1/ Jump Man (Buckethead,Scaturro) 4.42 1/ Intro (Buckethead) 0.15 2/ We Are One (Buckethead,Tankian) 4.01 3/ Botnus (Buckethead,Schulz) 3.24 4/ Three Fingers (Buckethead,Williams) 2.58 5/ Running From The Light (Buckethead,Davis,Shibibaw) 4.42 6/ Coma (Buckethead,Ali,Tankian) 5.38 7/ Waiting Hare (Buckethead,Tankian,Halligan) 5.43 8/ Interlude (Conviser) 0.18 9/ Funbus (Buckethead,Rogers,Aamami) 3.25 10/ The Hand (Buckethead,Maldjian,Bob) 4.24 11/ Nottingham Lace (Buckethead) 6.33 12/ Shen Chi (Buckethead) 2.48 Recorded at John Merrick Recorder Track 8 recorded at Serjical Strike Dungeons Vocals on tracks 1-4 and 6-10 recorded at Serjical Strike Dungeons Gigi's vocals on track 5 recorded at Orange Music, West Orange New Jersey Engineered and mixed by: Dan Monti Gigi's vocals engineered by Bill Laswell Shauna Davis' vocals engineered by Cam Dinunzio Mixed at Binge Factory Produced by Serj Tankian, Dan Monti and Buckethead Mastered by Paul Miner at Buzzbomb StudiosBuckethead: guitars; Serj Tankian: vocals (2,5,7), other instruments (2,5,7); Efrem Schulz: vocals (3); Saul Williams: vocals (4); Ejigayehu 'Gigi' Shibabaw: vocals (5); Maura Davis: vocals (5); Azam Ali: vocals (6); Shana Halligan: vocals (7); Donald Conviser: all sounds (8); Dirk Rogers: vocals (9); Keith Aazami: guitar (9); Ani Maldjian: vocals (10); Maximum Bob: vocals (10).
2005 - Serjical Strike Records (USA), 3373 (CD) 2008 - Serjical Strike Records (USA), SS012 (CD)Note: Track 12 only appears on the 2008 version.
Enter the Chicken proves as much without a doubt. Yet Seņor Bucket's 13th record in 16 years is different from anything he's done before. That And Friends appendage to his name is more than mere novelty -- Enter the Chicken is a collaboration album, in which our hero teams up with a small army of singers and songwriters from across the musical spectrum. First and foremost, the whole affair is produced (indeed, facilitated) by System of a Down's Serj Tankian, and released on his Sejical Strike label. Tankian also co-wrote and sings on three of the nine songs.
The result is more rock album than guitar album. Buckethead's guitar god histrionics are downplayed in favor of integrating his wizardry into traditional songwriting structures. The record is also an opportunity for Tankian to experiment with different genres. Except for the blazing metal opener "We Are One", his co-writes are of a mellower, more melodic nature than typical System of a Down fare. "Coma" is an ethereal, almost ambient number voiced by Azam Ali of the world music troupe Vas. Tankian's got back-up moaning duties covered, and all Buckethead has to offer is a basic riff that runs through the whole thing unchanged. Six minutes of this. If you're lucky, you'll emerge from your coma just in time to hear the chorus of the next song, "Waiting Hare", which features a kickass hook from Buckethead and sharp, emotional singing from Tankian. If it weren't for its chorus, this quasi-ballad, with Shana Halligan on lead vocals, would unravel into another uninspired bore.
Also singing and earning writing credits on Enter the Chicken are Saul Williams (poetry meets metal in "Three Fingers"); Efrem Shulz of Death By Stereo (metal meets more metal in "Botnus"); Maura Davis of Denali (the Evanescence-esque, yet rap-less "Running from the Light"); and about eight other folks. Told you it was a small army. Basically what we got here are a few decent low-key mood pieces sandwiched between some satisfactory metal and hard rock, with above-average lead guitar parts falling here and there amongst them. Axe-wise, the highlight is easily the instrumental closer "Nottingham Lace", in which Buckethead solos for four minutes over the chugging rhythm of a second guitar track. It's a memorable end to an uneven effort. But Buckethead fans have no right to be put off by Enter the Chicken; when you rock across almost two decades with a bucket atop your skull, you earn yourself a little leeway.
6 out of 10
Nate Seltenrich (courtesy of the Pop Matters website)
For the true fan of the half-man, half-chicken god of shred known as Buckethead, any new release is cause for celebration. Luckily, he's been pretty prolific over the years, putting out an astounding body of work while staying as far away from the mainstream music community as you could possibly get. This guy doesn't just fly under the radar, he's actually buried about a mile below it, deep down in the earth. He has a rabid core of fans (mostly dudes that play metal guitar in their bedrooms) that think he's the coolest thing since the distortion pedal was invented, but he also has his detractors, who are mostly shred guitar devotees that spend their days practicing sweep-picking exercises at really loud volumes at their local Guitar Center store. If you're one the latter, stop reading and go listen to one of your crappy Steve Vai CDs.
For Enter The Chicken, Buckethead teamed up with System of a Down vocalist Serj Tankian and several other guest musicians to produce a record that is a buffet line of musical styles and guitar firepower. "We Are One" is the most accessible track on the disk and is as close to a standard rock song as you are gonna get with the chicken man at the controls. Tankian belts out the lyrics in his trademark nasally "quacking" style, while Buckethead backs him up with dense rhythmic chunks on the ol' six-string.
But the shred doesn't really drop until "Botnus," and as always, it's worth the wait. Much like his invented persona, the over-the-top silliness is what makes his solos so much fun. Guest vocalist Efrem Schulz brings the Cookie Monster death metal vocals like a champ, which make the track just flat-out rock. There are a few clunkers here, but for the most part when the focus stays on the heavier side of things, it ends up being pretty satisfying. And if you stick it out until the end, the last song, "Nottingham Lace," delivers the traditional Buckethead experience that fans of his earlier work are going to flip for. It's a six-and-a-half-minute instrumental that lets the chicken king do what he does best, and that is no-holds-barred freakout guitar playing.
Buckethead isn't ever going to become a household name. His brief (and some would say misguided) stint with Guns N Roses was the closest he was ever going to come to that. But true fans of his work shouldn't worry; he'll probably continue to put out record after record of tasty, nutjob-style playing. I mean, what do you expect from a guy that wears a mask and a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket on his head when he performs?
Ruben Dominguez (courtesy of the Space City Rock website)