Monday, September 8, 2008

Music Monday--Faith No More, "From Out of Nowhere"

Back in high school, a friend of mine liked to knock punk music as "metal that didn't make it." I could see where he was coming from; metal musicians put an enormous emphasis on being virtuoso instrumentalists, while punk artists embraced a lack of polish in their pursuit of raw energy. I always favored the punk musicians, largely because they were temperamentally averse to the pretentiousness and pomposity most metal acts sooner or later fell into, and the players weren't engaged in incessant soloing and deluding themselves that they were the John Coltrane of the electric guitar. However, I do have an affection for Eighties pop-metal bands like Van Halen (particularly the pre-1984 recordings) and Whitesnake. The reasons are partly due to adolescent nostalgia, and partly because they embraced tight, well-crafted songwriting. These musicians saw themselves as entertainers; they were in no danger of developing Spinal Tap syndrome.

My favorite of them was Faith No More, who I still think are the best metal band to come along since Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin defined the genre. Like their more enjoyable peers, they favored sharp, concise songwriting, but they went further by integrating it with a number of outside influences, including rap, funk, and punk. The rap influence is absent in "From Out of Nowhere," the track I've chosen for this week's Music Monday, but those funk bass lines and the lean, driving punk-guitar hooks are there in spades. I lost touch with my metal-loving friend after high school; listening to Faith No More again, I can't help but wonder what he thought of them.

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