Backed by the tribal beats and rock-solid power of Mike Bordin’s drums, with Roddy Bottum’s majestically sweeping keys, Billy Gould’s thudding, up-in-the-mix bass and Jim Martin’s awesome metal guitar riffs, Mike Patton’s boundless energy and incredible vocal versatility Faith No More are one of the most influential alternative rock bands of all time.
Bordin and co are back with a superb new album, Sol Invictus – their first in 18 years, and a future classic for inclusion in the likes of this feature. The band never followed trends, instead mixing muscular thrash, funk, punk, post-hardcore and Sabbath-style hard rock on tracks like ‘Epic’, ‘From Out Of Nowhere’ and ‘Falling To Pieces’. It was a template (of the very loosest kind) that they were able to put to the superb Angel Dust in 1992. From the mid-’90s, Bordin became Ozzy Osbourne’s go-to drummer (he was impressed by FNM’s cover of ‘War Pigs’ on The Real Thing), and Bordin was on the reissues of two of Ozzy's classic albums, Blizzard of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman, rerecorded due to legal wranglings with the original rhythm section, and put his grooves to three Ozzy albums. He also found time during FNM’s hiatus to work with Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell.
Introduce Yourself (1987)
With the band gathering fans and momentum off the back of their hit ‘We Care A Lot’, the second album has noticeably better production, and due to the limited availability of the first record, this is considered by many to be their true debut.
A newly-minted version of ‘We Care A Lot’ sits alongside the bouncy ‘Anne’s Song’, funk-rocky ‘Chinese Arithmetic’ and brooding ‘Death March’ and epic ‘The Crab Song’. Bordin’s tribal beats and the prominence of the band’s rhythm section set the style for FNM’s sound.
Key track: ‘We Care A Lot’
The Real Thing (1989)
Chuck Mosley parted ways, unamicably, with the band in 1988 and was replaced by Mike Patton. It proved to be the start of huge things for FNM, as the young, versatile vocalist made the gig his own.
Musically, the band had grown; their musical characteristics, including a refusal to fit into any one genre comfortably, were amplified on huge tracks like ‘From Out Of Nowhere’, ‘Epic’ and ‘Falling To Pieces’, while Bordin and co’s love of Sabbath shines through, not least on their cover of ‘War Pigs’. ‘End Of The World’ and ‘Underwater Love’ show the band’s eclecticism, while in places Mike’s rhythms reveal his grounding in African percussion.
Key track: ‘From Out Of Nowhere’
Angel Dust (1992)
This was FNM at their peak; as alternative rock invaded the mainstream, the band kept confounding expectations and musical categorisation. Top 10 hit ‘Midlife Crisis’, with its syncopated drum intro and ringing snare, was followed by ‘A Small Victory’ and ‘Everything’s Ruined’.
A real mix of feels, there was plenty of heaviosity here too, thanks to ‘Kindergarten’, ‘Smaller And Smaller’ and the wonderful ‘Be Aggressive’. Then there was their version of John Barry’s theme from //Midnight Cowboy// and, added to later pressings of the album, a faithful cover of The Commodores’ ‘Easy’.
Key track: ‘Be Aggressive’
Degradation Trip (2002)
Once more teaming up with soon-to-be Metallica bass player Robert Trujillo, with whom he’d worked on Ozzy Osbourne’s 2001 album Down To Earth, Bordin laid down the heaviosity for Alice In Chains guitarist Cantrell, his thunderous drums driving the epic ‘Anger Rising’, brooding grunge of ‘Hellbound’, doomy ‘Psychotic Break’ and acoustic guitar melodies of ‘Angel Eyes’ and ‘Solitude’.
Key track: ‘Anger Rising’
Black Rain (2007)
This largely underrated album saw Ozzy on top form, with Bordin and Zakk Wylde giving tracks like ‘Not Going Away’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Stop’ a respectful sense of menace. It’s one of Bordin’s best recorded performances, away from his FNM finest, while Ozzy’s band are powerfully rhythmic, locking in like a true metal supergroup.
Tracks like ‘11 Silver’ sound at once classic while giving the nod to modern metal courtsey of Wylde’s guitar, and the title track is classic Osbourne, supported by Bordin’s pounding tribal groove.
Key track: ‘Not Going Away’