Tool, damn awesome. A Perfect Circle, pretty cool. Puscifer, kind of weird. That pretty much sums up Maynard James Keenan’s projects up until now. Puscifer is essentially Maynard solo project. Something that he can work on when he has some time, can bring any number of guest musicians in that he wants to and doesn’t need to filter out oddball things that don’t quite fit the landscape of his other two bands.
When Keenan released “V” is for Vagina in 2007, critics heaped praise upon it but still to this day I feel that was simply because it was cool to dig him and whatever he did. In reality the album (and the 700 remixes that followed) were a jumbled mess of clashing styles and uncontrolled chaos. And while I and everyone else was warned before hand that it was a little different, it didn’t make it any better. So now that studio album #2 is here, for me the expectations were very low, which makes Conditions of My Parole all that much better.
This is nothing like the first record. If you truly dug that one, you actually might be disappointed at how straightforward this one is. While there is certainly some of Maynard tongue-in-cheek humor on stuff like the title track, it seems to be a more serious record than the first. Musically, it’s a rock record with many electronic elements but the basic song structures are relatively conventional for what I was expecting. Again, for me this is a great thing. Quieter tunes like “Monsoons,” “Oceans” or especially “Horizons” sound a lot like the dark rock vibe of A Perfect Circle just with some quirky programming making each track stand out. The key track on the album for me is “The Rapture” with a kind of creepy feel and menacing lyrics like, “You better hope it takes you / before I do / I’m about to drop you / like Cain dropped Abel.” For those of you that still want a little something like the first record, there’s the banjo-led closing track, “Tumbleweed.”
Leading up to the release I had heard rumors of Maynard working with people like Joey Jordison of Slipknot, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine, Danny Lohner, Milla Jovovich and more – though none of them actually show up in the album credits. So there might be quite a bit more out there unheard. There are a bunch of artists on the record but the key personal involved in much of the album are Carina Round on vocals, Mat Mitchell as a jack of all trades, Jonny Polonsky on guitar and Josh Eustis from Black Light Burns doing most of the programming.
A pretty solid lineup of musicians here, leads to a damn fine record, one that’s light years better than the first and would seem to be a sound that would nicely lead into a new A Perfect Circle record in the near future. In the meantime, those starving for something new from Maynard should pick up Conditions of My Parole and a bottle of his wine and shack up tonight.
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