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Mike Patton is his own musical universe. It'd take an entire paragraph of words to run off all the bands, side projects and collaborative adventures that the Faith No More and Mr. Bungle frontman has been involved in throughout his 30-plus years in the game. "Prolific" isn't a strong enough word to describe the sheer volume of his output nor the consistent quality of his many freakazoid musical endeavors.
We asked Patton fans to pick what they think is his single greatest project, and understandably, "How can I pick just one?" was a common reply. That said, the top five vote-getters are ranked accordingly below.
5. Peeping Tom
Patton is alt-metal's man of a thousand voices, but for Peeping Tom, he figured he'd recruit a thousand more. After initiating the experimental pop project in 2000, it took Patton six years to wrangle together the dizzying list of contributors that made up their sole 2006 debut, but the wait was worth it. Rappers Rahzel and Kool Keith, multi-platinum jazz vocalist Norah Jones, trip-hop legends Massive Attack and producer Amon Tobin all appear on this eclectic and decidedly un-metal record in Patton's catalog. And somehow, he pulled everyone together in harmony.
More than just one of Patton's best bands, Fantômas are one of the greatest supergroups in heavy-music history. Alongside OG Slayer drummer (and Patton's Dead Cross bandmate) Dave Lombardo, Melvins' Buzz Osborne and Mr. Bungle's Trevor Dunn, Patton leads the charge in this band who've unleashed four equally wild albums to date. Their original material is bonkers, but their crown jewel is 2001's The Director's Cut, featuring this all-star team's thrilling takes on the themes from iconic horror movies and TV series.
Compared to the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach of many Patton projects, Tomahawk is one of the singer's chiller bands. That said, don't expect to hear beach-side resort bops from this long-running collab with Duane Denison, guitarist of noise-rock antiheroes the Jesus Lizard, which has also featured members of Bungle, Helmet, Melvins and more over the years. Like all of Patton's ventures, Tomahawk's sound is hard to pin down, but the warm, noirish guitar tones and hard-rock grooves give all five of their albums a dust-kickin' flavor of their own.
2. Faith No More
Most of us likely found Patton through Faith No More, the vocalist's most commercially successful and mainstream-accessible band of the bunch, whose songs "Epic" and "Easy" dominated rock radio in the early Nineties. Even so, FNM are a supremely unique and revered act, with records to their name like 1992's Angel Dust and 1997's Album of the Year that many people consider some of the best music of the decade, full stop. Without the pedigree Patton earned as FNM's lead crooner, there's a good chance his other endeavors wouldn't have come to fruition.
1. Mr. Bungle
Bungle had to be No. 1, right? Although Patton's most widely known band is Faith No More, Mr. Bungle is the productive musician's first-born child, formed way back in 1985 when he was just a teenager, and years before he would join FNM. Stylistically, Bungle's output is emblematic of Patton's rule-breaking ethos, drawing influence from thrash, death metal, ska, carnival music and the free-jazz freakouts of John Zorn, who cosigned the band by producing their head-spinning 1991 self-titled debut. There's no other musician in the world like Patton, and there's no other band in the universe like Mr. Bungle.