[Album Review] Puscifer ‘Donkey Punch The Night EP’

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Singer Maynard James Keenan seems to have found a very happy, comforting second home in the form of Puscifer. A project that is challenging and inventive, Puscifer satisfies needs, emotions, and sounds that Tool is unable to provide. And while we all wait for a fifth Tool album, there is something to be said about the investment and energy that Keenan invests into Puscifer.

I’ve made it quite clear that I was never a fan of the first Puscifer release, V Is For Vagina but also how I was completely won over by Conditions Of My Parole. Now I’ve been presented with a new EP entitled Donkey Punch The Night Away. With two new tracks, two covers and three remixes, it’s an interesting beast, one that took more than a few spins to really understand and appreciate. Join me below for my full thoughts.

The album opens up with the band’s cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the ubiquitous and unmistakable Queen song. It’s a faithful rendition that is immediately recognizable without being a carbon copy. By changing a few of the vocal melodies and creating some original sounds and tones, it’s a great cover. However, it’s so out of place tonally with the rest of the album that it simply doesn’t fit. Even if the lyrics of the song are morose and dark, the music is far too chipper to be a part of this collection.

The next track is the first new song, “Breathe”, which I love, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s very adventurous in terms of the sonic textures and tones it uses, ranging from haunting guitars to sci fi-esque synth patches. The vocal play between Keenan and Carina Round are fascinating, their voices playfully teasing each other, caressing seductively. Indeed, this entire song has a strong erotic vibe pulsing throughout.

Afterwards, we are treated to the second new song, “Dear Brother”, which sounds like a natural progression from the tracks of Conditions Of My Parole. Much like how that album was described as Twin Peaks set in the desert, this track has a dusty, open feel about it.

The album then comes around to another cover, this time of the classic ‘80’s heavy metal anthem, Accept’s “Balls To The Wall”. While the original is balls out (no pun intended) metal, this cover is far more emotional and features an intro that is quite reminiscent of A Perfect Circle’s “Brena”. In the end, this song is a beautiful cover that builds to a desperate, large chorus. This cover will easily satisfy fans of Depeche Mode and The Cult.

From there the album features three mixes, one for “Breathe”, one for “Dear Brother”, and one for “Balls To The Wall”. The “Breathe (Drumcell Rework)” remix is very cold and mechanical with the voices hovering like ghosts above. It would make for a perfect end credits song for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo. The “Dear Brother (Denton Rework)” remix is heavily inspired by ‘80’s electronic and features syncopated stabbing synths. At points, the vocals are pitch-shifted so low they seem almost demonic. The final remix, the “Balls To The Wall (Silent Servant El Guapo Mix)”, features no vocals whatsoever and is quite monotonous. However, it is incredibly hypnotic and its 4+ minute length goes by quickly and without warning.

The Final Word: Donkey Punch The Night is a very solid EP that will definitely appeal to Puscifer fans as well as those who are into intelligent and challenging music. While it is bookended by tracks that ultimately hinder the full product, the tracks within are of stellar quality and writing, making this a very worthy EP to check out.

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  • Adam Dodd

    Mmm, the ole donkey punch. Good times.

  • thaphantom

    I love Maynard, but he isn’t the same without Chancellor, Jones, and Carey… TOOL