Released October 18, 2011
50 min, 54 sec
Somewhere between “C” is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE) and Conditions of My Parole, Maynard James Keenan decided to get serious about the music he made with side project Puscifer. Maybe he looked down the tunnel and saw no Tool album in the near future (or, at that point, the future at all), maybe he thought A Perfect Circle wasn’t what he was really looking for, or maybe he just decided to take his real creativity to Puscifer. In any case, the album that resulted is very little like “V” is for Vagina, in that it hews far closer to Keenan’s “main” band in subject matter and the manner in which the band now takes itself seriously.
Conditions of My Parole wouldn’t work as a Tool album, to be sure. But Keenan’s lyricism often feels straight out of Tool’s playbook, singing of abstract concepts in his wavy, dreamlike vocals. In this, he is aided by vocalist Carina Round, one of Puscifer’s more permanent members since 2011, becoming as much of a face for the band as Keenan himself. Puscifer remains Keenan’s brainchild, and he is still billed as the sole studio member, but a consistent band has formed behind him in recent years, with Josh Eustis, Matt McJunkins, and Jeff Friedl being the band’s most consistent contributors, appearing on both Conditions and follow-up EP Donkey Punch the Night.
Conditions is a powerful album, combining the band’s fondness for electronics with a hard metal-esque sound that recalls Tool at times, but primarily stands on its own, creating a third pillar of sound to complement Tool and A Perfect Circle.
But Puscifer has always striven to not be defined by Keenan’s main band. It is defined as a solo project, a playground for Keenan to do essentially whatever he wants, the way he wants to do it. That comes through more on Donkey Punch the Night than here; Conditions is a thematically and musically consistent album all throughout its tracks, even as it allows itself brief indulegences in the bizarre (look no further than the cover art for an example of that).
Indeed, Conditions may well be the end of such consistency, as Keenan has expressed a desire to release Puscifer music in smaller doses, as EPs, like Donkey Punch the Night, or even as single tracks, distributed in any manner possible. One can only hope that Carina Round is involved in any potential plans Keenan has. Or, perhaps, that Tool will finally release that god damn album they’ve been talking about for the past seven years. Either one.