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5 stars Buckethead - Pike 158: Twisted Branches

"Twisted Branches" is the 158th album in the Pike series from guitar virtuoso Buckethead. Buckethead has released an immense amount of music this year, as you can see with this album being the 158th in a series of releases that began in 2011. While Buckethead has made Senmuth look like Tool when it comes to releasing albums, that's not to say there are no diamonds in the rough. In this album's case, it's certainly a gem.

The album is of short running time, clocking in at almost a half-hour and being split into eight tracks. The first five are parts 1-5 of a title track. The first part of the title track begins with a very nice classical-esque intro in typical thrash fashion, before the thrash comes in. There's some especially catchy guitar riffs about halfway through, and towards the end there is an almost White Zombie-esque groove to the guitar. Since the title track is in five parts, it of course goes all over the place. Usually it stays with catchy and headbang-ready thrashing, with some groovy riffs thrown in. The most notable changes are when it will go into a space-y ambiance. This happens at the beginning of part four of the title track, and it really adds to the music with very beautiful guitar work where they really sing. However, at the end of part four you are assaulted with crushing thrash riffing mixed with more singing guitars.

Like most Buckethead albums, it's completely instrumental. However, with this album it sure has some great singing guitars. One example is the aforementioned part four. Part five also has some amazing guitar soloing, some of the most beautiful I've ever heard. The soloing has a really nice progression from higher to lower and vice-versa. These segments are placed in between each of the furious thrashing parts of the song.

The last three songs on the album are separate from the 'Twisted Branches' parts. The first of these, 'Collapse Cliff', is the longest on the album clocking in at 6:44. This song wastes no time with giving crunching riffs and killer shredding. The riffs keep changing up during the song though, so it never gets boring. The next song 'Mummy in the Wall' immediately opens up with soloing, but soon the riffing starts thrashing or starts to remind me of Eddie Van Halen. The final song, 'Swollen Trees' is the shortest on the album clocking in at only 1:15, but this sure is a killer short song. It feels a bit longer, because even with it's short length it manages to switch riffs. Sometimes it's more thrash-y, and sometimes it's more groovy.

Overall, this album may be only about a half-hour long, but so was "Reign in Blood". Okay, so maybe it's unfair to compare it to that, but this sure is a kick-ass thrash metal album and one of the best albums I've heard this year so far. I highly recommend this album to any fans of thrash, shredding, and soloing.

Pastmaster | 5/5 |


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