Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of progressive rock’s arguably greatest band Tool, continues to churn out songs under his solo industrial/alternative rock project Puscifer, while fans who wait for anything from Tool (their last album was released in 2006), grow either impatient or indifferent. Sure, there’s Keenan’s inconspicuous voice with Puscifer, but the heaviness and lyrical/musical art behind Tool’s songs are done away with when it comes to Puscifer. His fifth solo release, Donkey Punch the Night, is an eight-track EP quirky and remixed to the hilt.
It’s as though Keenan does this to troll fans of his band, especially with the humorous songwriting on his past four releases. The humour extends to presentation too, as is evident by the Microsoft Paint skills for the album cover. Yes, it’s funny, but for how long can Keenan stretch the joke? As disgruntled a Tool fan you may be, when you listen to Donkey Punch The Night open with a cover (or Keenan likes to call it, an “O.G. Mix”) of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, you begin to get the joke. Keenan says the covers of Queen and classic metal band Accept’s ‘Balls To The Wall’ were “itches meant to be scratched”. Take whatever innuendo you have to from that (because he only works through wordplay), the original songs on this EP back up the covers to show Keenan’s industrial rock leanings. ‘Breathe’ has a 1980s pulsing bassline and slow drumming matched with a droning synth, while Keenan whispers lustfully. ‘Dear Brother’ is a bit dreamier, in its reverb-heavy vocals and guitars, as Keenan’s eulogy hopes his departed friend will “donkey punch the night away.”
The punch is missing on ‘Balls to the Walls’, but safe to say that Keenan had different plans with it. That’s the case with the remaining four remixes of the first four tracks, featuring electro industrial artists such as Drumcell, Sonoio and Denton making them darker and much more ambient. The songs squelch and scream and churn in typical industrial style. The Sonoio remix of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ doesn’t even have anything to do with the Queen original or Keenan’s opening cover.
Donkey Punch The Night proves that Puscifer, as a solo project, was not just meant to hold off Tool fans, but to gain its own. Keenan carries his love of industrial music with good regard on this EP, but fans are still waiting to hear his true genius on the next Tool album.
Bottomline: A joke you can laugh about and enjoy listening to; till the next Tool album.
Donkey Punch The Night; Puscifer, Puscifer Entertainment, Rs.395