Faith No More was at one time two separate entities, balancing on two different sounds. There was the Faith No More that had brought Mike Patton on to record and give life to the lyrics of their last record, The Real Thing. Then there was the Faith No More that gave Mike Patton creative control and let the band flourish in a cloud of strange style, ripping the safety net from beneath them and trying death defying stunts in the form of sound.
It begins with the ferocity of “Land Of Sunshine”, an iconic opening that captures the slapping bass and rough, almost writhing guitar that Faith No More become so incredibly popular for. It is the raw genius of making an album that abandons the rules and instead adopts to create something entirely fresh and new with each listen. From the little quirks that Patton shifts with his voice, the way that Mike Bordin on percussion is on top of everything and keeps the instruments on this platform that is level with Billy Gould on bass, Roddy Bottum on the keys, and Jim Martin on guitars. There is an allure behind Faith No More and how they can illustrate segues in these moments that really should not be successful, but fly off the board in a manner of glory. The first half of Angel Dust is a mostly heavy rock influenced jump of chart smacking cuts that rely on the highly replayable crunch of strings and bass solos that slide through the fret board in an almost grinding fashion that complements the rest of the band’s style.
But it is the moments like “RV” where Angel Dust suddenly hits a brick wall and becomes this carousel of horror that takes a trip to the desert where the guitars become an oasis of beauty surrounded among the ugliness. The way that the track has Patton explaining “I think it’s time I had a talk with my kids, I’ll just tell ‘em what my daddy told me, ‘You ain’t never gonna amount to nothing’”. It is an ugly depiction of what Patton calls “White Trash” in America and takes a strange, but welcome transition of sound with an even stranger story attached. It is then the cascading guitar drop that leads into “Everything’s Ruined”, a mostly subtle track that begins to fade in the riffs and leads which then segues into these choruses of simplistic gorgeousness where the keyboards can lead in the background and create these glorious moments of synths that seem to rise up and create the real depth behind the track. Faith No More has an incredible way of providing large amounts of sound into one simultaneous mix that conforms so well together and makes for an outstandingly produced record overall.
Around the second half of Angel Dust, Faith No More becomes a furious group of madmen that shift the straight forward rock tracks into these contorted jumps of rough lyricism and even harsher instrumentation. The track “Crack Hitler” has Patton singing behind heavy distortion as his voice sounds as it is being transmitted through an old Ham Radio which as Patton has shown before, might have been the case in the recording studio. He has been known to push the boundaries of sound, and with Faith No More, they are a catalyst for odd approaches in the second-half of Angel Dust. It becomes an ever-present sense of intrigue for the remainder of Angel Dust, but becomes the strong descent into madness when the orchestral mess of “Jizzlobber” comes bursting into the scene in a psychotic dash of insane screams that becomes a highlight of Angel Dust and a timestamp on how immaculate Faith No More can become when put under the exact pressure and weight of production. It is an angry display of vocal athleticism from Patton, but also a display of strength behind Bottum who creates these organs that begin to flood the stage and overtake the remaining sound for the track, eventually engulfing Faith No More in a retribution of gospel work.
The final moments of Angel Dust take off the rough and grumbling sheath and instead show a calm side that is a fitting end to the madness that ensued. From “Midnight Cowboy (Theme From)” or “Easy”, Faith No More becomes a symbol of creative steps that was not afraid to stumble, fall, and eventually float to the top with their minds left in a twisted, mangled mess of excitement.
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Chazwick Bradley Bundick who is professionally known as Toro y Moi creates beauty from the tips of his fingers as he begins to morph and form melodic vibrations with each press of the keys. His style is reminiscing of the rainy city streets right as the sun falls, he is able to start a sense of emotion that is missing in most modern renditions of sound that hunkers down and captures a world of wonder behind his third studio release, Anything in Return.
A revitalization is necessary in growth, and Bundick is a master in the craft that can channel goose bumps from the sheer amount of elegance that comes from the instrumentals alone. Then, when paired with Bundick’s soft, but prolific vocals, Toro y Moi becomes an image of absolute beauté. He opens with “Harm In Change”, an uplifting exchange of synth chords and rattling percussion that shines on the production where Bundick creates sequences of building depth that is ever-present on Anything In Return. The entire album plays like a dance of steps that segue and shift so well together, making for a journey that never misses a beat. From the opening moments to the final closing, Anything In Return is a gift of excellence that borders on the levels of genius while never appearing to try too hard. It is a masterpiece that shows the glimmering moments of the world of music, begging the question of how Bundick made each composition and transition flow so well.
As the record reaches a midpoint, Anything In Return shows some of Bundick’s most powerful discography selections with “Cola”, “Grown Up Calls”, and “High Living”, displaying Toro’s illuminating adaptability behind production. From the almost somber sense of style on “Cola” where Toro y Moi is at his most vulnerable, reaching into his humanistic side of the mostly synthetic record. It is a show of human touch that engulfs the listener in a wrap of soft warmth that is approachable and relatable behind the dazed production as Toro eagerly explains, “Some days slip by me, and I think I know why, I make it through”. The track is loving and shows potential as it reaches into the following of “High Living” where Toro instead takes a slightly more upbeat drive that uses lots of electric chords that simmer and reflect off of the watery and cascading synths. It is truly a beautiful arrangement that demonstrates a reformed sense as Bundick displays these stumbling little splashes of life in the percussion and key changes that take “High Living” to new heights of expression.
“Grown Up Calls” begins to filter in with these vocal samples of higher pitched singing that then brings in Bundick as he explains, “I’m alright, out here with you. It doesn’t bother me; I know you think it does. It’s us making grown up calls, you got more than my love”. There are instruments upon instruments featured and brings the depth to new levels as Toro y Moi begins to use more percussion, voices, and different methods in the background to fully illustrate a whole orchestra of sound behind him. Anything In Return is a sense of elaboration that can create an enthralling draw within and a sense that begs to be replayed after each listen.
There is a sense of adventure behind Anything In Return that continues to echo even four years later. It is a sense of pride that Bundick has behind the instrumentation and the vibrations that it displays, there is a method behind his beauty and the way that he can end on a final, filtered note strikes a chord with how incredibly complex, but approachable his style is.
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The timeless, culture shocking self-titled record debut from Black Sabbath is an album that will forever live in infamy as its references to Satan, the overarching deathly sound that creeps behind it, and for spawning a wave of hell fire from everyone. It will also be laid in the history books as being one of the most influential metal/rock albums of not just the 1970’s, but of the incoming decades that would forever put Black Sabbath on a pedestal of power.
The Youthful group that took flight in the early 70’s would achieve superstardom before the decade was over and become a collective of multiple generations of striking music that would continue to inspire throughout the world. Starting small with a four-man line up that showed changes later in Black Sabbath’s career, but was widely renown for having John Michael, “Ozzy” Osbourne on the vocals and harmonica, Geezer Butler on the bass, Tony Iommi on the guitar, and Bill Ward on the percussion. In an impressive feat that is still not understood today is how the album was recorded. It was done as a “live” album where the band would be playing in different booths at the same time to maximize recording time and effort. The actual instrumentation and vocals were laid down in one single day, the remaining mastering and work was done over the following day where Tom Allom and Berry Sheffield handled the engineering of the album. It was almost an incomprehensible fathom as to how it could sound so incredibly clean with only twelve or so hours being allotted to the recording time, but through the immaculate work of Rodger Bain on production, and the two fantastic engineers, they were able to to make a diamond among rough reviewers and harsh critics.
Black Sabbath originally had the hammer brought down upon it from critics and reviews that criticized the obscure and obligatory lyrics that mentioned the afterlife, death, and spirituality in a much different fashion than that of which the 1960’s had prepared the audiences for. Black Sabbath would open up with their self-titled track, “Black Sabbath” which has since become an iconic styled track that features church bells and rainfall over a sudden, razor-edged guitar that cuts through the atmosphere like a bolt of lightning. It is instantly recognizable and truly begins to shine when the guitar fades back and has Ozzy wincing in the darkness behind cymbal crashes and writhing bass. The whole of the group manages to switch styles and adopt a technique that would become copied for years after the initial moments of Black Sabbath. The anguished cries of “Oh no, no, please god help me,” as the strings slither up the spine of the listener like a mighty deceiver is still something that can be reimagined near fifty years after the first moments of Black Sabbath’s Earth-shattering release.
Most of Black Sabbath is converged of long, stretched out tracks that form smaller sections inside each track. The album is only a mere five-tracks long, but reaches into the near forty-minute mark. It is an album that segues well within itself and shows a real natural progression that never feels as if any track is being played for too long, or is truly overstaying its own welcome. Most sections last only around three to four minutes and follow a loose pattern of transitioning, but transitioning in a satisfactory method that transcends into the official tracks as well. Even when the final track is being presented, “A Bit of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning”, still takes on a method of showcasing multiple genres and play styles before falling into an eventually black silence.
The subtly of Black Sabbath is the band’s biggest benefit and is a rightful showcase of the raw emotion and talent that all four members had within themselves. To be accredited international merit for an album that was first displayed as a failure by most contemporary artists is a feat all in its own. Then to add a beautiful and iconic style of playing from Tony Iommi after being able to play with prosthetic finger tips after a machine shop accident, makes for a veil of intrigue being placed over just how he did it. Black Sabbath illustrates signs of magnificence even into the eventual bitter end of “A Bit of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning” where Black Sabbath can demonstrate a heightened ability of play style that shifts from genre to genre with ease. The strings are synonymous together and Ward brings a complex arrangement of tom hits that coincide with the cymbals and makes for a system that dials back and then shifts forward with each transitioning track. With Ozzy on the vocals, Black Sabbath became a wrecking force that could also become a jam band with a sense of direction. As everything transports into sequence, as every instrument falls into place, with the vocals from Ozzy delivering a real sense of distress behind his voice as he exclaims, “I was born without you baby, but my feelings were a little bit too strong”, there is grace behind the band.
Black Sabbath became a barrier destroying band that changed generations forever. Their debut album simply entitled, Black Sabbath was an entity of power all on its own and displayed the sense of raw power and effective energy that could stem from an operational group of talented musicians. The group was propelled into the light with Black Sabbath, but the record would forever remain as a dark, and foreboding beginning to one of the biggest bands in the world.
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