Mike Patton sure does get around. In something like his second album in 3 months, this is taking the leftfield direction that Mike Patton started with Mr. Bungle * , but here Fantomas (featuring ex-members of Slayer, the Melvins and so forth) decide to do something a little odd. While some have taken the trend of the tacky 80’s cover version as a jumping point for an entire career ; (stand up * Alien Ant Farm) and it seems like every band now has to have an 80’s cover version on their album, * Fantomas * have taken it to a different level. An album of cover versions. But not just that – an album of cover version of theme tunes from classic horror movies.
Confused? You will be.
And then…you’ll listen to it, and be even more confused. It’s leftfield, uncommercial, but not unfamiliar material. It ain’t the pop songs that we came to expect from Faith No More, but when a Fantomas gig can go from acid jazz to hardcore thrash metal in a matter of 5 seconds, then you won’t know what to expect. From the starting theme to “The Godfather” , which opens authentically before 5 seconds later, turning into hardcore thrash, unintelligble lyrically,but subverting every cliché about hitting the top ten by doing a pop toon. And…It turns into a salsa number…..and then….its metal again. And then its sludge. It takes a truly talented set of musicians to be able to switch styles so quickly and authentically. And then they use a bloody theremin to get things really spooky.
If nothing else, it makes the inherent spookyness of the music even more fearful and ominous when there’s a chorus of droning guitars chiming away, makes it even more evil. Of course, any church leader knows that metal is evil by its very nature ; hence the irony. Parts of this album border of the positively unhinged : “ Rosemary’s Baby” starts off like a nursery rhyme before turning into what seems like a hymn for the dead. “”Spider Baby” is probably the closest to a conventional tune on the album, it even seems to have a verse and choruses….And then the theme from “The Omen” tunes in, which is a meisterwork; and the summation of the album. Mike Patton’s voice is used the replicate the ominous, otherworld choirs of the original, before it mutates into something that’s so metal, it sounds like Judas Priest ; if Judas Priest were possessed by the hellspawn of the devil. Maybe that’s not the best description of the music, but it sure sounds that way.
It’s a genre breaking, irreverent album that bridges everything from metal, jazz, sludgecore, grunge, and abstract electronica. Its’ ominous, foreboding, spooky and often hilarious. It knows no boundaries. Its also an acquired taste. But a taste well worth acquiring. It may be uneasy listening , but I’ll say this: its one of the most challenging, and rewarding albums of the year.
9Graham Reed's Score