Enter the Chicken Review

April 25, 2009

enter-the-chicken1Artist: Buckethead

Album: Enter the Chicken

Released: October 25, 2005

Label: Serjical Strike

 

 

A friend of mine had been listening to Serj Tankian’s “Elect the Dead” album a couple days ago and said he was looking for new music. I immediately handed him this album. “Enter the Chicken” is a collaboration between Buckethead and Serj Tankian (System of a Down) that took place in 2005 – the same year System released their double album finale that was the culmination of the group’s work.

Buckethead probably wrote most of the music on “Enter the Chicken,” but I imagine the work as a whole was pretty well split between Buckethead and Serj Tankian, who produced it on his label Serjical Strike. You may recognize Buckethead from his days with Guns and Roses, which ended when Axl Rose removed him from the band for being “unreliable.” Buckethead often releases upwards of a dozen records a year under various aliases and collaborations, so I doubt Axl Rose’s practice schedule allowed him the freedom he needed. Also featured on the album are vocalists Efrem Shulz from Death by Stereo and Azam Ali of Vas.

The intro track is a quarter minute of Azam Ali singing a hauntingly operatic sample. It transitions straight into “We are One,” which is when Buckethead and Tankian first let loose. The vocals are probably more spastic than any System song, even “Vicinity of Obscenity.” The guitar riffs are also much more heavy and powerful and are punctuated by thundering drums. It’s a little like System, but with the insanity and licks of Buckethead, and an extra dose of violence. This describes most of “Botnus”, “Funbus,” and “The Hand” as well. “Three Fingers” features Efrem Shulz in a sort of rap that grooves as well as the previous tracks tore it up.

“Running from the Light” opens only with Azam Ali’s vocals, and builds from a beautifully subdued song to a showcase for Ali to wield her powerful voice as it was meant to be. “Coma” is Azam Ali’s second chance to really shine, and coupled with “Running from the Light” her voice cuts the mood of the album in half. The song is mesmerizing, from Ali’s vocals, to Tankian’s harmonizing, and finally the quiet melodic guitar of Buckethead. Following is a song that, coming from Buckethead and Tankian, could only be called a pop song – as strange as that may sound. Tankian and Ali have equal parts and alternate between harmonizing and trading off during the verses. Tankian’s reappearance in the album signifies a transition away from Ali’s relatively peaceful songs, and there’s no better way to do that than with ukulele.

“Interlude” has Tankian singing a ditty over a solitary ukulele, and switches immediately into “Funbus,” returning the album to its crazy side, and crossing into heavy metal territory. “The Hand” is a frightening piece, and not only for its brilliance. Ali sings in operatic fashion behind Tankian’s vocals, which are completely insane in both style and lyrical substance. You might feel like you’ve been clubbed with a guitar neck after listening this song, but in a good way. “Nottingham Lace” is Buckethead displayed in all his instrumental glory. Concluding a collaboration that meshed together quite a few strange styles is one of his best instrumental tracks, which is where his songwriting and chops have always looked their best.

Also of note is the 2008 reissue of the album, featuring “Shen Chi” as a bonus track. At least a few of its listeners have declared it “The Ultimate Karate Song.” Chances are you may not have this on your copy, should you choose to purchase one, so here it is (Although the quality is a little poor).  Sadly it’s not a very good representation of the rest of the album.