Enter The Chicken

Buckethead

Serjical Strike, 2005

http://www.bucketheadland.com

REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/10/2009

Any time you have an artist who releases 27 solo albums in less than 20 years, it’s going to take some digging to find the real gems in their discography. Enter The Chicken isn’t one of Buckethead’s best works but it is among the more diverse, making it an excellent starting point for new fans and a worthy addition to diehards’ libraries.   

In a departure from Buckethead’s usual instrumental fare, eight of eleven tracks feature vocal contributions drawn from a smorgasbord of artists. These range from Serj Tankian of System Of A Down to Saul Williams to Azam Ali of Niyaz. Buckethead’s guitar histrionics are considerably toned down for the majority of the disc – not exactly hard rock à la Chinese Democracy, but certainly a far cry from his better-known shred albums such as Monsters And Robots or Cuckoo Clocks Of Doom.

my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album kicks off on a hard-rocking note with “We Are One,” the first of three songs to feature System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian on vocals. Powered by a chugging riff, Buckethead’s trademark speed and some trippy effects, the song makes for a great opener. It’s a healthy dose of shock, rock and eeriness between the guitar playing and Tankian’s performance.  

Buckethead & Friends decide to go for a one-two punch on this one, though, and just as the guitar fades out, listeners are launched into “Botnus” with a gravel-throated scream courtesy of Efrem Schulz. The style ain’t for everyone, but the guy sure can belt out Cookie Monster vocals at a breakneck pace. The guitar riff sounds as if it might have been inspired by a techno loop, and the speed of Buckethead’s signature licks is almost exhausting.

Thankfully, there’s a marked change in style after the rapid-fire riffing of the first two songs, otherwise this would be a real dullard of a guitar record.

Actually, forget ‘marked change.’ It’s closer to a 180-degree turnaround, as Buckethead and Saul Williams slow things to a crawl and give listeners a spoken-word, almost light rap number, “Three Fingers.” This one’s really a matter of taste, but it makes for an effective transition into a trio of memorable songs.

“Running From The Light,” “Coma” and “Waiting Here” are each softer numbers featuring female vocalists and subdued, tasteful guitar work. Forget shredding. These three songs are all about atmosphere, equal parts calming, eerie and exotic in flavor. “Waiting Here,” featuring Shana Halligan and Serj Tankian, is particularly good. The vocals are chilling in parts and will leave fans wondering about the untapped possibilities of Buckethead taking on future projects with female singers.

That said, the album closes on somewhat of a limp note. “Funbus” is a throwback to “Botnus,” and “The Hand” is a jumbled mix of mumbling, industrial noise and opera singers. Save for this pair of weak closing tracks and one run-of-the-mill instrumental, though, Enter The Chicken is a solid disc that will give listeners a good sampling of Buckethead’s versatility as an artist.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B


Comments

I'm surprised you didn't comment on Nottingham Lace, which is perhaps one of the most breathtaking examples of guitar virtuosity in the past 10 years, and certainly Buckethead's best not only on the album, but among his entire discography
RE: mscbuck

I considered it, but for me Nottingham Lace seemed like an afterthought on ETC, given its availability on Buckethead's website for some time beforehand. Wanted to draw folks' attention to the vocal tracks instead.

Thanks for the feedback!









© 2009 Ben McVicker and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Serjical Strike, and is used for informational purposes only.