Ah, finally, Pike 51. Out of all 275 of Buckethead's Pikes, there are only two that are consistently ranked as some of his all time best works. While some may point their personal preference to Look Up There, or It's Alive, or Smells Like Frogs, there will always be two specific albums that will rank as some of his best, and the two best Pikes. Those being Pike 51 and Pike 65.
Pike 51, Claymation Courtyard, is one that I went into with a lot of expectations. So far, being about ten albums into Buckethead's 2014 run, he has released nothing but truly great albums. While there are some that are clearly better than others, as well as some that may not hold up quite as well as his all time best, all of them have been above a 70, which is impressive for Buckethead. He is usually an artist who values quantity over quality, like with many of his 2013 releases being well below his usual average. So seeing so many Buckethead albums that are above his average all released one-after-another, all within months, weeks, even days apart from each other, it genuinely shows the true talent of this man. He may not have the cleanest discography, but he definitely has some truly great moments. So far, the first few months of 2014 have proven to be his best run of releases yet, and Claymation Courtyard may be the one to rule them all.
I have to admit that the first track didn't really do much for me. While it wasn't anywhere close to being bad, I think my hype to finally be listening to another one of Buckethead's most popular releases really got me expecting something I maybe shouldn't have. However, as soon as that track ended and I was greeted with the fourteen minute Disintegration Mirrors, I understood just why this is as loved as it is. That song had so many awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping moments that it is easily one of the best Buckethead songs of all time. With some remarkable riffs, incredibly impressive shredding, this singular track does everything to prove why I love Buckethead so much. While it ain't no Soothsayer as it lacks the emotional angle that that track has, it's still a fantastic track that is definitely up there as one of the best instrumental tracks I've ever heard. There's also the nine minute closer, Eerie Canal, which is great for many of the same reasons. Buckethead proves himself on this album time and time again to be one frankly amazing guitarist, and it really is a shame that he doesn't hold himself to this standard all the time. While it does look like he's changing that in his 2014 releases, he has done enough in the past to make me worry about the remaining 40+ albums I have to go through from this year. While I still have hope that he keeps up this momentum (hell, Pike 65 also came out in 2014, so I still have that to look forward to), I can't help but imagine just how bad it might get. I didn't even imagine that Buckethead could get as bad as he did in Sphere Facade in his 2013 releases, so how bad could he get during 2014's releases?