Monsters & RobotsGenre:
Buckethead in a Year: The Reviews Project
Part 05: Monsters & Robots
This is one of the albums that really defines Bucketheadís overall sound, for me. Every style heís touched on in the past (from the electronic/dance vibe on Day of the Robot to the soothing sounds of Colma) is well represented here. This album is more like Giant Robot in that it doesnít have much of an over-arching theme. Indeed, itís more of a collection of high quality songs. Even though it might sound like a grab bag, the album flows well and it doesnít seem like the transitions were too forced. Beautiful, brutal, and shred-tacular, Monsters & Robots delivers on all fronts.
The guitar playing on this album, as weíve come to expect, is astounding, jaw-dropping, insane. Every superlative I use isnít doing the man a service. Heís a fabulous player, and if you still donít think so, quite frankly, youíre wrong. The riffs on this album are nice and heavy in songs like Revenge of the Double-Man and Jowls. The guitar tone on the record isnít quite as crunchy as his earlier material, but Iíve always preferred his smoother tones, and this disc is a fine example of why. These songs just feel good. Theyíre fun to listen to, and they never really get stale because of the stylistic jumping. The solos are incredibly shreddy. Almost every song has a section devoted to the master doing what he does best. Personally, I find this to be one of the albumís biggest draws, but if youíre looking for more melodic playing, itís certainly here, but you may want to stick with Colma. There is one particularly beautiful moment on the song ďWho Me?Ē. This song echoes the aforementioned Colma in every sense of the definition, and almost sounds like it was intended for Colma instead. It fits in rather well here, serving as almost an intermission between the two insane halves of the album.
The backing band on this outing sounds phenomenal. The drums give the songs a nice, driving beat, almost giving off a dance vibe. I could certainly picture a song like Jump Man or Night of the Slunk playing at a club on a late night (then again, IĎm a wishful thinker). The bass isnít quite as prevalent on this record, but thereís certainly spots where itís allowed to jump out of the mix and shine. The keyboards and effects on this album are nothing short of awesome. They do exactly what theyíre meant to. They add a bunch of texture and atmosphere to a song, without taking the focus away from Bucketheadís playing. A song like Stick Pit wouldnít be the same without those blips and bloops. Special mention must be given to The Ballad of Buckethead, one of the only Buckethead songs to predominately feature vocals. The vocals and bass on the track are played by Les Claypool, so you can figure out right away that this is going to sound like a Primus song with a Buckethead solo, and it certainly does. Itís not a bad song by any means, but itís probably my least favorite here.
The vocal bits are back on this album, whether you missed them or not. Personally, I love them. They add a great touch to the album, and keeps it very interesting. Most of the songs have samples, and they definitely make the songs seem more like songs rather than random jamming. My favorite bit has to be in Jowls with the maniacal screaming of ďSAVE ME THE SLUNK!!!Ē before Buckethead tears it up.
The coveted song of the album award goes straight to Night of the Slunk, no questions asked. Itís one of the ultimate Buckethead songs, for me at least. It starts off with a great clean riff, before the keyboard comes in and makes things interesting. Later, it breaks off into a great heavy riff, jumping back and forth until the spotlight is shifted to one of my all time favorite Buckethead solos. Totally flawless.
If youíve never heard a Buckethead album before, this is the one you need to hear. It gives a crash course in all of his many styles, and manages to be an extremely entertaining, mostly instrumental album. Quite a feat, indeed.5/5