The self-proclaimed “playground for the various voices in my head,” Puscifer is a further outlet for the creative genius of Tool mastermind Maynard James Keenan. Wallowing in the strange blend of trip-hop, industrial, and heavy rock that Keenan has been cultivating since its debut, Puscifer’s newest release Conditions Of My Parole is another strong offering from the enigmatic singer and his cadre of accomplices.
Opener “Tiny Monsters” is a mellow, driving blend of keyboard pads and ethereal vocals, leading to “The Green Valley” and its funky undercurrent. “Telling Ghosts” recalls the electronica-tinged metal of Tool’s earlier releases, while “Man Overboard” pairs a catchy trance beat with Keenan’s apocalyptic lyrics to create a standout track. “The Rapture (Fear Is A Mind Killa Mix)” features the incomparable Sharone brothers on bass and drums, as well as an irreverent combination of Biblical allegories and hip-hop metaphors that give way to the swinging grind of “Conditions Of My Parole.” Finally, the darkwave styling of “Oceans” takes us to the soft banjo strains of “Tumbleweed”, featuring vocalist Carina Round.
Produced once again by Keenan and Mat Mitchell, Parole features the same textural sound of its predecessors. However, due to the large cast of backing musicians, each song has its own particular sound. The driving drums of “The Rapture,” provided by Gil Sharone, differ greatly from the orchestral-style percussion of “Tumbleweed”, supplied by Tim Alexander. In fact, were it not for Keenan’s inimitable voice tying it together, Parole would sound like a disparate collection of songs.
Tool fans in need of a Maynard fix will definitely want to pick this up, as will fans of Puscifer’s other works. It’s a lot more rock-oriented than V Is For Vagina, yet still retains the electronic weirdness than defines the band. If nothing else, it will hold you until the next Tool record comes out in 60 years.