I’ve always felt that if mediocrity was a summer blockbuster, Static-X would be on the soundtrack. I must admit, they managed to pique my interest at their debut, but fortunately my Wisconsin Death Trip ended shortly after sophomore year of high school. At any rate, it had been many years since I seriously listened to the band, so I went into this with every intention of critiquing their latest effort, Cult of Static, objectively.
Right from the onset, it became clear that the fears I was trying to suppress were mostly founded. Proving to be an entirely horrible opening track, “Lunatic” suffers from a little too much repetition. It’s not that I dislike simplicity, but the riff-age lacks any pulse at all. Couple this with a tempo that varies about as much as the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion, and you have all the makings of a track that should have been deleted. It does boast two authentic Dave Mustaine guitar solos, but these are the only 46 seconds of the song that are remotely listen-able and definitely would have found better use elsewhere. With that said, I found the majority of the remaining album to be much the same, with a few noteworthy exceptions.
The production quality is pretty good, which is to be expected for a release on Reprise. The major selling point here is the drum work. Nick Oshiro effectively carries the band across the finish line with some pretty solid beats. I found that most of the time I caught myself bobbing my head was because of his playing, but in a way it’s like the drums on this album are an average-looking girl surrounded by a horde of her ugly friends. Cult of Static attempts some pretty heavy stuff at times, but rarely pulls it off. All but 3 of the guitar solos are complete garbage, and only one of those was played by an actual member of the band. That’s not to say that the songwriting is devoid of any talent, as tracks like “Isolaytor” and “Stingwray” prove to be much better than they are spelled and show that there are definitely more than a few catchy measures. The problem is that the songs themselves have trouble holding your attention for their entirety because of the disproportionate ratio of potatoes to meat in the serving. The one exception to this is “You Am I”, which manages to get everything right and show the true potential of Static-X’s sound. I will shamefully admit that it may end up on a guilty pleasure mix tape in the future. It’s unfortunate it doesn’t have any hot friends.
A major deal breaker for me is the vocals. I have trouble with Wayne Static’s voice in the respect that most of the time it’s not quite singing, not quite screaming, but sort of like the howls of a really angry awkward-voiced guy with a throat full of phlegm. Some people may dig it, but I can’t count myself as one of them. His lyrics, however, lean to the better side of middle-of-the-road and successfully get the job done. Not bad for a guy who looks like he could be the spokesperson for Slim Jim.
I feel that I can safely say that fans of airwave-friendly industrial rock and those of you still rocking it to nu metal might eat this one up, and you should probably pay the price of admission. There’s certainly a lot worse out there. Everyone else will likely want to stay as far away as possible, as there is hardly anything here for you.
07. You Am I
11. Grind 2 Halt