The mind of Maynard James Keenan may be one of the most polarizing minds in the music industry today, if not all time. Having said that, MJK continues to punch music out across all of his projects he is a part of that continues to draw attention on a global scale. His lesser-known project (which I use that term loosely), Puscifer, is entering the “veteran” status as their fourth effort, Existential Reckoning (Alchemy Recordings), is now gracing the ears of the masses. The concept is an interesting story where Maynard, Corina Round, and Mat Mitchell are agents looking for a character that went missing in the desert, potentially alien abduction. While the first few tracks are, well, a little out there, the remaining chunk of the album is more so what one would expect from Puscifer.
After getting through the first few tracks which were, may I say, underwhelming, Existential Reckoning really opens up and offers its fine gems. “Theorems” opens up sounding like a radio transmission to/from an alien race with short bursts of vocals over the synth. Then the second half hits where the whole group spills onto the canvas with their respective instruments. The atmosphere really kicks up a notch and finishes strong. From this point forward, the record just gets better each track. “Postulous” is a high point on the record as the tempo finally picks up and away from what was starting to feel similar across tracks. Every layer in this track really stands out and leaves a lasting impression long after it ends. In every Puscifer album, I find there is always one track that really stands out amongst the rest. This album has “Fake Affront” which is coming out days before the Presidential election here in the United States and damn me if that is not perfect timing. Upbeat, MJK sounding a little pissed off behind those lyrics, and the message itself being clear is an easy win. “Far Right. Far Left. Same shit. You can drop the fake affront, pompous ass, heard it all before” is the one passage needed to get the point across.
From an end to end standpoint, Existential Reckoning is a good album, but I feel it had the ability to be a great album and just missed it. One thing Puscifer does very well, especially on previous releases, is build up a track and then tend to hit a climax in the song similar to a post-metal band. My gripe here is there were many tracks that I felt build for minutes on end, approach the climax, and then nothing would really climax. I would not say it is a let down because I still did enjoy the majority of the album, but it could have been even better. Instead, this promising release will just be that much shy of hitting the highs that the previous works were able to hit.
Buy the album here: https://puscifer.com/
7 / 10