Friday, January 27, 2012

Song #102 of 9999 - Epic by Faith No More

Song #102 of 9999

Title: Epic
Artist: Faith No More
Year: 1990
Album: The Real Thing

I have to admit I was hesitant to feature "Epic" in my blog for a number of reasons. First, I don't think it's truly representative of who Faith No More are/were, certainly not who they became. No-one (except maybe Mike Patton) could have predicted what a genius Mike Patton would turn out to be. Most of the songs on The Real Thing were already written and recorded and Patton's job was basically to write some lyrics and sing. His avant-garde influence would really not be felt until Angel Dust. Second, the song is arguably responsible for spawning a genre I really don't like very much: rap metal. It pains me a little to know that Faith No More contributed to the success of Limp Bizket, Linkin Park, Korn and other bands who have trouble spelling their own band names. My only solace is the fond recollection of helping to boo opening act Limp Bizket off the stage at a Faith no More concert in the mid-90s. There's just so much more to this band than "Epic" and I'd much rather play "Evidence" or "Midlife Crisis" or "Ashes to Ashes" or Spanish-language "Evidence."

"Epic" is somewhat the victim of its own success. Watching the video and listening to the song, one can't help but notice it hasn't aged well. The rapping is not very good and Patton looks fairly ridiculous in his multi-colored outfit and gesticulating in purposeful white-boy rap style. Many of the rap metal bands that followed have done this style better (even if I don't like them very much), making this song look weak by comparison. But it was first and it was a huge hit. What does it have going for it? Faith No More are a really good band and the playing is great. (They're going to get even better with the next guitarist.) The keyboard, particularly the piano solo at the end, was something relatively new for metal bands, who tended more toward the powerful sound of Hammond organs with giant Leslie speakers (think Deep Purple). And the video, seemed cool in 1990. The flopping fish attracted all kinds of negative attention from animal rights groups but MTV played it pretty around the clock anyway. Not sure the exploding piano was necessary...


  1. Enjoyed the post...


    Did his rapping/posturing seem THIS ridiculous back in 1990? I see that it hasn't aged well. I now wonder if it wasn't meant to be a bit of a parody.

    I was only in 8th grade at the time, and thought it was pretty cool. But then again, I was in 8th grade. What did the real teenagers/college kids think?

    Also, did Patton ever revisit this rap-metal style on later albums? If so, was it more convincing?

  2. His rapping didn't seem ridiculous, then, as far as I remember. In fact, my memory recalls it was kinda revolutionary for it's time. It's a shame it spawned some awful crap in its wake (Limp Bizkit, I'm looking at you!!!)

    I regret wasting my money on a Pearl Jam gig in 1998 instead of seeing these guys on what turned out to be their last tour. Not that PJ are necessarily bad, but they were crap at the gig I saw.

  3. Check this out--a discussion on my blog!

    I don't think his rapping seemed ridiculous back then either. And I remember we thought the video and song were cool. Could Patton have been parodying the whole scene? Maybe--but who was he parodying?

    As for returning to the rap-metal style, it didn't happen on a Faith No More record. They just went further down the funk-metal path with increasingly complex meter changes, bizarre lyrics and very creative vocal melodies. And, of course, excessive and incredible screaming.

    (Actually, now that I think of it, the pre-chorus in "Everything's Ruined" from Angel Dust has a pseudo-rap vocal track. And occasionally, Patton will do a spoken word kind of thing, but it's not rhythmic like rap.)

    Dave, you may not be out of luck! Not sure if you were aware of this, but Faith No More reformed and played seven or eight shows in the United States and a few in South America in 2010. I saw them in Philadelphia on July 3, 2010 and they were AMAZING. People around us had driven from Chicago and Cincinnati to see them. So, you never know. They may come back to your town. (It appears they were in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane February 2010.)