Review Summary: Buckethead isn’t extremely overpowered in the mix and it isn’t all about his crazy guitar solos this time around, which seemed to be a weakness at times on his other albums.
Buckethead – The Dragons Of Eden
Buckethead – Guitar + Bass
Brian “Brain” Mantia – Drums + Percussion
Travis Dickerson – Keyboards + Producer
It seems that with almost every new solo album Buckethead releases, a new style of his playing is introduced for the fans to enjoy as well. An interesting fact about this album was that it was named after a novel of the same name and many of the tracks are named after chapters from it.
As usual, this album is entirely instrumental. Buckethead plays guitar, Brain is on drums, and Travis Dickerson is on keyboards. Travis is a very good keyboardist and plays an integral role in this album. The Dragons Of Eden is a jazz-fusion album that with funk, jam, rock, and blues elements as well. The big difference though from the rest of the albums is that Buckethead isn’t extremely overpowered in the mix and it isn’t all about his crazy guitar solos, which seemed to be a weakness at times on his other album. TDOE is different because it also features keyboard solos, drum solos/fills, funky bass fills, and generally a great sound.
Also, a lot of the time there is just a great band sound that is very intricate and not just plodding the same ideas over and over while still sounding terrific as a unit. Most of the songs are also very memorable and different from one another and also different from the numerous Buckethead songs that already exist. If you’ve never liked Buckethead on his solo albums, I would still recommend checking it out as it is quite different from the rest of his discography.
This album being instrumental is probably a good thing instead of having a vocalist. A lot of the time, Buckethead and pals show a very distinguishable sound that does not require a vocalist one bit. For example, on “Lovers and Madmen”, after the intro, there is a very fast and catchy keyboard line that takes over the vocalists duties. This kind of thing happens pretty much throughout the entire album.
TDOE, while being primarily leaning on a jazzy side, also contains many elements of funk, rock, and blues, giving it a really unique sound. An example of this would be “The Brain and the Chariot”. This song is quite the fluent mix of funk and jazz with Buckethead’s funky riffs and solos on guitar and bass supported by Travis Dickerson with some very jazz/blues-esque keyboard playing and solos. Additionally, “Draco” is a very unique song in that Buckethead plays swaggering riffs that at times would remind one of AC/DC, and switches flawlessly to different styles throughout the rest of the song. This is probably the song where Buckethead is the most featured
“The Abstraction of Beasts” is a good song where Buckethead isn’t always front and center in the mix. There is a very definitive keyboard line in the intro and quite a few solos that Travis executes very astoundingly. This is probably my favourite song on the album because it shows the most emotion and Buckethead plays some very distinguishing solos without mindlessly shredding, being over the top, or being overpowered compared to the rest of the band, everyone fits perfectly here and the song is a great display of the amazing sound this group has as a whole.
There is also another unique highlight on the album I’d like to cite. Including “Tales Of Dim Eden”, which has a very epic sound gets more mellow as the song goes on. This song has great transitions from soft to aggressive sounds. Buckethead and Travis play some very tasty melodies and a cello shows up in the mix and plays a solo to break things up nicely.
What makes this album a 4.5 and not a 5 you ask? Well, firstly, Buckethead seems to be holding back at times. While it’s a nice breath of fresh air to not have him play face melting riffs and solos, but there is times when things just seem a little oversimplified. Also, “Future Evolution” is just very bland compared to the rest of the tracks. While it has a nice build up, there are no memorable melodies from any of the instruments and the cello is kind of obnoxious at the start.
Overall, this is a very good and interesting album by Buckethead because he chose to include other people instead of programming everything, This gives it a much more lively sound compared to his other albums. Hopefully we will get to see more albums which don’t solely feature his experience on the guitar in the future , but have a lot more variety like The Dragons Of Eden. I recommend this album to Buckethead fans for a pleasant surprise at the new playing style. I also suggest doubters and haters of Bucket to give this CD a chance as it is much different from most of his other works. If I had to relate this album to any of his other CDs, I’d probably say it has slight influence from Bermuda Triangle and Population Override at times, but it is still almost entirely it’s own album and not a rehash of anything.
The Abstractions Of Beasts
Tales Of Dim Eden
Overall Rating: 4.6/5