Puscifer released their third album on October 30th. To me, as a Puscifer fan, it’s a real culmination of the last six years, entwining the dark, brooding instrumentation of past works, and the strong, rounded songwriting of only three people; Maynard James Keenan, Mat Mitchell and Carina Round.
As Keenan is the founder of the project, it’s interesting to see how it has apparently come together. Puscifer has had many guest members along the way, notably Joey Jordison, Tim Alexander, and Milla Jovovich, but Mitchell and Round have toured, written and recorded with Puscifer for a number of years.
Originally started as a project in which Keenan could take complete creative control, and go as far as he wanted to, Puscifer has been met with mixed reaction over its time. As the vocalist and writer for the bands Tool and A Perfect Circle, he certainly has many fans, and many of them remain unimpressed with the direction of Puscifer, especially as it has been almost 10 years since the last Tool album, despite plenty of hints at a new one coming soon.
So, if you’re hoping for a more rock style, akin to Keenan’s most famous bands, and you’re not a fan of Puscifer, look away now.
The record eases in, as it means to go on. The opener, “Galileo” is a smooth, sultry, electro gem. It relaxes me right into my beanbag chair. The offbeat percussion and minor harmonies between Keenan and Round are nothing short of stunning, and the lyrics implore us to listen and open our minds to what the rest of the album has to say.
“Agostina” is full of 90s alt feeling, and is a dedication to Keenan’s daughter, born last year. I always feel a little awkward about songs like this. While I understand its placement in the album – she is hope, and she represents what we should all be fighting for – it does feel like someone showing you pictures of their children/grandchildren in the staff canteen at work. You don’t know these children, and you probably never will, but you have to politely “aww” those Facebook photos until lunch is over.
“Grand Canyon” is a true beauty, even if I am a little put-off by the slight pretentiousness of the chorus. I can let it all off, though. But then, I am a fan. The video is an absolute spectacle, however, so I’m going to put it at the bottom for you. It’s worth it, believe me.
Title track, “Money Shot”, is a rip-roarer and definitely the heaviest of the record. It’s fun and punky; a standout, with traits similar to progressive metal peers from Keenan’s Tool days, such as Dillinger Escape Plan and even a little Meshuggah.
Carina Round’s vocals on this record are a wonderful accompaniment. “The Arsonist” is one of my favourite tracks. The bridge moves into a groove, electro rock climax, reminiscent of Gorillaz, or Massive Attack, and The two vocalists are layered in a great way.
“The Remedy” kicks off like a Sega Mega Drive boss battle, and continues the vocalisation and flow of its predecessor. Maynard James Keenan is unmistakable in his delivery throughout the album, which is a diversion from past recordings. This track reminds me of being a teenager, and though I’m not sure of the message, that’s nothing new in Keenan’s writing. He leaves most up for interpretation.
The next track, “Smoke and Mirrors”, almost seems as though it follows on from the last. Someone has upset the balance of a group by going behind others’ backs. They were found out. That’s what I understand, anyway. “The Remedy” was angry, “Smoke and Mirrors” is closure. This seems far more personal than anything else on the record. The two writers, Keenan and Mitchell, are also the only two performers, and it’s raw.
“Autumn” rounds the album off as a peaceful ballad, building to an emotional, satisfying end. I can’t stop playing this album during those wind down after work hours, sipping tea (or coconut rum), and debating the thoughts in my head.
While the intriguing experimental elements of Puscifer are still evident now and again, this is a slow-paced electronica/alternative rock episode, and thankfully the crude sexual references are long gone. It’s great for chilled alone time, or time with someone(s) close to you who will get the same experience from it, and it will only enhance the experience of whatever you like to do with that time.
- “Grand Canyon”
- “Money Shot”
- “The Arsonist”
- “The Remedy”
- “Smoke and Mirrors”
- “Life of Brian (Apparently You Haven’t Seen)”