"Cannibal", the fifth album from STATIC-X, is also the band's most reductive and minimalist effort to date. It's stripped down and more raw than anything the band has done before, with a more brittle, punk-like production instead of the usual dense wall of sound the band has created in the past (the band split with longtime producer Ulrich Wild here, enlisting John Travis to co-produce with frontman Wayne Static). Lyrics are reduced to one or two words per line — with exceptions here and there — and most of the songs' choruses merely repeat the title over and over again. Riffs are equally simple, with many of them based on one or two notes or chords repeated ad infinitum, and the whole 13-song affair is over in a scant 40 minutes.
In the end, "Cannibal" rocks pretty hard but is almost too simple. The songs are so repetitive that they hit one level and just stay there, with the entire album itself operating on that same level and never hitting any peaks or valleys. And with frontman Wayne Static back to screaming his head off on every song — a step back to the group's 1999 debut, "Wisconsin Death Trip" — there's very little to lure the listener in vocally.
It's a brave move in some ways to strip everything down to the core in a band, but it's risky one too — think of the reaction to METALLICA's "St. Anger", which had a similar purpose and vibe. STATIC-X has been around for years, somehow managed to make five albums on a major label with only one of them selling more than a million copies, and has as many detractors as they do fans. "Cannibal" is not an effort that's going to garner them many new listeners and it's certainly not gonna land them a hit single, so in many ways it's the band's most uncompromised recording yet.
The shame is that it's also ultimately a boring one. While there's something bracing and in your face about songs like the title track, "Behemoth", "Destroyer", "Electric Pulse" and the loopy circus march of "Reptile", they're simply too one-dimensional to have any real impact. For an album called "Cannibal", there's very little flesh to sink one's teeth into.