California's Brian Carroll has spent virtually all of his time in the public eye with his face behind a mask and his head in a bucket -- which is an extremely effective way of letting the world know he'd rather play his guitar semi-anonymously than seek personal aggrandizement. Nevertheless, his skills have generated a cult-sized following for his slew of solo albums and turned him into a gun for hire with an appropriately bizarre list of credits. In addition to working on albums by the likes of artist Julian Schnabel and actor/dreamboat Viggo Mortensen, Carroll spent four long years slashing away for Guns N' Roses before severing ties with Axl Rose -- and if Rose was too weird for him, that's all the rest of us need to know. These days, Carroll is keeping company with System of a Down's Serj Tankian, who produced and co-stars in Enter the Chicken, a new disc on his Serjical Strike imprint. Predictably, Chicken is unpredictable, with nearly every track veering off into a new direction, be it mellow or metallic. But if the disc's inconsistent, it's also a fine showcase for one of music's most freakish talents. Thank goodness he hasn't kicked the bucket.


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