BUCKETHEAD — Pike 283 - Once Upon A Distant Plane (review)

BUCKETHEAD — Pike 283 - Once Upon A Distant Plane album cover Album · 2020 · Alternative Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
BUCKETHEAD’s 2020 return hasn’t exactly been up to the level of previous years but he’s certainly been cranking out more products than the average artist with five releases so far this year along with a something fairly new which is a bunch of singles. Always finding a way to be a bit off kilter and a major headache for databases, the chicken lover has hatched a new egg from the coop in the form of PIKE 283 - ONCE UPON A DISTANT PLANE but the wild thing is that this follows “Pike 279 - Skeleton Keys” so it’s clear that a bunch of PIKEs have hatched but not been completely finished and BH is releasing them out of order.

This is another around 30 minute PIKE with six tracks and fits right in with pretty much a majority of those in the PIKE serious. It’s all instrumental, heavily steeped in alternative rock / metal and finds the prolific one playing all the instruments. Also like many PIKEs these days, it has a been there / done that familiarity that doesn’t really allow it to stick out from the incessant flow of PIKEs of the last 10 years.

The opening title track runs over ten minutes and easily swallows up a third of the playing time. While familiar sounding it is a bit different in that is mixes the slow lullaby styled slower PIKE tunes with the heavier alternative ones in that it has a slower mid-tempo procession with spaced out atmospheric backing with crunchy guitar heft with echo effects. Melodically it sounds like a gazillion releases before but on the production end of things it’s much more refined in how a warm atmospheric haze oscillates in the background.

“The Cosmic Mirror” pretty much follows the same way. Introductory echoey spaced out guitars find electric guitars slow build up. The familiar melody and dynamics doesn’t make this one stand out much. “Space Beyond Question” is a bit more interesting with a nice groove and then sounds like a banjo part followed by some cool guitar distortion and unique drum interaction. This is the kind of track i keep sticking around to listen to the next PIKE however these interesting gems are too far and few between these days. This is one of those tracks that changes up tempo, dynamics, timbres and time signatures and the kind i love best from BUCKET-Bro. Sounds a bit like something that could’ve been on “Monsters And Robots,” one of my top BH picks.

“The Miner’s Lamp” is another satisfying groovy metal track that quickly transmogrifies into an avant-garde space sequence then to funk metal and then back to the clean guitar avant-prog weirdness and then back to a bombastic metal groovy stomp sequence. It’s just as innovative and basically based on the blues but very cleverly done. Another winner! The final two tracks showcase another new phenomena as of 2020 with BH adding a track or two of live tracks that appeared on previous PIKES.

“Ghosts Of Broken Eggs” originally appeared on “Pike 101 - In The Hollow Hills and is basically a slow bluesy rocker that showcases some guitar soloing. Nothing super exciting compositionally speaking but well performed. The second live track is the title one from the more recent “Pike 274 - Forneau Cosmique” which begins with a clean space rock guitar but quickly erupts into the now classic alternative metal groove from countless PIKEs. BH basically solos around a rather ho hum metal riff. These types of BH tracks are undynamic and not really my favorites but the track is competently performed and decent if you haven’t heard a gazillion almost identical examples.

Overall PIKE 283 will be remembered more for being released before PIKEs 280-282 in the wild rollercoaster ride of 2020. Two tracks: “Space Beyond Question” and “The Miner’s Lamp” are excellent top notch BH material and although the rest of the album isn’t OMG excellent creatively speaking, this is a fairly consistent PIKE in its content and presentation. Good but not really the best of the best.
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