V, Not for Vendetta
Grab them saddlebags and toss ’em over me / let’s ride home might not be lyrics that the average Tool/A Perfect Circle fan would expect from singer Maynard James Keenan, but on “Queen B” they fit surprisingly well. Puscifer, a long-gestating project of Keenan’s, brims over with this type of blatant sexual double entendre on its debut “V” is for Vagina. Whereas the first few glimpses of Puscifer were on the soundtracks to the vampire-based Underworld movies, V finds comfort in a darker, sinister mood almost completely absent of any hard guitar rock.
Keenan is supported by a large cast, most prominent among them Mat Mitchell and Brian Lustmord on programming and Primus drummer Tim Alexander. The tracks on V focus more on the percussion and a swirling series of keyboards and sound effects. The pace of “Trekka” rests solely in its menacing tribal backbeat and a modulated vocal sample. “Dozo (Version 2)” bounces forward with splashy snare drums and a three-note guitar melody drenched in tremolo, building tension with apparent porn moan samples while Keenan promises to “show you the difference between my gun and pistol.”
Keenan opts to search for every nuance and unconventional approach he can muster with his voice, thoroughly experimenting on this unheard-of blank canvas. The three songs closing “V” is for Vagina highlight such experiments in knockout fashion. “Indigo Children” finds Keenan processing his vocals to create an endless chorus; “Sour Grapes” is done almost entirely in character, a sermon ranted over a mounting gospel choir and imposing bassline; “Rev. 22:20” combines the sexual and anti-religious themes circling the album and sets them against a mere piano in lounge-act fashion.
This is certainly not for the squeamish or the easily offended, but for those seeking something truly unique from a remarkably talented vocalist look no further. While it’s also not what Keenan’s fans may expect, Puscifer is as rewarding and challenging as any release from his mainstay projects.