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Buckethead & Friends - Enter the Chicken Review
by Travis Becker

Guitar virtuosity wears many guises. From the dressed down simplicity of modern jazz artists to the hairspray fueled pyrotechnics of the Yngwie Malmsteins of the world, those certain few who seem chosen to work the frets always manage to impress, if not to inspire. For inspiration, look no further than what is probably the genre's most unusual get-up. Look no further than a man wearing a kabuki mask and an empty bucket of KFC and then shalt ye discover salvation from the overblown. More an enigma than even a man, Buckethead has left his mark all over guitar rock for the last ten years, even showing up in the latest incarnation of Guns N Roses. On his latest effort, under the moniker, Buckethead and Friends, the guitarist and generally freaky dude enlists producer Serj Tankian (System of a Down) and lots more guest stars as he works his way through a set of interesting, manic, and always dynamic and entertaining tunes ranging from the sublime to the terrifying. Did you expect anything less from Buckethead?

On Enter the Chicken all of Buckethead's compositions don't always hold together and feel like songs proper, but the diversity he manages to lie before the listener remains unmatched. The dreamlike "Coma" featuring dueling vocals from Azam Ali and Tankian feels vast and far reaching, while maintaining an eerie sense of internal mental disruption. The equally bizarre, "Hand" achieves a similar effect but in an entirely different way. It's shifting tempos and haunting sound effects mix with guttural expulsions and subtle riffing, taking the listener on a tour of a creepshow mind that wouldn't feel out of place in a Rob Zombie picture. For the timid, there are more traditional, soaring, guitar experiments like "Nottingham Lace" which take huge notes and flops them down on butterfly wings, leaving them to achieve what they will.

Only the aforementioned, album-closing track features Buckethead unaccompanied by guest musicians, but for the most part, the featured players are unobtrusive to Buckethead's instrumental mastery and add to the proceedings in almost every case. "Three Fingers" featuring Saul Williams is a standout track, almost radio-play single material. Those who have come to love Serj Tankian's schizophrenic vocal styling will have plenty to appreciate here, as the singer explores his entire range on Enter the Chicken. From the hellacious screams to the gentle crooning that makes hit singles, Serj tags all the bases here. And let's face it, Tankian being on board so prominently is certainly a ploy of sorts to rope in some of System of a Down's rabid fans. So much good luck for them, if they bite, they're getting a lesson in what playing the guitar can be in this day and age when men with bucket of chicken on their heads play the guitar in outer space. What do you expect? Pigs flew way back in Pink Floyd's time, so anything's possible at this point.

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Buckethead & Friends - Enter the Chicken

Label:Serjical Strike Records

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