When I first read the title of this album from guitar virtuoso Buckethead, I remembered one of the more infamous scenes from John Waters’ seminal cult film Pink Flamingo’s. Fortunately, this frenetically paced album in no way resembles anything from that movie.
Buckethead has made a great reputation as a collaborator with such luminaries as Bill Laswell, Bootsy Collins, Primus bassist and wild/front man Les Claypool, and actor/musician Viggo Mortensen. He’s also produced thirteen solo albums. As with many of those albums, Buckethead displays his penchant for metal played at blinding speeds on Enter the Chicken.
Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of speed metal. It’s like a cousin of punk from the wrong side of the tracks that people tolerate instead of welcome into their lives, and the genre borrows too heavily from its progenitor in order to establish a personality. Yet, there is something tremendously satisfying about how Buckethead plays the form. Buckethead’s focus on technical precision, counterpoint dynamics, and the extraordinary live presence that comes from each song breathes life into a pretty stale musical concept.
What truly separates Buckethead from his colleagues in metal is his fanatical devotion to experimentation on each of his albums. On this effort, there are a few achingly beautiful world beat tributes, some great grindcore, and a tip of the bucket to The Butthole Surfers on a perfectly hilarious track which the promotion company has misidentified as “rap”.
Enter the Chicken distinguishes itself in another way, adding eleven different guest vocalists including: Saul Williams and Efram Schulz (Death By Stereo); Maura Davis (Denali, Bella Lea); Azam Ali (Vas, Niyaz); Bad Acid Trip, Maximum Bob (Deli Creeps); Gigi, Shana Halligan, and Ani Maldjian. Even producer Serj Tankian, vocalist extraordinaire from System of the Down is on the guest list, singing on original tunes “We Are One” and “Waiting Hare”. On tracks like “Running from the Light” and “Coma”, the haunting vocals inspire rivulets of cold sweat to form down your spine while the instrumentation takes you on a journey on narrow dirt streets and dark alleys of what sounds like Eastern Europe before the fall of Communism. Both of these songs are groundbreaking achievements.
Whether you’re a fan of metal or not, give Enter the Chicken some turns on your CD player. It’s the kind of album that will wrench strong emotion from you, and leave you feeling completely turned on and tuned in to Buckethead’s mysterious world. And the first listen will wipe the chicken scene from Pink Flamingo’s out of your memory forever. It’s worth the price of admission into Bucketheadland for that alone.