Sound — 8
Puscifer has been Maynard James Keenan's solo project since its inception in 2007. The name of the project was initially called "Umlaut", but was later changed to Puscifer after the first episode of "Mr. Show" where it was presented as a fictional band with Adam Jones (of Tool) and Maynard as members. Adam Jones has no involvement what'soever in Puscifer except for some art design work for merchandise. According to Wikipedia, Maynard has described Puscifer as "simply a playground for the various voices in my head" and as "where my Id, Ego and Anima all come together to exchange cookie recipes". "Conditions Of My Parole" was recorded at Keenan's Caduceus Cellars in Jerome, Arizona. Production was completed by Maynard, Mat Mitchell and Josh Eustis. There were approximately a dozen contributing musicians involved in the recording of the album. While Maynard has described Puscifer's sound as "a premiere improvisational hardcore band", the actual sound of "q" is very eclectic with the one unifying characteristic is a dark atmosphere. There is everything from acoustic, to metal to techno elements on the album that somehow all work together towards the common goal of Maynard's vision. I haven't really been a big fan of Puscifer's previous releases, but "Conditions Of My Parole" has really grabbed me. The tracks are mainly slow to mid tempo songs of dark and/or sad/melancholy atmosphere. There is a lot of creative percussion throughout the album. There are a few guest vocalists. The overall end product is a powerful album that despite a very eclectic combination of tracks doesn't lose its continuity. There are 12 tracks and the album clocks in at just over 50 minutes.
Lyrics — 7
For the most part the vocals are all Maynard, but there is an occasional guest vocalist on some of the tracks on the album. Maynard's voice remains as distinctive and haunting as ever. The lyrics have a dark and mysterious quality to them, and really fit the music and album. On the track "The Weaver", Maynard sings "Observing the shades/ interpreting signs/ withholding the patterns". On the track "Tiny Monsters", the lyrics begin "Day gives way to night/ on the storefront mannequins/ the audience with Mona Lisa grins/ moonlight builds emotion". The vocal delivery is varied in style and cadence, but it all comes across as clearly Maynard.
Overall Impression — 8
Fans of Tool and A Perfect Circle, as well as existing fans of Puscifer are going to want to pick up this album. This is by far the best Puscifer album, in my humble opinion. The standout tracks to me are "Man Overboard", "Telling Ghosts", "Horizons' and "Toma". I can't really point out any bad tracks on this album. I'm more of an album type of person than a single song type of person, and "Conditions Of My Parole" is like a dream come true an eclectic album with continuity despite the variety. This album will be getting a semi-permanent place on my mp3 player along with my other recent addition, Jane's Addiction's "The Great Escape Artist". I've read that Puscifer is also a clothing line and chain of stores owned by Maynard, and I can't seem to make myself care about any of that, but this album has blown me away. I've read that Puscifer doesn't really tour, just mainly plays shows in the southwest with just an occasional show on the east coast. I personally live on the east coast and I'll be keeping my eyes open to see if they will be coming to a concert venue within driving distance anything in the near future. If you live in the southwest, I would encourage you to try to catch them live. I imagine it would be a show worth seeing. In the meantime, I'll have to make do with "Conditions Of My Parole".