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Puscifer perfects terms of parole on sophomore full-length album

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“Conditions of My Parole” seems to be a fitting title for the sophomore studio album from Puscifer.

Puscifer gets its notoriety from its creator and only permanent band member, Maynard James Keenan, the vocals behind Tool and A Perfect Circle. Keenan has described his experimental side project as his “creative subconscious.”

While the band’s 2007 debut album was full of explosive guitar riffs and biting story lines, Keenan seems to be playing by a new set of rules and giving his intentionally offensive lyrics a rest for now.

The opening tracks “Tiny Monsters,” “Green Valley” and “Monsoons” are uncharacteristically soft and slow. The songs are catchy and belong on a soundtrack for relaxation. The lack of counter-culture in the lyrics and soothing background music may come as a disappointment for fans of Kennan’s previous work, however.

Things seem to pick up around the middle of the album, with tracks like “Man Overboard” and “The Rapture (Fear Is A Mind Killa Mix).” Keenan sheds the ambient sound and returns to the powerful rock his followers are used to. His lyrics improve and his perfect articulation over an inconsistent beat in the background make “Man Overboard” the unsettling experience. Still, Keenan’s knack for in-your-face lyrics and defying social norms remains absent.

The title track provides the best source of comedy rock, reminiscent of their previous album. The track opens with Keenan shooting out a story of the narrator’s most recent arrest, and continues with the strange story of the man’s crimes and his fear of the woman he’s wronged.

“The Weaver” is easily the best song on the album. It provides a sound similar to past work, but progresses enough to serve as a bridge between the two sounds.

While the album is off to an unusual start, strong songs in the middle and a great finish make the album an unexpected success and certainly worth a listen.

Grade: A-

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