In the caffeinated meat grinder that passes for popular culture these days, it may already be time for some 1990's nostalgia. Supermodels aren't wearing ironic updates of flannel yet, but bands like CRACKER, GIN BLOSSOMS and SPIN DOCTORS are already taking their amiably bland acts out on the rib-fest circuit. Can Kurt Cobain impersonators and "Reality Bites: The Musical" be far behind?
The one thing no one was clamoring for was a revisit to the industrialized hard rock of bands like GRAVITY KILLS and STABBING WESTWARD. Remember this stuff? Brooding, edgy frontmen with a hint of sardonic decadence glossed up in quick-cut, high-contrast videos, dressing up basic three-minute radio rock songs with a patina of electronics to give the whole thing some kind of dark, faux-dangerous club-hopping edge for kids too chickenshit to dig into SKINNY PUPPY or BILE? MARILYN MANSON and (arguably) FILTER took the style furthest, traveling a road littered with the hapless corpses of cutout-bin failures (nice knowing you, GOD LIVES UNDERWATER and CROSSBREED), but the whole thing sorta imploded somewhere around the time Fred Durst became a household name. Ten years later, a DINK CD won't even get you the scratch for a cup of coffee at the used CD store.
Well, someone in DEADSTAR ASSEMBLY must have hit the garage sale of one of those 90's bands, and gotten a helluva deal on used gear (no word on if they went down the street to Twiggy Ramirez's to pick up all that hair dye and makeup). Dated and cheesy synths mix with generic hard rock guitar crunch, phony-sounding drums and big dancey beats, all topped with the kind of plastic goth-boy vocal swagger that makes Wednesday 13 sound like William F. Buckley.
"Unsaved" isn't all bad, really — there are isolated moments of surprising heaviness, and the whole thing is put together in a fun, disposable manner. Put it this way — DEADSTAR ASSEMBLY would be the perfect "house band" for the scene in a TV crime show where the grizzled old cop has to walk through some laughable Hollywood version of a "Goth club" to find a suspect. "Unsaved" name-checks all of the above-mentioned bands, throws in a little latter-era PRONG (we're talking directionless lost-their-way "Rude Awakening" era here, not the good stuff), and aspires to the lofty heights of NINE INCH NAILS and ROB ZOMBIE while lacking the charisma of either.
There's just not much else to say about DEADSTAR ASSEMBLY. They'll probably be marketed as a poor man's H.I.M., but their recycled ideas and image come straight out of 1995, bad ballads, misuse of capital letters and all. If vaguely sinister keyboard rock played by Manic Panic-dyed Manson rejects with names like dreGGs and mubo is your cup of tea, then have at it. Greasy kids' stuff for behind-the-curve teen rebels.