Monsters & Robots
is the fifth release by the eclectic shredder Buckethead. Throughout Buckethead’s discography up until this release, he has already been exploring and experimenting with a plethora of sounds. We have his signature experimental metal washed with campy samples found on Bucketheadland
and Giant Robot
. Also, we have the rave/electronica experiments heard on Day Of The Robot
. Last, but definitely not least, Colma
, which is a softer affair which dabbles in dreamy and delayed acoustic riffs. The great thing about all these records is Buckethead (for the most part) has managed to remain quite consistent in quality up until now in his different styles. Other than Day Of The Robot
, the fans have been treated with pretty sweet albums. What does Buckethead have in store for us here?
One could consider Monsters & Robots
an album where Buckethead returns to his roots. However, one could also disagree with this and say Buckethead has developed yet another new niche for the listeners. I, in fact, disagree with both parties. Monsters & Robots
takes some elements from his first two albums, it also maintains a unique identity by introducing new ideas to the table. This album is also a lot more refined than his first two records (which could be considered a good or bad thing). There is a lot of variety throughout the tracks along with new sounds and dynamics, and of course, there is some great shredding on this record. The album is definitely one of Buckethead’s more musical albums; however, it lacks a concept which made his first two records really interesting.
As previously mentioned, Monsters And Robots
introduces a lot of new elements to Buckethead’s mixing pot of experimentation and technique. As an example, “The Ballad Of Buckethead”, a track used to promote the album, is one of the first and few of Buckethead’s songs to prominently feature vocals. In the track, Les Claypool raps about Buckethead’s life’s story and about how he was raised in a chicken coop. Also, “Sow Thistle” kicks off with what is quite possibly one of the weirdest beats I have heard from Buckethead so far, and he uses a lot of really weird effects and I think he even uses his killswitch to produce this extremely odd sound. You really have to listen to this song as it is so hard to explain. There is also some philosophical commentary from Bootsy Collins (I think) in “Sow Thistle”. Lastly, “Stun Operator” is a standout track in the fact that it is more based around some really swell bass solos as opposed to Bucket’s guitar playing because there isn’t as much guitar soloing.
Of course, like most Buckethead records, there is some really great guitar soloing in Monsters & Robots
. There is a re-recorded version of “Jowls” on this record. “Jowls” was previously a Giant Robot song on their album Giant Robot (NTT)
. The song features a lot of dissonant sweeping, an awesome main riff that uses pinch harmonics. At one point, the song just breaks down with just drums and bass so Buckethead can let loose with a ridiculous solo. A great factor about this record is that he really stepped up his game riff-wise compared to his previous heavier outing. For example, “Nun Chuka Kata” has a fast alt picked riff that is intertwined with a riff that plays octaves of itself. The drums start to pick up as the song goes on and Buckethead rips an awesome solo. It is one of my favorite songs on the record. “Jump Man” also has some great tapping parts.
Although a lot of the tracks on Monsters & Robots
show Buckethead picking up his game, there are songs on this record which really hurt the quality of this record. “The Shape Vs Buckethead” has some low pitched voice that sounds like an aurally-altered Bootsy Collins. The dialogue is funny at first, but the song is way too long to keep my attention. “Night Of The Slunk” falls flat on its face by sounding like an outtake of “Jump Man” that was just slapped on the album with a different title. “Who Me?” is a cute ballad, but it is a little boring and sort of breaks up the more intense and urgent feel Buckethead seemed to be going for with this album. Lastly, while the album tends to be very consistent and musical, it lacks much of a concept or a story which Bucketheadland
and even Giant Robot
kind of had. Hell, even Colma
had a bit of a story because it was an album for his mom in the hospital. Monsters & Robots
is more of just a collection of songs. This isn’t a major issue, but it would have been cool if Buckethead weaved a concept into this album somehow because it could have really worked.
Overall, Monsters & Robots
is another consistent and high quality entry in Buckethead’s discography. There are some great new ideas, there is shredding at breakneck paces, and there is even some sweet bass leads. Only being deterred by a few lousy tracks and a lack of a concept, Buckethead has managed to release another great record for his fans.
OVERALL RATING: 3.8/5