STATIC-X has as many detractors as they do fans, and one of the reasons may be that the band came around at the same time as most of the nu-metal groups — and even though STATIC is not nu-metal, they're somehow guilty by association in the minds of some. Another reason could be that the group's MINISTRY-meets-WHITE-ZOMBIE sound, filtered through an electronica sensibility, might have seemed derivative and one-dimensional, with frontman Wayne Static and his large hair cutting a goofy figure to boot.
The only one of those criticisms that really sticks is the charge of being one-dimensional, and you won't necesssarily find an impressive counter-argument to that on the group's fourth album, "Start A War". But nevertheless, STATIC-X rocks harder and with more fire on this disc than they have on their two previous albums, "Machine" and "Shadow Zone". Wayne Static has said in interviews that he wanted to get back to the vibe of the band's 1999 debut, "Wisconsin Death Trip", on this new record, and the band has mostly succeeded. There's an immediacy to "Start A War" that's bracing.
Part of that may have to do with the recording debut of drummer Nick Oshiro, who replaced Ken Jay on the "Shadow Zone" tour and who acquits himself well here, partially because the drums sound more natural and less programmed than ever before. There's a more live feel to this recording than STATIC has gotten before, and as a result the whole band hums along relentlessly and powerfully (we're not going to debate the case of ex-guitarist Tripp Eisen here — whatever he did or didn't do in his personal life has no bearing on whatever he may have contributed to this record).
Yes, the sound is not particularly original, but the songs are catchy as hell. "Enemy" and "I'm The One" produce memorable hooks amidst the electronic-metallic frenzy, while "Skinnyman" and "Just In Case" slow things down with more chugging riffs and less dense melody lines. The latter is also a lyrically amusing take on the fate of the guy who is always destined to be "just a friend" to a girl, or at least a friend with benefits. Even within STATIC's somewhat limited sound, they find room to experiment on the new wave-inspired "My Damnation" and trippy electronic freakout "Brainfog".
They're not gonna start a war or change the face of music, and they're probably not gonna change the minds of anyone who doesn't already like them, but STATIC-X mostly delivers the goods here.