica-imbued track with a melancholic atmosphere; Patton's singing is improved, feeling heartfelt. It joins with several others here in feeling like a farewell song, the limited use of keyboards and sudden ominous vibe towards the end reminiscent of the Angel Dust era. Last Cup of Sorrow is a great track too, the lyrics seeming to address the tensions in the band and their coming together to make one last release. “So raise it up and lets propose a toast. // To the thing that hurts you most.” The first truly good chorus made it a good choice for the album's first single, and it's possibly the album's best song.

From then on, there's a truly mixed bag. I have a soft spot for Naked in Front of the Computer's jagged riffing, but it's somewhat throwaway, while the acoustic Helpless feels out of place with its whimsical whistling but is a much better song. Mouth to Mouth has a Woodpecker from Mars or early Mr Bungle feel with the chaotic approach and varied Patton vocals, but it again feels out of place where past albums worked this sort of oddness in much better. Ashes to Ashes, meanwhile, joins Stripsearch and Last Cup of Sorrow in their farewell vibe, marrying an epic chorus to some superbly melancholic singing from Patton, and even a quick guitar solo!

These flashes of brilliance are of a completely different nature to those that came before, of course, and there's something of a feel of the band repeating themselves with the soulful easy-listening She Loves Me Not and the sub-Cuckoo For Caca thrashy noise of Got That Feeling. The closing trio of Paths of Glory, Home Sick Home and Pristina especially, meanwhile, are better than I remembered, the latter's doomy feel working well, if still rather forgettable. In some ways, Faith No More would have been better to cut this album down to half and release an EP; it's an unsatisfying album for a band that has produced so much greatness. Yet the best moments hold up, and the rest is inoffensive if not exactly up to the standard we've come to expect from the band. Worthy of the band's name, just about, but I'm glad it didn't turn out to be the last album from them after all, as it doesn't live up to its title.

Killing Songs :
Stripsearch, Last Cup of Sorrow, Ashes to Ashes
Goat quoted 72 / 100
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 - King For A Day... Fool For A Lifetime reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Faith No More - The Real Thing reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Faith No More - Angel Dust reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
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