Fuck This: Faith No More – Tribute of the Year
Editor’s note: Typically we avoid first-person around here, but Mort felt that this was too personal a vendetta to put on all of us, so he’s willing to take the blame (hint, all of it). This will be part of one of our new special features, which we’re just calling “Fuck This,” and will use for anything that sucks beyond the normal limit of suck.
I’m not quite sure how or why, but almost every single band that cites Mr. Bungle or Faith No More as an influence so entirely misses the subtlety and nuance of both bands that, often times, when said bands mention them, I’m not even sure they’re talking about the groups I know that have those names. I’ve briefly considered that, perhaps, there exists an alternate universe where Faith No More is actually just Disturbed with better singing, but then something like Tribute of the Year comes along and destroys that theory with 2 discs worth of songs I’m exceptionally familiar with, but rendered with such surprisingly little taste or tact or knowledge of the inner workings of the source material that I almost suspect they hired M. Night Shyamalan to oversee the project and he decided that the twist ending to the whole affair was going to be “Every song sounds like shit.”
Years ago I inherited a spindle of CD-R’s from a still, to this day, unknown source. At the very top of that spindle was a disk upon whose label it looked like a stroke victim had hastily scrawled the “words” “VHGHVSLEX CRAB NICKA”. Confused, intrigued, and a little bit scared, I inserted the disk into my computer and what rotting hell was unleashed that day has yet to be banished to the nether regions of my memory.
Once, a friend and I were walking down a suburban street, yammering about this and that, whilst a mother and her small child were perambulating the opposite side of the thoroughfare. The child tripped on some errant chunk of pavement and fell face first onto the cold concrete. Silence bestilled the neighborhood for roughly 3 seconds before the child screamed “OH MY GOD! WHY DID THAT HAPPEN TO ME?” At the time, myself, my friend, and even the child’s mother laughed heartily at the shattering of the boys naive assumption that the world was a fair place, where the innocent remained so, and no harm would come to those who were themselves doing no harm. The method by which I discovered Tribute of the Year elicited a similar response from even my long jaded brain. In short, my review for this entire collection of… songs… could very easily be “OH MY GOD! WHY DID THAT HAPPEN TO ME?”, but you and I both know there are more delicious black licorice mix-ins in this shit sundae than just an anecdote about a child injuring his brain.
Years ago, Invisible Records splintered an offshoot imprint called Underground Inc. Much of the history of the label is lost to the annals and the more obscure tomes of the industrial rock history books, but as I understand it, Underground Inc. was essentially a place for industrial rock artists who didn’t necessarily want to sign with Invisible Records, but wanted wider distribution than their own niche labels could manage. In addition to this, Martin Atkins offered unsigned bands an opportunity to appear on a label compilation, with the vague insinuation that this could lead to a record deal with Invisible. The catch was that the bands themselves had to pre-order copies of the compilation at a bulk price, and then sell the product at shows to recoup their investment. Basically “pay to play”, and not exactly a guarantee of anything more than the ability to say “Yeah, my band was once on an Invisible Records related compilation,” little attention was paid to quality control, and the bands with the most money, more often than not, were the ones who ended up on the compilation, leaving everyone to hawk a product full of unlistenable junk, just so you, if you made it on to the comp, could sell your friends an album full of crap with one of your tracks on it.
Why is this relevant, you ask? Because I can think of no other reason why 83.33% of the bands on this trainwreck even made the cut for the tribute. VooDoU, Bile, Tub Ring, Hate Dept. and Grim Faeries were either previously signed with, or featured members of established Invisible or Underground Inc. bands, but the rest of the bands were culled from the Real Notes From Thee Underground compilations (-sigh-, unnecessary use of TOPY neologisms and errythang), and quite honestly, the varying “quality” of “prodcution” and “talent” alone (and I use those terms even more loosely than my quotation marks might suggest for some of these acts) warrants a purchase point of negative money. You COULD pay me to own an actual copy of this album, but you’d be so deep into Warren Buffets pocket that you would legally be considered a strand of his ball hair after you calculate interest on the loan. But enough of my yakkin’. Here comes the pain.
VooDoU – “Stripsearch”
When I first fired this disc up, I actually thought that it was a mix CD and the first track was the original Faith No More version of “Stripsearch”, which is, by all accounts, a standout, later era FNM song. Part trip-hop, part metal, all balls, “Stripsearch” finds FNM experimenting beyond even their regularly scheduled weirdness, and the result is something like Moloko meets Crowbar without the yelling. I’m not sure if VooDoU sampled the opening keyboard flourish from the original track, or managed to recreate it so faithfully that I briefly thought I was listening to the original, but all comparison stops at that tiny detail.
I don’t know what the fuck VooDoU were going for, but “discount night at the county fair haunted house” was never a vibe I got from the original. The original is dangerous and slinky. This is like a Vincent Price advertisement for a “15 Spooky Sounds For Halloween” cassette tape. The listener is immediately assaulted by shitty production and mixing, the female singer can definitely not hit the lower notes of Pattons register in the refrain, and VooDou added a really obnoxious, completely superfluous keyboard element that sticks out like a candy raver at a lower Alabama truck stop. Spoiler alert folks, this is actually one of the better tracks on the album, so strap yourself in. This homemade rocket sled is only going downhill and into the creek from here.
Bile – “Midlife Crisis”
I’ll get this out of the way right now, I’ve never liked Bile. Nothing they’ve ever done has ever struck me as interesting, or even novel. Their production is weak and the musicianship is shockingly subpar, even for an industrial rock band (Sorry Levi, I love your bass playing something fierce, but your continued involvement in Bile mystifies me). Many industrial rock bands are capable of maximising simple structures and repetitive elements. Bile are not one of those bands.
A single in heavy rotation from the Angel Dust album, “Midlife Crisis” is heavily rhytmic, featuring Patton syncopating percussive elements of his vocals, and alternating with gigantic, operatic belts of often very strange (for pop music, at least) harmonies. Krztoff, on the other hand, literally sounds like he phoned his vocals in. Like he was lying in bed with a tub of Chunky Munky and he called the studio and they pointed the phone in the general direction of a dynamic mic. Who, exactly, thought it would be a good idea to completely re-write and eviscerate the bridge/breakdow into the most turgidly standard hunk of worthless garbage known to man is beyond me, and… what the fuck happened to the drum track? Puffy’s ingeniously minimal syncopation, and Matt Wallace’s careful production are reduced to some cut and paste assfuckery from the preset library of whatever sampler Bile rented from Guitar Center that weekend. Okay, 2 down… 28 more to go. –twitch-
Parallax 1 – “We Care A Lot”
Oh. Ohhhhhh… Oh no. First of all, I don’t… Oh man. I don’t even know where the fuck to begin. For starters, the jungle drum loop from “Erotica”? Not necessary. Not throughout the entire song. I wouldn’t like it here or there, I wouldn’t like it anywhere. I don’t know whose idea it was to hire Marv Albert to handle vocal duties, but he and guitarist Joseph Merrick need to go back the drawing board in the day room at the home for the monstrously deformed, because “New Jack fuzz metal” isn’t a genre anyone, anywhere, ever wants to listen to. Also, this is the start of a disturbingly consistent trend on this album of singers who simply can NOT parse the phrasing, inflection and timing of the source material, for reasons I can hardly fathom, aside from the fact that so few of them got any other parts of the song right that I can only assume the only versions of these songs these people are familiar with are either general MIDI renditions or cell phone ringtones. Christ, that was bad. Like, bad bad. I would be very shocked if this album had anything worse to offer.
Tub Ring – “Mouth To Mouth”
Tub Ring actually have the distinction of having worked with Trey Spruance who produced, mixed and even performed on their 2001 album, Drake Equation the year prior to the release of Tribute of the Year. Whether or not Trey had a hand in the production of this track is difficult to say, but given some of the poor production and mixing choices on display here, I’m going to go with “no.”
Definitely one of the less shitty tracks on this tribute, it is, however, unforgivably marred by the completely unnecessary addition of slap and pop basslines where there were none before, and some wonky bullshit with the kick drum on the inexplicable jungle sample that makes its way into the chorus. Crappy drum production and pointless jungle samples are something of a theme with this tribute.
Imbue – “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”
Holy fuck, no. Just… no. STOP. STAHHHHHP. More sampled jungle drums and… how, HOW do you fuck up the phrasing of the lyrics this badly? Maybe if these guys were from eastern Europe or something I could forgive phrasing this terrible, but they’re from Baltimore… which may actually explain a lot more than I’d anticipated. Terrible. Terrible is really the only way to describe this. Not to mention, the singer has neither the breath control nor the vocal range to approach the intensity of the original track. Here’s a hint; when you have to REMOVE words from the lyrics of a song because of your phrasing, you’re phrasing them wrong. Did anyone listen to this album before it was shipped?
The Donkey Punch – “The World is Yours”
I really had to resist the urge to credit this band as “Shitty Type O Negative” in the byline up there, because that’s exactly what they sound like, but I figure any band who names themselves “The Donkey Punch” got exactly what they deserved.
Honestly, I’d rather be donkey punched than ever listen to this song again, but while I’m still pissed; why, WHY would you choose to cover a song you KNOW you have no hope of replicating vocally? Patton pulls off an extremely high pitched whistle register scream that not many professional, trained vocalists could even dream of producing. “Peter Tinfoil” over here gives it a shot and the results are embarrassing, to put it mildly. At the very, very least, if you’re hell bent on covering a song, and you don’t even have the slightest chance of pulling off the most difficult part of said song, leave it out of the arrangement. I can’t believe I’m not even halfway done with the first disc of this album yet. I feel like I’ve listened to at least 15 shitty Faith No More tribute albums already. Who decided this crap should be 2 discs long? Im going to kick Martin Atkins in the nuts if I ever see him.
Daiquiri – “Everythings Ruined”
What IS this bullshit? There aren’t enough daiquiris in the universe to make this song good. This is especially egregious, because this is one of the most beautiful songs on Angel Dust, and they turned into some art school, Mr. Bungle-wannabe pablum, when the original is perfect in its simplicity. “Hey guys, you know how, like, this song is really just kind of awesome and not very complicated? Let’s ignore every single thing about it in the hopes that people think we’re smart and edgy.” Also, Singer Guy; take a knee. This is a tribute album, not a contest to see who can “out-Patton” Mike Patton, yeah? You’re at about a Peeping Tom and I need you to be about uh… I dunno… “Everything’s Ruined”, ya feel me? Are we done yet? Can I go home, or… No? 23 more tracks, you say? Sometimes I wonder why I work here.
Drowning Season – “Kindergarten”
Well, the music for this isn’t exactly terrible, aside from the obnoxious, obvious drum machine, but the singing is painfully bad, and some of the guitar effects are overly reminiscent of Limp Bizkit’s needless production ornamentation. With some more work and a different singer, this could have been a really chill little downtempo tune, but that absolutely didn’t happen, and since I’m not going to sit here and mentally filter out the awful parts of the song just so I can enjoy the bass and about 40% of the guitar playing, I’m going to just damn this track to the lake of fire with the others.
The Rib – “Malpractice”
At first, I thought this was going to be a cover of “Torgo’s Theme” from the movie Manos, The Hands of Fate. I’m still not entirely certain that it isn’t. Also, you know what this track didn’t need? Melodica. Or concertina. Or to be recorded or released or conceptualised as a project. Mostly those last few things, though.
Ichabod – “Absolute Zero”
Left off of King For A Day… for good reason, “Absolute Zero” is a boring song of interest only to Faith No More completionists. Something of a poorly executed throwback to the early days of FNM, Ichabod actually do the track a favor by giving it a grimy kind of “hardcore” treatment here, making it sound something like a rejected Acid Bath song. By the standards of any band, it’s still a bland offering and a mediocre oasis in the desert of suffering that is Tribute of the Year. If this album were a road trip from Detroit to Yakima, this song would be Wall Drug.
The Sump Pumps – “Be Aggressive”
From the first note of this song I knew I was going to hate it, but, not even kidding, this song makes the “We Care A Lot” cover sound like a fucking lost Beethoven symphony by comparison. I could be mistaken here, but this may very well be the song that Blood On The Dance Floor heard and decided to base their entire musical output upon. Every single aspect of this song is horrifically bad by any standard of measurement you care to mention.
For the sake of brevity, I’m going to lump these last four tracks together because they’re all so spectacularly hideous that exegeting them for any reason whatsoever is of so little benefit to mankind, on both an objective and critical level, that doing so would literally waste time in a geological sense. For reference, modern humans have existed for about 250,000 years. Dinosaurs existed for about 180 million years. The earth is about 4.5 billion years old. In my opinion, spending any more than five minutes writing about the remaining songs on this album would be an insult to both modern and ancient history, and a slap in the face to all that is sacred and good about life as we know it, as a species capable of abstract thought, not even taking to account that no less than TWO of the songs contained herein were already covered by other bands on THE SAME FUCKING DISC.
I know, I know… you have a burning question right now, searing your insides like a red hot poker of curiosity. “But Mort, were they better than the other covers?” Fuck you. Disc 2 next week [editor: or whenever he gets the courage to try it]. I thought I could do this whole thing in one go, but I’ve literally depleted my ability to tolerate this nonsense for at least 7 days.
Written by Mort Subite