Decoding the Tomb of Bansheebot



by Rumpelnostran USER (7 Reviews)
January 4th, 2008 | 19 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A return to form after Pepper's Ghost, even though the albums do have a number of similarities. Meaner riffage, more originality, and the mind-blowingly emotional "Sail On Soothsayer" make this record Buckethead's best offering of 2007.

Congratulations. The entire album got summed up pretty well in one word... Buckethead managed to brew up (no pun intended, Del Rey) a very tasty, even if rather mainstream album for us to enjoy, and the chances of me getting tired of this treat within the next few months are rather slim. This sucker is simultaneously heavy and mellow, a feat Big B hasn’t managed to achieve since Elephant Man’s Alarm Clock (so, it was about a year and a half ago... it’s rather easy to imagine fans of other acts laughing at such a statement, but we, the Bucketbots, are a privileged batch of addicts), so everybody will find something on here they’ll enjoy. Plus, there is “Sail On Soothsayer”, which is worth at the very least ten times the price of admission alone...

Some folks label this as Pepper’s Ghost Part II. I do not disagree, since the similarities are rather obvious, but for personal reasons I consider this to be a completely separate entity. The songs on both records have similar structures, plus the guitar tone remains unchanged. However, there is one big difference – to me, Decoding the Tomb of Bansheebot is everything Pepper’s Ghost should have been... instead of the generic, lackluster riffage, you get rather similar rhythm parts, but they seem more thought out and definitely turn out to be way more catchy and melodic, plus they rock/groove harder than anything featured on its predecessor. You get many different flavors of riffage here – from Buckethead’s truly one-of-a-kind pseudo-trash on “Materializing the Disembodied” and “Killing Clone”, through some infectious grooves on “Ghost Host” and “Checkerboard Incision” and old-school-Buckethead-meets-new-school-Buckethead on “Bloodless” to a slight nod in the direction of the weirdness from Crime Slunk Scene on “Hall of Scalding Vats”. Also, there is a brief stint of the baritone axe – Big B pulls out them lows on “Pickwick’s Lost Chapter” and “I Can Only Carry 50 Chickens At A Time”. It may not be enough to efficiently scratch the particular itch we baritone freaks have, but it does remind that Buckethead has that axe somewhere in his guitar closet and is not afraid to use it. All in all, the rhythm guitar parts do keep the listener entertained with their diversity, and they are the best batch of Big B riffage to see the daylight in 2007.

As in Pepper’s Ghost, clean moments are very common here. However, this is most likely the only aspect where Pepper’s Ghost proves to be superior – the unplugged ditties were definitely more heartfelt there. Sure, “Asylum of Glass” sounds like some drastically softened cousin of “Final Wars”, and the note choices are perfect, but it just doesn’t have my eyes moisten up a little like “Imprint” did... the clean breaks are very well written, and they are indeed pretty, but they lack the special something present before. Not claiming that Buckethead doesn’t put himself into the music like he used to – just read the next paragraph...

This record sports three solos, one of which is “Sail On Soothsayer”, as well as sporadic lead bits scattered around the remaining tunes. Even though they are simple and relatively shred-free, they are some of the best melodies Buck has ever committed. The lead on “Ghost Host” is very touching, and despite its simplicity it feels very fulfilled. The noisy scorcher on “Checkerboard Incision” is a hissing, trebly ear-killer (gosh, the painfulness of that particular tone really comes out when one listens to the record pretty loudly), but it adds to the freaky, yet very catchy tribal-music-meets-dinosaur-jr mood the song more-less intentionally conjures, and I’m positive that J Mascis would proudly welcome the solo among his own cuts. I’m reserving a separate paragraph for “Sail On Soothsayer”, since to me it’s a completely separate entity from the rest of the album...

This record has weirdness thrown in there... and the weirdness is pretty much omnipresent, since the majority of the cuts have some sort of freak spot inside. Sometimes it’s a numbing dissonance... sometimes, it’s a highly unusual riff... sometimes... well, you get the picture. However, instead of sticking out like a sore thumb (last few tracks of Pepper’s Ghost), the freaky stuff feels perfectly at home among the tunnels of the Tomb of Bansheebot and it blends into the songs seamlessly, adding (yes, you read right, adding) to the flow of the album. Once again, Big B hasn’t managed to do this since Elephant Man’s Alarm Clock, and the outcome is splendid. There is heavy hinting that Big B might just be preparing for another excursion into the murky world of dissonance and experimentation... I keep my fingers crossed.

A completely different aspect of the album is the closing cut, “Sail On Soothsayer”. I can state risk-freely that we have never heard, nor will we ever hear again, Buckethead putting as much emotion into his playing as he does in this song. When I first heard the piece, I felt as if I accidentally stumbled on him crying... I felt disturbed, I felt the need to turn the record player off, I was barging into private territory, but I couldn’t – I was too mesmerized by what I was hearing. I still react the same way when I submerge myself into this song... When true sorrow comes, there is no time to think of beautiful melodies – this is by no means up to par with its ‘prequel’ (“Soothsayer”) when it comes to first-glance appeal, but this song is the sole most touching piece of music I know. You can hear Big B taking his sorrow out on his guitar, there are tears pouring behind the mask as he plays a surprisingly simple, yet deeply moving solo. He even mucks up a little – it’s obvious that this is not an overproduced ballad, but a one-take capture of genuine sorrow and loss. And the genuine feelings effortlessly radiate out of the song and ambush me like a contagious germ - there are always tears pouring down my face as well when I reach track number thirteen... Big B has exposed himself way more on this track than he would if he decided to drop the mask. And that’s what we love him for... even though I know I’m a bit too far to go pat him on the shoulder and do my best to help him bear the loss, I’m with him mentally. Buckethead, you’re not alone! We’re with you!

Summing up, this is a grand effort, it’s everything that Pepper’s Ghost should have been. Even though it lacks the journeying spirit of Inbred Mountain, this is one swell record that’s got many great moments. The riffage is pretty diverse and well thought out, as well as catchy and melodic. The clean parts are not as special as the ones on Pepper’s Ghost, but they’re still true highlights. Even though solos remain rather scarce, the ones on here are well worth waiting for, since they’re very heartfelt and enjoyable. Weirdness is rather present, but it’s not lackluster and it helps the album flow – perhaps a hint that some more experimental albums are underway. And there is “Sail On Soothsayer”...

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user ratings (127)
other reviews of this album
MikeC26 (4.5)
One of Buckethead’s more essential listens. A microcosm of his massive discography summed up in th...

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 4th 2008


This is one of the bands I've always wanted to get into. I've heard the first "Soothsayer" and it blew me away.

January 4th 2008


Tis no band, tis just BUCKETHEAD.

I haven't listened to Buckethead in a long time, maybe I'll check this one out.

January 5th 2008


I'm loving all the Buckethead reviews. I liked Pepper's Ghost but I agree that this one succeeds in all the ways Pepper's Ghost did not.

July 6th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0


This guy can really shred. Seriously. I'm glad I listened to the chinese democracy demo just to discover his music. Because god knows a new GNR album wont ever see the light of day.

August 6th 2008


I'd love to get into this band, but where in the hell do I start? I mean seriously, did this guy actually put out 3 albums in one year (2004)!?!?

August 15th 2008


I've recently just discovered Buckethead myself and I'd say a good starting place would be:

Electric Tears
Population Override

All 3 of those albums are mind blowing!

August 19th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

this album is easier to listen to than the other buckethead albums i have

ghost host, sail on soothsayer, and 50 chickens are epic

September 27th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

Yea this album is awesome. Ghost host is just a great song.

May 5th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

This is a good one... it would be a great one if he would've got a real-life drummer to hit for him in my opinion instead of a programmed drum machine.

That in no way takes away from the structure of the songs or the excellent guitar work. Buckethead obviously poured his self into this project and these songs are winners... I personally have a hard time getting past the 'beat-machine' exact-o-ness and miss the human swing.

...but if that's just me then definitely grab this album as everything else about it is very good.

March 10th 2010


great review

August 20th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

Imma let you finish, OK Computer, but Buckethead has the greatest album of all time

September 20th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review of a great album. This review certainly makes valid points more clearly than the reviewer's opinions of "Peper's Ghost," which utterly confused me both in opinion and expression thereof.

I did neglect to remark on the eloquence, beauty and openness of the reviewer's second to last paragraph. I understand and relate to every word of it. Again, great review.

December 4th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

One of the best albums ever from Buckethead

October 11th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

damn ghost host is so wonderful

October 11th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah one of his better straightforward albums

October 11th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

i love some of the jazz funk stuff but some of the riffs he does in his straight up shit are so damn great

October 11th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

Jazz/jam rock stuff like population override and dragons of eden are easily his best in my opinion, I like this kind of stuff too but sometimes it feels painfully robotic despite the cool riffs.

October 11th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

pop override is great ye, u heard the one he did with jonas hellborg ? love that

October 11th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

u heard the one he did with jonas hellborg ? love tha

Which one's that?

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