Sound — 7
With their trademark sampling and keyboards in tow, Static-X has returned to the industrial rock scene with its latest record Cannibal. While most of the songs remain true to sound you've come to expect from frontman and primary songwriter Wayne Static, it's the return of original guitarist Koichi Fukuda that really adds life to the new CD. There has been talk that Cannibal is a back-to-basics approach, and in many ways it does have a stripped-down sound with a bit less of an electronica feel. While that does give Static-X a bit more of an edgy sound, there are times when the songs feel a bit repetitive due to the same chords being played over and over again. The songs No Submission Chromatic set the perfect tone for the record, simply by the fact that the band colors the verses up a bit, breaking the monotony of the same repeating guitar chord. There is a subtle, computer-like keyboard part that pops in about halfway through the verse, making it the most interesting part of the song. There is nothing wrong with just a guitar-driven chorus, but Static-X does seem to get fixated on some chords. If the band can steer away from stepping in this hole and change the music up just a bit through layering tracks or trying out some unusual chords, it might be a bit more effective. The best moments actually come when guitarist Fukuda steps into to shred. The solos that Fukuda creates feel in some ways like the polar opposite of Wayne Static's approach to songwriting, and it's a perfect contrast of styles. Fukuda makes the most of every solo, combining an emotional quality with his technical ability. Static-X's fans don't have to worry about a huge change to the core of the band's sound, either. Ninety percent of the song is absolutely Wayne's creation, and Fukuda's songwriting input (the solo work) simply adds a little life for the remaining duration of the songs. The dedicated fans of Static-X should find Cannibal a satisfying return to the scene, particularly in the wake of multiple lineup changes of the years. The apparent back-to-basics sound isn't so dramatic that will scare those fans away either. If the band can explore the possibility of adding more subtle lead guitar additions over the choruses and verses (the finale Team Hate does a fantastic job of this), then it's likely they can progress even more as songwriters in the future.
Lyrics — 7
Much like the quick-punch vocal delivery from Static, the lyrics have the same short and sweet feel. The majority of songs on Cannibal contain lines that have 1, maybe 2 words in them. This style definitely is a perfect fit for the music underneath the songs, although at times the lyrics can be a tad predictable. The best example comes in Behemoth, where most of the lyrical lines are almost like stream of consciousness ideas that pop into Static's head. He sings, Blocking; Cocking; Smoking; Choking; Get louder; Get higher; Get true to form -- Behemoth. They definitely have a testosterone-fueled energy to them, which will probably appeal to some listeners out there. There is a simplicity about the lyrics that translates well in terms of how it sounds in the songs, but it doesn't really cover any new territory. In Forty Ways, it does have some common themes spread throughout. Static sings, Drink all day; f--k all day; Crush all day; Grind away. Although we've heard these lines in one form or another before, Static-X's songs do have an aggressive quality that makes the lyrics more forgivable.
Overall Impression — 7
Static-X definitely has a sound of its own and that in itself is a fantastic thing in metal. There are plenty of bands that shy away from sampling of any kind, so hearing a band still rock hard with the addition of some added Akai effects is a nice change of pace. Although it seems there isn't quite as much sampling this time around, the moments when you hear a grooving sampled hook underneath a verse it just gives the song a bit more identity. Without question, guitarist Fukuda is responsible for the most memorable moments on Cannibal. While there are some great songwriting ideas that Wayne Static brought to the table (particularly on No Submission), Fukuda leads the songs in a wild, spontaneous direction that easily steals the show. It's understandable if Static doesn't want to adorn the music he's created too much because the band has become recognizable for its trademark industrial sound, but he also shouldn't fear taking a risk here and there. With Fukuda injecting his technical prowess in the band, it will be exciting to hear what Static-X will come up with in future records.