posted on 4/2007 By:
Out come the wallet chains and up goes the hair–it’s the new album from Static-X. Cannibal, the band’s fifth effort (every one of them on a major label), was touted as being heavier than the band’s recent output, and if nothing else, at least on that count the band delivers. Their PR firm would have you believe that with Cannibal "Static-X moves into the ranks of metal’s stalwarts, hard-working bands like Megadeth and Slayer". Mr. Static himself compares making this album to creating their platinum selling 1999 debut, Wisconsin Death Trip, also saying that the album "feels very old-school for us". Old as in 1999, I guess. Still, there’s a pleasant absence of embarrassing, emotive nu-metal power balladry, and few blatant plays for the FM market, although this is still total Headbangers Ball/satellite radio, commerce friendly metal. There’s plenty of what you’d expect–bouncy, jumpdafuckup riffing, squealing guitar leads, monotonous staccato barked vocals, and electronics-by-numbers. So rather than pop-flavored industrialized nu metal, you get moderately heavy industrialized nu metal. Just not good metal.
The problem here is that while Cannibal takes both a heavier but still melodic tack, it simply doesn’t do either thing well. There are few truly effective hooks, and the aggressiveness comes across as sheep-in-wolf’s-clothing window dressing. Boil these songs down and you’ve got third rate Ministry concepts channeled through the aggressive and melodic nu metal constructs of Slipknot and Korn, respectively. Static-X demonstrate an innate ability to mix genre elements in a manner that somehow gets less from each, as they all end up coming across as watered down compromises or ill-fitting bedmates. When you really want them to hammer out serious industrial aggression, sub par melody and nu metal intercede, and when you want them to just get heavy, they’re hamstrung by electronic accompaniment and melody. It really is an intriguing display of ham-handed labwork that leads to a one step forward one step back kind of listening experience. Cannibal is littered with these teenage bra strap fumblings, one of the most blatant being the intro of "Chemical Logic" which starts with a speedy, Kill ‘Em All knock off riff and adds robotic vocals.
At its best Cannibal delivers rather dull but generally passable industrial-fueled songs like the title track, "No Submission" and "Behemoth", all of which are found at the beginning of the album. After the wheels come off with the aforementioned cringe-worthy "Chemical Logic", the rest of the album either grates mightily (probably as much a cumulative effect as a degradation in quality) or fades into uninspired nu metal by numbers, culminating with the virtually unlistenable "Team Hate". It would help if the band didn’t insist on two-chords-and-a-sneer riffing. To top it off, the album should sound much heavier than it does. The production isn’t bad, but is not nearly as robust and punishing as it should be, given their major label production and what this style needs.
Recommended for the neighborhood kid that mows your lawn.
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