Static-X Shadow Zone
Grade
C+
 
Also Try
Pitchshifter
Prong

When they released Wisconsin Death Trip, Static-X charged onto the metal scene, heavy with techno/industrial influences in their hard thrashing metal. Frontman and hairstyle-challenged Wayne Static's vocals were raw and violent, a perfect balance to the musical hybrid that the band was not unlike Prong and Pitchshifter. Now, with their third album, Shadow Zone, Static-X is noticeably different, though the musical core still remains. Static-X's music is groove-oriented metal, now more straightforward than industrial/techno influenced as it was before.

I will say that the songwriting is pretty varied on this album. The opener, Destroy All is short but sweet, taking a heavy groove with a moderate pace and a pyric chorus of Wayne Static screaming "Destroy! Destroy all!" This leads into Control It with it's high pitched opener, warped bridges and a catchy chorus that seems to work just right. Track three, New Pain, feels MTV-friendly, and is sure to draw in new listeners, especially with its more palatable vocals. That in itself is where I think Shadow Zone differs from previous efforts - there is more focus on more friendly tracks to draw in new listeners.

This change is no more evident in the more lightweight efforts in The Only and So - both decent tracks on their own, but they seem to lack the same power and charge that previous Static-X efforts have provided. The album's final track, Invincible is similarly reserved, with some excellent harmonized vocals, but the core of the song is still less than impressive.

While there is a more radio/MTV-friendly presense to this album, there are some bitter and harsh tracks to be found. Monster is a fast pace riot with staccato drums and an intense pace. Otsegoletric has it's moments, especially later in the track. Kill Your Idols proves to be my favorite track on the album - it has a thick, brutal groove that just pounds away at you.

Wayne Static's vocals are pretty varied, ranging from a harsh screech (Kill Your Idols) to raspy (Control It) to well trained harmonies that lay well with the more laid back tunes (All In Wait, So). Lyrically, though, the album is nothing great. Most of the lyrics are pretty simple and have very little in the way of message behind them. On top of that, a lot of the lyrics are repeated ad naseum, I guess to cover up the lack of a deeper writing ability.

I'll be honest - this album reminds me a lot of when Pitchshifter shifted from a more obtuse techno-metal act to more radio/MTV-friendly. It's not that the music is technically worse, but that it lost a bit of the personality that made earlier albums so much more interesting to listen to. It's as if this album has been watered down for the sake of drawing in new listeners.

Shadow Zone isn't a bad album. It's just marginally different musically that previous Static-X efforts. If you haven't heard previous efforts by the act, you may find this album worth your time. Those who enjoyed the debut album will probably be disappointed in many of the lightweight and limp tracks that present themselves.

- - Vane

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