It's every musician's dream: you come into enough renown, and fight successfully for the freedom to do an album just how you want. So went the story of Angel Dust, Faith No More's fourth album, once hailed as "one of the more complex and simply confounding records ever released by a major label."
Previous album The Real Thing (1989) had been made in a period of incredible transition. Vocalist Mike Patton had replaced original singer Chuck Mosley the year before - but the rest of the band had written all the music before hiring him. Nonetheless, the rap/funk/metal hybrid "Epic" became an out-of-nowhere hit for the band, reaching the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990.
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Instead of dive headfirst into writing with Faith No More, Patton instead reunited with Mr. Bungle, an experimental rock band he'd founded in high school. This ended up working out extremely well for Faith No More, who decided to enter the studio with fresh ideas complementing Patton's feeling of creative rejuvenation. "[We're] better at playing what we hear in our heads," Patton would say after the album was recorded. "Before, we used to kinda cheat around, and play around what it was. We could never translate it into the band, and we're getting better at doing that."
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The result was a smorgasbord of styles, samples, sound effects and influences, from the classic thrash of singles like "Midlife Crisis" and "Everything's Ruined" to the R&B influences of "A Small Victory" and even the closing cover of John Barry's theme to the '60s film Midnight Cowboy. (They even tackled Lionel Richie's "Easy" as a B-side!) Add in a slew of subversive videos and a plum gig opening for Guns N' Roses' European tour alongside up-and-comers Soundgarden and you've got all the makings of a killer record. Angel Dust ended up reaching the Top 10 of Billboard's album chart and landed on several best-of album lists that year.
There was one person dissatisfied with Angel Dust in the end, however. Guitarist Jim Martin resented the mix of styles (infamously dismissing it as "gay disco") and didn't understand the title (picked by keyboardist Roddy Bottum, who liked the "really beautiful name for a really hideous drug"). He'd leave after the GN'R tour, but Faith No More were still going strong.