Pike 208 - The Wishing Brook: And it's back to "normal" with a very sparse atmospheric Pike. No weird noises here, just great soundscapes using only a pad synth and a guitar. This is more atmospheric than anything released during the Halloween series. Good stuff. Pike 209 - Rooms of Illusions: Another nice mellow Pike. Love the main theme that is repeated throughout. There's more stuff going on here than on the previous Pike. Some more chordal stuff and of course more instruments. Also some really nice buildups. Didn't take long at all for Buckethead to get back into his groove. Pike 210 - Sunken Parlor: Heavy Buckethead returns! Some awesome classic Bucket riffing here. Love those "pull-off riffs". The rollercoaster track artwork is also fitting because this is totally the sort of music that could be played on a rollercoaster. Has the right twists and turns and a consistently high energy level. Also some nice tasty leads. Good stuff. The title track is shorter but still pretty cool. A little more on the shred side, but it works here. There's some crazy stuff going on and the shredding fits the rhythm parts. Love the chaotic sound of this. Great riffing and soloing. Pike 211 - Screen Door: Love the heavy riff that starts this off. Nice variety on this collection of relatively shorter songs. It's mostly pretty heavy, but he brings it down about halfway through. I really like the Pikes where he mixes things up. The swing of "Nn" is very nice. These songs are short and hit hard. A nice break from the norm as of late. Pike 212 - Hornet: Another mellow Pike. He's really going all out with those lately, which isn't a bad thing at all. Some different sounds here, especially in the percussion. Very tasteful dynamic work and some solid leads. Another winner. Pike 213 - Crumple: Buckethead's classic melodic riffing style gives a promising start to this Pike. Unfortunately this was too repetitive for me. The soloing is good but I can only take so much of it before getting bored, especially when it's over a looped rhythm track. Still, as I said, the soloing is very good. Some of his most tasteful playing in quite some time is on this Pike. So it's not bad at all. Pike 214 - Trace Candle: A very melancholy and more promising start to this one. Awesome Pike. Just Buckethead doing his thing on a clean guitar. Sometimes I find it annoying when Bucket doesn't edit it out the guitar buzz, but it works well with the atmosphere on this one. Very sparse playing, but it creates such a nice mood. Pike 215 - Teflector: I like that he seems to be alternating between heavy and mellow Pikes. This one was more of a mixed bag. A little too shreddy for me, but there were some really cool parts. It was sort of the opposite of Crumple. There were some really cool rhythmic parts going on, but they all seemed kinda unfinished because Buckethead just soloed over them instead of coming up with complementary guitar parts. So a lot of parts on here with unrealized potential. Pike 216 - Wheels of Ferris: This is more like it. Less emphasis on soloing and lots of dynamic/mood changes. The right amount of twists and turns for another amusement park themed Pike. Love the heavy triplet riff that starts off Forgotten Factory. Overall a solid slab of music with a nice variety of riffs and soulful melodies. Good stuff. Pike 217 - Pike Doors: A nice mellow Pike. Love the chilled percussion parts. They complement the music in a way his rhythm parts don't always accomplish. Then about halfway through it gets heavy. Totally unexpected, love when he does that. Great set of leads and a nice slow buildup. Third Door is short but sweet, a nice little tune. I find some of these shorter tunes end up being some of the most interesting moments on the album. Pike 218 - Old Toys: Really interesting sound on this one. The guitar tone and phrasing is a little different for him, although it eventually builds into a more "typical" Buckethead sound. What's with all the fadeouts? I'm kinda iffy with the first two tracks, but things really get going with Mount Shasta. Great tune. Oak Island is pretty unique, it has a 70s hard rock feel to it. Valley Of the Fog is a nice closing piece, like a spiritual successor to Trace Candle. More of this! I liked this Pike, although I wonder how much of it is made up of unfinished ideas from throughout the year. Like a final statement on his busiest release year ever. It does have a bit of everything, but it serves as a nice compilation that way. Pike 219 - Rain Drops On Christmas: A predictably mellow start, given the title. Not a bad thing at all though, a nice way to close out the year. Buckethead in one of his best modes. Puddles has a very nice chord melody. Things get surprisingly heavy with Cookie Monster. Cool riffing, guitar tone fits the title. The soloing on this is awesome. Awesome riffing in the album's last two tracks. Seems like Bucket put extra thought into this one. Lots of variety and I love the way it starts out mellow and then gets progressively heavier until it finishes with heavy riffing and some (Tasteful) shredding. And that's 2015. This year was a trip. Some of his absolute best albums mixed with some of his absolute worst and everything in between. The release schedule was insane and, frankly, too much. I guess it was his way of coping with the death of his parents, but still there's some really good stuff buried in the clutter. He also stepped up on the experimentation, which I appreciate. As for this set of Pikes, I expected it to be strong material after devoting a whole month to noise stuff. He mostly delivers. I assume a lot of this was music he worked on during October and saved for later. The post-Halloween set starts off extremely strong. Even though it takes a dip eventually, the weaker Pikes are still among his better work for 2015. In the home stretch!