Buckethead – Monsters and Robots

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Reviewed: January 2000
Released: 1999, Cyberoctave Music
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson

Hiding behind an expressionless white mask, wearing a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket on his head, wielding a flying “V”, and possessing some incredible skills, this maniac is out to rip your face off with some of the fastest and most blistering guitar work ever! Having heard his work with Praxis, Pieces, and on Arcana’s “Arc of the Testimony” (Bill Laswell’s jazz-fusion project), I decided to venture into Buckethead’s solo material, which brings me to “Monsters and Robots”. This album is filled with a variety of heavy riffs, strange tapping, and wild fretwork typical of the Buckethead style. His performance is as incredible as ever, further strengthened by talented guest musicians. Drums on most tracks are played by Brain (Brian Mantia) of Praxis, Pieces, and Primus. Godflesh fans may also recognize his work on “Songs of Love and Hate”. His performance is right along the same lines as his full-time bands. Drum programming has been used on tracks without Brain. I am not sure what purpose that serves, but I don’t find it surprising. Les Claypool, also of Primus, plays bass on most tracks and provides vocals on the theme song “The Ballad of Buckethead”. His playing cannot be questioned, as he IS the master of bass. Whether it’s the standard fingering or a slapping frenzy, he helps make the album interesting.

Most of the songs on this album are instrumentals. The overall album is a combination of various musical styles, like metal, blues, jazz, rap, funk, disco, techno, industrial, and everything else in between. And the album is filled with electronics, whether it’s drum programming, toys, video games, R2 D2, or turntables. Now being the metalhead I am, sometimes these things get annoying. But Buckethead usually pulls through with some heavy-ass riff or out-of-control soloing. Another guest and Praxis member is Bootsy Collins, who provides “vocals” on a few tracks. Bootsy is just plain weird. Ever see Parliament CDs at the record store? That’s Bootsey on the cover! He really doesn’t sing, just rambles on about who knows what. The song “The Shape Vs. Buckethead” includes both Bootsy’s ramblings and also some rap vocals by someone named Oui-Wey. Now these vocals I simply don’t like. It’s not the fact that they’re rap vocals (please don’t kill me EvilG – all rapped vocals suck and are an abomination (EvilG)), it’s just that the guy sounds like a dumb ass.

Praxis fans should not even hesitate to get this album. Fans of Primus and, it hurts to say it, “alternative” music may also find this interesting. As for you metalheads, you better listen before you buy! If you love strange, insane, and amazing guitar shredding you may find enough interest in this to look past any negative aspects. Check out these sites for additional information: www.bucketheadland.com www.cyberoctave.com and www.monstersandrobots.com


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