Review Summary: Good album. One of his best this year.
Continuing the maddening pace of releasing music that he is on, Buckethead released his 30th studio album of the calendar year on December 11th, entitled "Coat of Charms", and the 70th studio release of his career. Each album seems to be dedicated to a specific sound. For example:
The Pit, Pike 18, Pike 19, The Rise of The Blue Lotus, & Pearson's Square all seem to follow the acoustic sound he was going for on classic albums like Colma, Electric Tears, Electric Sea, and Shadows Between The Sky. Most of the albums he's released this year follow the riff-driven, progressive sound. They are usually multi-layered and don't follow the same tempo for a very long duration. Coat of Charms is no different. It follows the acoustic sound, but doesn't sound as melancholic as his aforementioned similar works.
The opening track of the album, "Hall of Aluminum" has a soft, acoustic sound, but sounds much more upbeat than well-known cuts like "I Love My Parents" or "Baptism of Solitude". It seems most Buckethead songs have a voice, even without any vocals (excluding the Enter The Chicken album). Like most Buckethead songs (especially recent ones) it starts with a melody, slows down, leading to a solo interval, and leading back to the original more fast-paced melody. The way he does it is unlike most guitarists, especially in 2013. Truly unique.
And like he also has done on some albums, this record starts with one song, then a song named after the album (the second track is entitled 'Coat of Charms'). Following that are 4-6 tracks dedicated to something, broken into parts.
Telescape: 5) Telescape 1 6) Telescape 2
Slug Cartilage: 8) Slug Cartilage. Didn't contain segments/parts
Pancake Heater: 1) Pancake Heater
Worms For The Garden: 1) Worms For The Garden
Halls of Dimension: 2) Hall 1 3) Hall 2 4) Hall 3 5) Hall 4 6) Hall 5 7) Part Two - Falling Through The Vacuum
Splatters: 1) Splatters 1 2) Splatters 2 3) Splatters 3 4) Splatters 4
Mannequin Cemetery: 9) Mannequin Cemetery
Pearson's Square: 1) Pearson's Square 2) Eagle's Nest 3) Eagle's Flight
Rise of The Blue Lotus: 1) Mountain Cabin 2) The Flooding of Pain 3) Rise of The Blue Lotus
Pumpkin: Tracks 1-18 are titled Pumpkin (insert track # here)
Thank You Ohlinger's: 1) Thank You Ohlinger's 2) Unopened Boxes 3) Way In The Back 4) Manila Envelopes 5) Alphabetical Order
The Pit: 1) The Pit Part 1 2) The Pit Part 2 3) The Pit Part 3 4) The Pit Part 4 5) The Pit Part 5 6) The Pit Part 6
Hollowed Out: 8) Hollowed Out
It Smells Like Frogs: 1) Gold Dragon Pt 1 2) Gold Dragon Pt 2 3) Gold Dragon Pt 3 4) Gold Dragon Pt 4 5) Gold Dragon Pt 5 6) Gold Dragon Pt 6 7) It Smells Like Frogs
Twisterlend: 7) Twisterlend
Pikes: Continuation of Pumpkin, songs are ordered Pumpkin 19-27
So, as you can see, most of the albums Buckethead has released follow a cohesive theme, Coat of Charms being no exception. Coat of Charms follows the acoustic sound of the previous song, and almost sounds like a sequel to the Hall of Aluminum. And similarly to previous albums, he follows the album-titled track with a chapter, so to speak. This chapter starts with Jettison part 1. It sounds significantly heavier and more effects-laden. It starts with a very soft, progressive but simplistic intro, which leads into heavy, bassy riffing, by far the heaviest part of the album so far. After the riffing phase comes to a close, Jettison progresses back into a soft, almost jazzy intro, leading to more heavy riffing.
Jettison 2 starts similarly. With a very mellow introduction, it sets the stage for a typical Buckethead song that could go in about 1,000 directions. I've always said that he sounds like Jimi Hendrix playing guitar for Pink Floyd, and the solo starting about a minute and a half in sounds like a heavy Pink Floyd solo, so circa-The Wall era. The solo doesn't last for very long, but this album isn't purely based in Buckethead displaying his virtuosity - we've seen that already in his previous 69 albums. We all know he can shred. That sound wouldn't fit in with this album.
It leads perfectly into Jettison 3, which has a low, deep, introspective sound. It goes without saying that it progresses into many different aspects and layers and sounds, and continues on with the Jettison theme. Jettison 4 starts even slower than the previous three records in the chapter, and more emphasis on the drums make it sound heavier. Unlike Jettison 2 and 3, and like Jettison 1, this paves way for riff patterns, reminiscent of previous albums like Hollowed Out. Following Jettison 4, Jettison 5 is a nice change of pace in tone. It continues on the effects-heavy path of some of the other songs on the album, which sets the path for some fat-sounding solo patterns, and transitioning almost seamlessly to some incredible riffs. In my opinion, Jettison 5 is the highlight of the album. This leads to it's continuation, Jettison 6. A fitting close to the album, it sounds very introspective, as most Buck songs do. In my opinion, 5 would have been a more impressive ending than 6, but thematically, it fits.
Overall the six songs in the Jettison chapter total 17 minutes and 52 seconds, all essentially one song.