Review Summary: A solid effort from the Big B. Some great recordings meshed with some filler material.
Buckethead – A Real Diamond In The Rough
• Buckethead - Invisible Scalp
• Dan Monti - Drum programming and bass
• Bryan "Brain" Mantia - Drums on tracks 2, 4, & 7
Buckethead is one of the most prolific artists in music today. His discography covers a variety of genres. There are elements of Metal, Techno, Soft Rock, Blues, Country, Avant-Garde, Ambience, Jazz Fusion, and many other types of music in his catalog. A Real Diamond In The Rough offers a few new things, but is mainly just developing on his more mainstream path he’s taken over the last few years. I would say this record is a mixture of Electric Tears and Albino Slug.
However, this isn’t a bad thing by any means. Buckethead, as usual, doesn’t fail to please listeners with another album of great material. He presents many great guitar lines that range from soothing and melodic to powerful and epic. On A Real Diamond In The Rough he decides to overdub his guitar playing a lot so there are a lot of intertwining licks. A good example of this would be “Dawn Appears”. The intro has interesting guitar interplay and then there is a laid back solo with some good chord backing.
A song that really managed to get my attention in this record is “Separate Sky”. It has a great intro where the guitar and drums really work well together. I also love the sound of the snare drum. This is the heaviest song on the record (which isn’t saying much). There are a lot of switches from normal speed to half time and back again which keeps the pace of the song interesting. This song is really riff based as there is only a solo near the end of the track.
Another personal favorite on the record is the opening track. “Broken Mirror” drags a bit at first, it gets really nice though when Buckethead’s brooding guitar line arrives on the track and you can feel the mood that the song is trying to portray. It really kicks in when Buckethead commences his bluesy solo. It has a great tone that has a lot of bite.
However, all this being said, this album is not perfect at all. There is a decent amount of filler on here that bores me. “Formless Present” sounds like an ambient outro of “Soothsayer” (from Crime Slunk Scene) and it is a pretty tedious 3.5 minutes. Also, the track after it, “Squid Ink Part 2” is a pointless filler track that doesn’t really offer anything new except more samey guitar riffs. Finally, “Allowed to Play” seems like a really lackluster effort and seems like Buckethead just improvised some guitar lines on that song. I enjoy some of the guitar lines in this song though.
A song I have mixed feelings about on this record is “Squid Ink”. The intro has a catchy guitar riff and a well written drum line that works well with it. There is a brief silence after the intro and then it starts to sound like a reprise of “Broken Mirror”. The chorus saves this song as it kind of has a post-rock sound and the guest drumming from Brain is really well done throughout the whole song with well-handled drum beats.
In conclusion, this record will probably not win over any new Buckethead fans. However, the man is still going strong and even though there are a few missteps on this album where he makes filler tracks in an attempt to rehash Electric Tears, he has still recorded a lot of great tracks. I’m surprised he hasn’t run out of ideas yet.