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Sunday Old School: Fantômas

If there's one term in music guaranteed to raise eyebrows, and often nothing else, it's "supergroup." Arguably more often than not, the results don't quite go as hoped and for every Cream there's a Contraband and Ov Hell. There will, however, always be musicians that draw people to their projects no matter who they're working with and if ever there was a vocalist who was able to do this, it's Faith No More's charismatic frontman, Mike Patton. Throw in members of other esteemed bands such as Slayer and the Melvins and surely the results are going to be something special, which is exactly what happened in 1998 when Patton put together a new project as Faith No More were coming to the end of their first run, a project named Fantômas.

Fantômas, which was named after a French supervillain and one of the country's most popular literary figures, began initially as a series of avant-garde songs Mike Patton had penned on his own, in the hopes of putting together a supergroup of his own. He sent the songs out to his Mr. Bungle bandmate Trevor Dunn, as well as Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne and Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera. Cavalera was the only musician to decline his invite to the group, though he did suggest that the drum stool should be occupied by another highly respected metal drummer, Dave Lombardo, who at the time was busy with Grip Inc., having left Slayer for the second time six years previously.

Lombardo accepted the offer and shortly afterwards, Fantômas signed with Ipecac Records and released their self-titled debut album the following year. The record's cover was the Spanish poster for the 1965 movie "Fantômas se déchaîne" (or "Fantômas Unleashed," in English,) and in a unique effort, the songs did not have traditional titles, or at least not in the way most people would think. Instead, as the record was intended to be the soundtrack to a comic book, every composition was entitled, "Book 1:" followed by the page number (for example, the opening track is named, "Book 1: Page 1."

Though all the members of Fantômas were often busy with other projects and full time bands, the quartet reconvened in 2001 for a different kind of album, one which would earn substantial critical acclaim for it's concept and execution, entitled, "The Director's Cut." The record was comprised of covers and interpretations of famous movie and television series themes, including "The Godfather," "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Omen," with some of the tracks being rather faithful to the originals, while others were strongly re-imagined, most notably "The Godfather."

After a split live album with the Melvins, Fantômas recorded their third full length, "Delìrivm Còrdia," in 2003, which was released in January the following year. Once again, it set itself apart from other albums by consisting of only one, seventy four minute track, which was intended to feature as the soundtrack to a horror movie about surgery with no anesthesia. Only a year later, the band released their fourth album, "Suspended Animation," which centred around music and sounds most commonly heard and associated with cartoons, as well as obscure holidays that take place in April, while only three tracks clocked in at over two minutes long.

Since then, Fantômas has mostly been restricted to sporadic live performances, scaled back by the reformation of Faith No More, along with Patton's many other projects, though fans will be hoping that such a one of a kind idea is only sleeping rather than laid to rest for good and that the quartet will soon be wowing fans of all kinds of music again soon.

Fantômas - "Book 1: Page 1"

Fantômas - "Book 1: Page 6"

Fantômas - "The Godfather"

Fantômas - "The Omen (Ave Satana)"

Fantômas - "Delirium Cordia"

Fantômas - "Suspended Animation"

Fantômas - "04/03/05 Sunday"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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