It feels wrong and insulting to call Faith No More a one-hit wonder. After all, the funk-metal legends have released countless brilliant songs, and they were one of the most innovative acts of the late ’80s and early ’90s. This makes it a bit unfortunate that their 1989 smash “Epic” was their lone experience with mainstream success. Not because Faith No More are the type of band that would crave commercial hits, but because so many people only know the band for that song, even though their career has been so much more than that.
Their new album, Sol Invictus, is out Tuesday (their first in 18 years), and we imagine a lot of people will see it and think to themselves, Oh, that “You want it all, but you can’t have it” band? So, consider this a public service announcement: Here are some other great Faith No More songs that haven’t been played on the radio once an hour for the past 25 years.
“We Care A Lot” (from 1985’s We Care A Lot)
Thirty years ago, the world was being bombarded by “We Are the World,” “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and Live Aid, as major pop stars were desperate to let you know just how much they cared about the issues of the day. If that ever struck you as a tad disingenuous, well, Faith No More felt the same way. This pounding, percussion-heavy track critiqued the superficiality of millionaire celebrities, letting you know just how passionate they were about starving children, killer bees, or whatever the cause du jour may be.
“The Real Thing” (from 1989’s The Real Thing)
More epic than “Epic?” Quite possibly. The Real Thing, which was Faith No More’s most commercially successful album by far, and its title track is a stunning blend funk, metal, rap, and prog that goes on for eight minutes. Faith No More’s ability to fuse genres together seamlessly is a big part of what made them so great.
“Midlife Crisis” (from 1992’s Angel Dust)
Considering its title, this track was appropriately soul-searching, featuring a darker sound than the funkier songs that defined their early work. “Midlife Crisis” confronts insecurity, punctuated by the chorus, which ironically chants “you’re perfect / yes it’s true” ad nauseum. While this track didn’t reach the Billboard Hot 100, it did top the Billboard Modern Rock chart.
“Digging the Grave” (from 1995’s King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime)
With King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime, Faith No More released their most diverse album, trying out just about any genre they saw fit. This led to mixed reviews, but it’s hard to deny the greatness of lead single “Digging the Grave.” Unlike some of the moodier numbers on Angel Dust, this one is more straightforward heaviness, with a bit of a punk edge for good measure. In the above clip, you can see the band play the song on The Jon Stewart Show, and marvel at the site of a pre-Daily Show Stewart, when his black hair was still intact.
“Stripsearch” (from 1997’s Album of the Year)
Faith No More’s last album before their finally-ending hiatus, Album of the Year was not their most popular record upon its release. Rolling Stone gave it just 1.5 stars out 5, while Pitchfork was even harsher, giving it a lowly 2.4 out of 10. Time has been kind to this album, though. This is particularly true of “Stripsearch,” a song that has more in common with trip-hop than funk or metal. It’s dark and atmospheric, and if you can get past how different it is from the sound that Faith No More became known for, it’s quite rewarding.
“Superhero” (from 2015’s Sol Invictus)
After 18 years since their last album, Faith No More are as gloriously heavy as ever. This song, the second single from Sol Invictus after “Motherf*cker,” which was also quite good, is loud, dark, scary, and glorious. Despite its title, don’t expect to hear it in a Marvel movie any time soon, as its chorus of “Leader of men / get back in your cage” reveals this is more of a song about the lack of heroes in an increasingly dystopian present than anthem about saving the day.