Review: Static X - Project Regeneration Vol. 1
Static-X have released the first installment of their tribute to their late frontman Wayne Static. Here's what I had to say about it!
The resurrection of Static-X has always been something that’s been a bit controversial. Tony Campos originally brought the band back from the dead to celebrate 20 years of their iconic debut album Wisconsin Death Trip, as well as to memorialise their late frontman Wayne Static both in terms of a global touring schedule and an album called Project Regeneration comprised of Wayne’s last recordings. There was a lot of backlash towards the whole idea of resurrecting Static-X at first. People felt like it could be a cash grab from Tony and the original band members and people were also somewhat unnerved by the mysterious new frontman Xer0 (whose identity is still unconfirmed but heavily rumoured to be Edsel Dope of the band Dope) and his dead skin mask of Wayne’s face. There’s also been the recent controversy surrounding how much Static-X’s disgraced former guitarist Tripp Eisen contributed to the songs off Project Regeneration (he argues that he contributed a lot whilst other band members have claimed otherwise) and the multiple delays to the project caused by the band finding more and more of Wayne’s demos. What was originally supposed to be one single album has now transformed into a two-part mega-album and Volume 1 has now finally been released into the world.
Was Project Regeneration Vol. 1 worth the wait? I’d honestly say that it was. It’s exactly the kind of album Static-X would have made if Wayne was still alive and the original Wisconsin Death Trip lineup had set aside their differences and reunited to make music once again. It’s a brilliant mix of the fast industrialism that made Wisconsin Death Trip so awesome and the more alt-metal stylings of Shadow Zone and Start A War (something that actually makes sense considering a couple of tracks on Vol. 1 were originally written during the Start A War era) and, although a fair amount of the music was re-written or heavily re-worked by the surviving band members, Wayne’s sheer talent still clearly shines through. Songs like Hollow, Terminator Oscillator and Otsego Placebo are brilliant throwbacks to the groundbreaking ‘Evil Disco’ style of the band’s first two albums. The grinding bass-led groove of All These Years and the alt-metal riffage of Bring You Down and Something of My Own brilliantly hold up the more mid-career sounding parts of the album, showing the more experimental side that Wayne took in his writing during the mid-00s. Closing track Dead Souls is a rare Static-X ballad and it’s an absolutely fantastic one at that too!
I’ll be honest, it is odd at first hearing the vocals of a dead man throughout the album. It’s especially odd considering that quite a few of those vocal performances may have been recorded during a point where he was completely at odds with his former partner-in-crime Tony Campos. Those vocals, however, are absolutely incredible. Ostego Placebo might very well be one of the greatest vocal performances Wayne ever did, the chorus melody of Worth Dyin For is absolutely sublime and Dead Souls shows a much more emotive side to Wayne that he didn’t show that much elsewhere in his career that on reflection he really should have explored more of. It’s worth giving a small mention to Al Jourgensen of Ministry’s guest vocal spot in Dead Souls too; whilst Al isn’t world-renowned for being a vocalist, the particular part he was given in this song surprisingly suits his abilities really well! Whilst Wayne never really rated himself as a vocalist compared to his singing heroes like Steve Perry of Journey, he had a screamy-singy style that was entirely his own and one which probably still inspires a lot of people to this day.
The production of Project Regeneration Vol. 1 is absolutely fantastic too. With the original Wisconsin Death Trip lineup back in full force, we get the full electronic goodness that Koichi Fukuda is capable of. The modernized versions of the acid house-style synth work that Koichi was so good at on Wisconsin Death Trip are absolutely fantastic to hear peppered throughout the album. The guitar and bass tones are absolutely crushing too, probably helped no end due to the production assistance from Xer0 if the rumours about him being Edsel Dope are correct. The inclusion of Ulrich Wild, the producer of Wisconsin Death Trip, in the mixing process is no doubt a massive factor as to why the record sounds so massive as well.
Project Regeneration may have been an overly long wait and there may still be another 50% of Wayne’s final demos still to go, but I’m still incredibly excited to see where this whole experiment is going. The only real negative thing about this album is that it, unfortunately, isn’t a full reunion with a still-alive Wayne Static. In that way it’s bittersweet and it’s a somewhat painful reminder of the incredible potential Wayne had that never fully manifested.
A brilliant, yet bittersweet album