Static-X

Shadow Zone

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Static-X's Shadow Zone is a numbingly vacuous, no-dimensional dud that seems to have arrived via wormhole from 1998. In songs like "Kill Your Idols," "Destroy All," and "Monster," Wayne Static -- who's never sounded more like Korn's Jonathan Davis -- yells nonsense like "My head's a loaded gun" and "Breathing, killing, seething, willing" over thudding, one-note thrash busied up with dated electronic fuzz. Producer Josh Abraham (Orgy, Crazy Town) flattens the material to a harsh hiss, reducing the drumming to a vague click behind an impenetrable wall of guitars, and eventually it all just sounds like, yes, static. By mid-album, "The Only"'s foray into Stabbing Westward-style electro-industrial provides depth simply by being derivative in a different way. (Even here, Static's vocal resemblance to Davis is stunning.) Reliance on formula has always been admissible in metal, but it's Static-X's apparent refusal to try anything new or remotely original that makes Shadow Zone such a disappointment. Predictably, the album ends clumsily. "So" and "Invincible" debut some sort of double-track effect on Static's voice, which makes him sound like Layne Staley instead of Davis. Along with the interlude "Transmission," which probably seemed a lot scarier in the studio, the two tracks are a final indictor of Static-X's quickly advancing irrelevance. Shadow Zone's impossibly generic cover art only makes it more indistinguishable.

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