Start a War

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Static-X's 2003 album Shadow Zone was a mess. Trying too blatantly to match wits with Korn and searching blindly for depth in electronics and processed drums, it tried desperately to expand on the sound of Machine and Wisconsin Death Trip, and that flawed ambition was its biggest problem. The early material was grating and one-dimensional, but it had a certain primal flair for the very same reasons -- songs were really an afterthought in the face of its blistering howl. Frontman Wayne Static seems to have figured that out with 2005's Start a War, and he's aided by the thick and hoary tone of original guitarist Koichi Fukada, who's rejoined the fold after the forced departure of Tripp Eisen. (This is also the band's first recording with former tour-only drummer Nick Oshiro.) From the beginning, War lights into a guttural guitar strut over refreshing live drumming and doesn't let up, masking Static's laughably atrocious lyrics (keywords: destroy, kill, hate, fall, terror, self-destruct) with an unrelenting roar. Imagine the sewage wind flowing though an abandoned subway line, or a thousand first-person shooters cranked to full volume, and that's the effect of "Enemy," "I'm the One," the screeching "Start a War," and "Dirthouse." The latter suffers from weird tattletale intonation in the vocal. However, its harsh snare reports are brilliant, and the billowing electronic throbs and sirens make it sound like White Zombie idling at a starting line. It's not a new sound, not anywhere near, and Start a War inevitably falters. It can't survive on a diet of enormous guitar tone alone. But at least Static-X is having fun making this stuff, and in its best moments the album is a raucous, hedonistic chortle, a crinkling PVC lark, an industrial thrash waste valve blaring deafening nothingness into the inky night sky.

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