Puscifer – “What Is…”
Released: November 26th, 2013
I’ll admit, after listening to the first Puscifer album “V is for Vagina” (2007), I never really got hooked on Puscifer as a band. The first album is OK. It is a bit interesting musically and has some weird vocal treatments. It doesn’t spark with me like Tool or A Perfect Circle does. Puscifer is a band that started as a comedy sketch on Mr. Show after all.
In 2011 Puscifer released their second album “Conditions of My Parole”. This album kind of passed me by. I heard two tracks, one of which was an official video. Again, it didn’t really strike a chord with me. Album art and marketing I saw for it seemed centered around one of Maynard’s sketch comedy characters Billy D. It seemed juvenile. So I let “Conditions of My Parole” pass on by. This, I would later find out after watching “What is…”, was a mistake.
What is Puscifer? That is precisely what the band attempts to answer with their new live DVD and accompanying soundtrack aptly titled “What is…”. The DVD is a combination of comedy sketches featuring the crazy characters Maynard has created and performance footage of the band playing mostly tracks off “Conditions of My Parole” with a few tracks from “V is for Vagina” thrown in.
For a man who has stated that wine is his passion and music is his hobby, the level of talent and production value found in the band and with the comedy sketches is superb. “What is…” is incredibly well produced for a live DVD. It is presented with interesting camera work and angles and excellent sound quality. It breaks things up by interjecting the Puscifer comedy sketches. The live comedy sketches feature the characters Billy D. and his wife/cousin Hildy. It’s basically making fun of redneck, Grand ‘ol Opry style country comedy. It’s actually quite funny. There’s also sketches by Major Douché and filmed sketches of Billy D. and Hildy. They are all well acted and entertaining. Many of the sketches feature Maynard as Billy D. drinking beer in his underwear. Quite an interesting surprise for a frontman who seems to like to hide in the shadows most of the time.
Puscifer is known for having a revolving roster of talent, including actress Milla Jovovich at one point. This time around Maynard’s vocal counterpart is Carina Round (and she is also on guitar). She and Maynard combined add a certain level of strength, sensitivity and emotion to the music. This is what struck me the most after viewing “What is…”. Going in fresh and not having heard the “Conditions of My Parole” album, I was not at all expecting what I got when I viewed the DVD. I got so much more. I was expecting low production value, dopey sketch comedy mixed with mediocre live music. I was not expecting something so well produced and musically captivating that it would make me immediately buy “Conditions of My Parole” and the “What Is…” live soundtrack. But that is exactly what happened. And I’m already on my fourth viewing of the DVD as I write this. It’s well worth a purchase.
“Many of the sketches feature Maynard as Billy D. drinking beer in his underwear. Quite an interesting surprise for a frontman who seems to like to hide in the shadows most of the time”
Obviously whoever wrote the review hasn’t seen many tool shows. Maynard only began using the shadow effects around the year 2000. Prior to that, maynard did a VAST multitude of shows where he was up front, and wearing nothing but a thong, or women’s clothing with a stuffed bra. He’s definitely not shy, but when he is in the shadows on stage, it’s to create an effect with his silhouette. He’s not “hiding”.