Buckethead in a Year: The Reviews Project
Part 014: Enter the Chicken
So, after our journey into the more psychotic side of Buckethead's music, Enter the Chicken offers something no other Buckethead album has: Songs, with actual vocals. Indeed, this may be Buckethead's most cohesive work to date, the vocals really do help make the album more interesting. Back in the early days, the samples did enough to keep the music entertaining, but as Buckethead gradually fell out of love with sampling, the quality of the music suffered ever so slightly. With this album, we are given a taste of what would happen if Buckethead suddenly turned into Arjen Lucassen and put together a cast of singers to add another dynamic to his music. It is, for the most part, a huge success.
The guitar is very nearly pushed away in favor of the vocal guests this time around. However, there are still many spots for Buckethead to stretch out his fingers and melt the mind with ferocious soloing. In fact, the lack of solos on this album make the guitar feature song, Nottingham Lace, the best song on the album by far. Buckethead still riffs with the best of them, and the vocalists seem to breathe new life into them. This may come as a bit of a disappointment to some Buckethead fans since he's arguably not the main attraction here, but I feel it was a good experiment that needed to happen.
For the first and last time in this epically long review series, I'm dedicating a paragraph to vocals. This isn't exactly what one would consider a cast of all-star vocalists. Aside from the well-known Serj Tankian, most of the vocalists here are new faces that have worked with Buckethead in the past on various projects. For the most part, the cast is very good. While I don't like the hardcore vocals of Efrem Schulz, they actually work here because they're not over your typical boring metalcore riff. Buckethead can really make anything sound good. For all the Deli Creeps fans out there (all 4 of us), Maximum Bob makes a suitably hilarious appearance.
The backing instrumentalists are shoved even further back with the vocal additions, but it's nothing to complain about really. They do their job of sitting back and letting the true masters of the craft make their stamp on the music. No bass or drum solos here, just good ol' fashioned guitar and vocals.
As I said earlier, the best song on this album is Nottingham Lace. One of the few instrumentals on the album, the song is a stomping ground for Buckethead to lay it all down and show everyone that he hasn't lost his touch (it seems like there's at least one song like this on every experimental album, even Population Override had a shred piece). It's an absolute joy to listen to, and I recommend it highly even if the thought of Buckethead with vocals makes you want to puke out of every orifice of your body. Seriously, it's a gem.
All this praise, and there's really not very many negative things I can say about this one. I already touched on how the purists may not appreciate the vocal approach taking away from their precious Buckethead riffs, but they're not bombastic enough to detract too much anyway. Even the metalcore vocals sound good, so you've got an A+ album in my opinion. It's probably one of the best beginning albums one can experience as well. It's a no-brainer that an album with vocals is far more accessible than one without. Overall, this is not a Buckethead album to be missed. It's one of a kind in his extensive discography, and everyone should hear it at least once.4.5/5