Review Summary: Some of the most experimental, original, strange, sexy, and dark music ever created is found right here on Puscifer's V is for Vagina.
Maynard James Keenan is somewhat of a rarity in today's rock culture. Many people consider the 'wild' rock star life dead, and while it is, Keenan has his own way of being a rock star. Maynard James Keenan has a reputation for wanting people to focus on the music, not focus on the band creating the music; often barely taking credit for his vocal performances and ideas, even going to such an extent to stand in an unlit area of the stage during a concert. When Tool released Opiate, rock music had no clue of the influence this lead singer would have on rock music today. But not only is Keenan the excellent mastermind behind Tool's multiple masterpieces like AEnima and Lateralus, he's also part of the creative geniuses of A Perfect Circle. Keenan and Danny Lohner created two masterpieces under the name A Perfect Circle, Mer de Noms and Thirteenth Step, just adding to his ever-budding rock legacy. So, when Puscifer was announced in early 2007 and announced the title of their album would be V is for Vagina, who would have expected anything different?
For all basic sense, Puscifer is a solo side project from Keenan under a pseudonym (think Nine Inch Nails). Unable to fully release his imagination in Tool and A Perfect Circle, Puscifer is the self-indulgent creative outlet for Keenan's imagination, in return forming a heavily danceable album led by industrial grooves and a largely Ministry-influenced style. Another interesting thing about Puscifer is the artwork. The artwork itself is completely indescribable and really 'off the wall'. Not that it's bad, just a bit ridiculously strange and creepy. It's just completely original music that proved that infusing industrial, dance, and R&B was easily one of Keenan's best musical endeavors. V is for Vagina is just that
good of album, and makes you want to dance because the music is so enveloping. Not much music can do that nowadays, but apparently he's found a way to make you want to 'groove'.
It's not just that it's danceable, it's really, really freaking good. Dark, strangely sexual, and unlike anything else out there. From the powerful R&B beats of Queen B to Rev 22:20's dancefloor approach, it's something that could start a revolution in music today. The vocal performances are buried behind heavy beats and large amounts of deep distortion. Relaxed rhythms sooth you to sleep, only to be more lulled into deep sleep by deep 'ooohhhhh's such as in Queen B. The songs are completely varied throughout the whole album, and each have their own integrity. From the first track Queen B, Puscifer lets you know that this isn't Tool, A Perfect Circle, or for that matter ANY other experimental/industrial musical endeavor. It's so relaxing, upbeat, and interesting that you can't help but really enjoy almost every song here. You have no clue what track will play next-ever. After the heavy percussion of Queen B, DoZo pulls out the guitar and adds a strange simplistic riff to each beat, only to be spearheaded by Keenan's low, bass busting vocal experience. V is for Vagina does this for most of it's length, as if it's teasing you at each turn, letting you think you have a clue what's coming, when in fact you've really got no clue at all.
There's some really haunting anthems on this album, and overall gives an overwhelming dark feel. Trekka, a percussive track that is held together by astonishing 'war drum'- like beats and rhythms. Keenan doesn't roar at the bottom of his voice, instead he takes a whispering style reminescent of Wings for Marie from 10,000 Days. While plenty of the tracks here are plain industrial dance, there's some really heavy more traditional tracks, like The Undertaker. Driven by a guitar riff and bass beat, Keenan roars dully in a bit of a monotone vocal performance before exploding into a straight-out enjoyable (even catchy) chorus. The song definitely has a sexy vibe to it and is easily the album's most simplistic track, but definitely is still a stand out, mostly due to Keenan's roaring, echoing vocal performance.
Puscifer is more of an overall project than just an album called V is for Vagina, backed up by a clothing line developed by Puscifer's mastermind and a storyline almost as whacked out as a Tim Burton movie. The lyrics all relate to this storyline, which is too strange and out-there for me to actually follow, as I've been unable to get past the simple awesomeness of the music. Only to add to the lyrical storyline, Keenan often uses vocal performances from other musicians or people to fufill his track's vocals, or so heavily distorting his voice that it's impossible to tell it's him. The excellent percussion is a great addition, driving the album and forcing the sexual theme and underbeat into your ears. The guitars are few and far in between, but add a considerable amount of depth to the album.
After listening to V is for Vagina, you really start to think that Tool's lead singer, Maynard James Keenan, is one twisted individual, but honestly I think he's just one of the only people I know that's so bold to tell the world what his imagination creates. He creates some of the most masterfully deep, moving, danceable, and sexual music ever created with Puscifer's debut album, and really makes for a very good and different release. It's that good, and that close to perfect. Keenan has proved that his uncanny way of going about his business makes him one of the most original and odd rock stars of our current age, and definitely one of the most influential rock greats ever.