Review Summary: One of Buckethead’s more essential listens. A microcosm of his massive discography summed up in thirteen tracks.
Buckethead – Decoding the Tom of Bansheebot
Buckethead is arguably the most appalling, interesting and mysterious artist in the history of popular music. His enigmatic appearance, stage presence and vast and wildly varied discography have separated him from even the most prolific and dis-functional of musical acts. It’s nearly impossible to pin point his creative progression from album to album, leaving one with hardly a guess as to what his newest release will have to offer, both in scope and size. With Decoding the Tomb of Bansheebot, Buckethead has managed to successfully combine all the elements that has managed to keep him relevant through the past 25 years into one, masterfully constructed, unexpectedly consistent package.
Unlike recent low-key, subtle, hit offerings such as Electric Tears and Colma, Decoding the Tomb of Bansheebot’s is all about the riffs. That’s not to say the homegrown elements that made the former albums so cherished among critics and “Big B” enthusiasts alike are vacant, but they take back seat to the pumbling, white-knuckled guitar work. The riffs are a forefront, and a spectacle to behold. Never before has Buckethead unleashed such an unrelenting onslaught of tremolo, palm-muted fury than on Bansheebot. Guitar solo’s are scattered few and far between in the albums 51 minutes and unlike previous outings, never deteriorate or take focus away from the songs themselves, rather they add intensity where it is needed, hinting at great song writing improvement and maturity.
Many of the tracks feature a progressive nature, not alien to those familiar with his prior work. Highlights include the glorious “Ghost Host,” which begins with clean-picked chord stylings and arpeggios, which makes its way into one of the records more memorable riffs and finally climaxes into a beautiful guitar solo. The midpoint track, “Cicarama” is one of the more righteous experimental, avant-garde “wedges” throughout his vast, experimental discography. The albums closing number, “Sail on Soothsayer,” is also deserving of accolade, as it manages to be completely immersive and rounds out the album to an emotional, heavy conclusion.
From the technical, high-octane riffing displayed in “Killing Cone,” to the ever-intriguing song structures in “Hall of Scalding Vats” and “I can only Carry 50 Chickens At A Time,” you get the sense here that Buckethead means business. This album is exceptionally consistent throughout its thirteen tracks with seldom a dull stretch, if any. This is the work of a composer at a imaginative apex. Decoding the Tomb of Bansheebot is an album that showcases all that there is to love about the insanely creative, prolific and downright weird artist that is Buckethead. It defines the accumulation of his career arguably better than any other record in his whole discography, and praise for this humble reviewer doesn’t get much higher than that.