Sound — 9
This being my first Buckethead album, I was quite surprised. I expected an all-out metal attack, considering his appearance and reputation for being of the most technical instrumental guys out there. Seeing articles on him, his influences, being taught by Paul Gilbert, along with the ever popular single 'Jordan', I expected an album completely different. What I received was an album that's simply beautiful. It's a clever mixture of the heavy metal riffage I expected, along with smooth, melodic, emotional interludes scattered among s few of the tracks. It's a great change of pace from other instrumental guys, it just has a different mix of sound. If you're expecting Satriani, Vai, or Malmsteen, you're in for a pleasant change of pacing that isn't necessarily better or worse, it's just different. I would say that the only real "negative" is that this great soundscape gets somewhat redundant to the point where you expect him to break down into slightly overdriven chords, whereas is feels more natural and unexpected in the early parts. It's all good music, it just loses some of it's appeal towards the end.
Lyrics — 8
In the instrumental rock genre, it's obvious that the attention is automatically drawn to the virtuosos at hand. Some guys really pull of the instrumental sound, some making you almost forget the vocals aren't there. Buckethead surprisingly (to me) does a solid job doing this, but I wouldn't say it's on the same level as Gilbert, Petrucci (solo), or Satch. It gets close, but it just falls a tad short. I don't really expect a bucket-toting, mask-wearing mystery such as Buckethead to go around singing ballads, but then again I didn't expect his guitar parts to be as emotional or vocal as they are.
Overall Impression — 9
This album really opened up my eyes to Buckethead. I can see why his fans really do love his work. It's a breath of fresh air in the instrumental rock/guitar genre, a style of it's own. When you consider the man behind the soundscape of mayhem being presented to you, it almost makes the music even more interesting. It's all part of the hype and mystery behind him; a collection of stories, rumors, and fascination that seems to draw people to check him out. To be completely honest I just put this album on and let it play through until I get bored with it, so I'm not too familiar with many of the names of the songs. Some standouts include "Sail On Soothsayer", "Stretching Lighthouse", and "Ghost Host". I can't really stress enough that it's a different experience compared to other virtuoso stuff, for which I really recommend this album. It tends to get old quicker than many albums, but it's got enough quality and emotion in it to stick out in my mind.