CD REVIEWS ISSUE 13 Page 4
By Bob Nalbandian
BUCKETHEAD & FRIENDS
ENTER THE CHICKEN
SERJICAL STRIKE RECORDS
The latest solo project from Buckethead, Enter The Chicken, is by far his best to date. This is Buckethead's first release on Serjical Strike, the label spearheaded by System Of A Down frontman/vocalist Serj Tankian (who also produced the record). Serj even lends his vocals on the opening track "We Are One' (followed by a 15 second intro), perhaps the strongest cut on the CD sounding quite similar to SOAD with rapid-fire riffs and explosive inner-galactic guitar solos. Serj also sings on the tracks "Coma" (along with Azam Ali) and "Waiting Hare" (also featuring Shana Haligan), both tracks similar in style, bordering operatic Lilith-type melodrama in the vein of Bjork meets Enya. Both are well-written songs but not really my cup of tea. I also don't care for the quasi-death-metal tracks "Botnus" and "Funbus," although providing excellent fret-work they come across sounding like a cheap version of Slipknot (actually, any version of Slipknot is cheap in my book). The two closing tracks "The Hand" (featuring Maximum Bob Ani Maldjian on vox) and "Nottingham Lace" are both bizarrely brilliant. "The Hand" opens with the "Intro" and then bursts into a sonic explosion of nonsensical madness. Parts of the song remind me of the early '70s loony-ness of Zappa and Alice Cooper. Even more closely resembling the phenomenally talented, equally demented Swedish outfit Shining Path featuring the extraordinary talents of Jonas Hellborg and Anders and Jens Johansson (Shining Path's No Other World CD is an underground metal classic! But even more bizarre and disturbing is the trio's alter ego RAF - Ode To A Tractor both released back in 1992 and way ahead of its time). The closing track "Nottingham Lace" is a great instrumental displaying interesting sonic-funkadelic twists highlighted by incredibly tasteful lead work by Buckethead - with a thick, rich tone his classic-metal guitar-styling sounds very reminiscent to that of Michael Schenker. One of the best guitar instrumental tracks I've heard in quite some time. Enter The Chicken is without question a brilliantly diverse musical masterpiece. Tankian is probably correct in his statement, "Enter The Chicken is the most diverse rock record of the year." It's understandable why Buckethead didn't last with Axel Rose, and hopefully this new solo venture guided by Tankian will finally give this masterful musician the attention he deserves (with or without the KFC bucket). Whether or not all the hype about being raised in a chicken coup by chickens is true, it doesn't really matter because the fact is this is one musician that doesn't need any hype to boost his extraordinary talents.
England's own Dragonforce are ready to prove to the metal community that Germany and Sweden aren't the only countries capable of producing first-rate neo-classical speed-metal. Their latest Sanctuary release Inhuman Rampage shows this 6-piece power-metal band in prime form belting out progressive power-metal riffs and blistering duel-guitar solos embellished by majestic keyboard interplay. Very traditional in it's metallic approach, boasting vast similarities to German and Scandinavian power-metal giants like Hammerfall, Sonata Arctica, Lost Horizon, Stratovarius, Gamma Ray, and Primal Fear, Dragonforce certainly offer nothing original to the metal spectrum but one must applaud their ability to successfully combine tasteful melodies with bombastic metallic power and sheer speedy energy. Dragonforce performs excellently throughout this disc without coming across overly self-indulgent, trite or sterile like so many of the prog-metal bands too often do. Tracks such as the opener "Through the Fire and Flames," "Revolution Deathsquad", and "The Flame of Youth" prove this band is one of the finer Euro-speedmetal bands around.
Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 13 Page 5