Static-X — Project Regeneration, Volume 1
(Editor's Note: presently there is some sort of dispute between Tripp Eisen and the Static-X camp, and songwriting credits on this album. You can read his statement here. Unless something changes, I will go by the credits listed on the album's Spotify page.)
Following the death of Wayne Static, in November of 2014, it seemed as though any hopes for new Static-X material were permanently dashed. The band's 2009 album, Cult Of Static (review) would stand as their final offering, 10 years after their incredibly successful debut album Wisconsin Death Trip (review). It wasn't until the 20th anniversary of the aforementioned 1999 debut record approached that news broke of both a reunion tour and a new studio album featuring Wayne Static.
The premise of the album, which expanded into a two-part effort, was titled Project Regeneration and features a blend of demo material, voice recordings salvaged from tapes used to provide backing tracks for live performances, and new compositions. There has been an ongoing war of words, between Static-X and former guitarist Tripp Eisen, who was dismissed from the band in 2005 after being convicted of sex crimes against minors. Eisen did not collaborate with the band on any of the new material, however he is credited with music and song writing on 3 tracks — none of his performances were used.
In the place of Wayne Static is the "enigmatic" new frontman, who goes by the name 'Xer0.' Any similarities in appearance, stature or vocal tonality to Edsel Dope is coincidental and should be ignored, as should any performance credits! This mysterious, masked individual — whoever they might be — does a very good job blending in with the recordings of Static's voice. There are only a couple of tracks that are obviously a different singer, without any contributions from the deceased frontman, and Xer0's tone is close enough to the abrasive rasp Static routinely employed. "Worth Dyin' For" is one of my favourite tracks on Project Regeneration, even if it is basically a remake of "Bled For Days" mixed with "Kill Your Idols." I don't mind this — the song is a real headbanger — but it's incredibly obvious to anyone familiar with the band's past work.
There are no guitar performance credits for Wayne Static on Project Regeneration, Volume 1, which surprised me. The playing and engineering perfectly recreates the unique feel that his rhythm playing gave Static-X songs. It's impressive how well everything sounds like a classic Static-X record, updated for modern sensibilities. The sense of groove remains intact and the band's sound profile is retained completely. Even if you wanted to assume the most cynical motivations behind this project, the quality of the work and the attention to detail is strong counterargument. The album is rich and full in sound, weaving loops and keyboards in with sick grooves and huge, chunky guitars. Even with all the electronic elements, the material retains a human energy — a bounce that is atypical of music that is written and recorded against on a grid.
The strongest cuts on Project Regeneration are, ironically, the ones that credit Eisein: "Hollow," "Bring You Down" and "Something Of My Own." From what I understand, these were demos cut between Shadow Zone (review) and Start A War (review) and have been re-worked with re-recorded and modified instrumentals. They are by far the most complete and developed songs on the record to feature robust performances from Wayne. The placing of these tracks helps maintain the illusion of Wayne's presence throughout the album, it's very masterfully done and I think I see why Static-X felt it necessary to use Eisein's work.
Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, Project Regeneration, Volume 1 is a homerun as far as I'm concerned. It manages to provide a hearty dose of everything a Static-X could ask for in a new album. Posthumous releases have always been viewed with a lot of skepticism, but this effort seem genuine and sincere. The attention to detail and amount of labour that went into making this record is evident in the quality of the end result. As a fan of the band since I downloaded a low quality MP3 of "Push It" in the summer of 1999, this album overshot even my highest expectations.
This is more than simply a throwback album; Project Regeneration, Volume 1 services long-time fans of Static-X while also delivering an industrial metal record that feels relevant in 2020. I remain skeptical of what a second volume could possibly entail, but this initial offering was an excellent way to remember the deceased Wayne Static.
Far more than just a "lost tapes" album, Project Regeneration, Volume 1 sees the original Static-X reunited, issuing 11 new tracks built out of salvaged demos and sundry recordings. For 39 minutes and change, Evil Disco is back. This project is a masterful homage / memorial in addition to a solid album I'd be happy to have under any circumstances. Posthumous releases are always dubious, but this one delivers the goods.
Release date: July 10th, 2020
Record label: Otsego Entertainment Group
Wayne Static — programming, lead vocals (tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12)
Koichi Fukuda — guitar, keyboards, programming
Tony Campos — bass, backing vocals
Ken Jay — drums
Edsel Dope — guitar, lead vocals (tracks 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11)
Al Jourgensen — additional vocals (track 12)
Nikk Dibbs — additional programming (tracks 5, 6, 11, 12)
Tommy Shaffner — additional programming (tracks 1, 10)
- Hollow (Project Regeneration)
- Worth Dyin' For
- Terminator Oscillator
- All These Years
- Bring You Down (Project Regeneration)
- My Destruction
- Something Of My Own (Project Regeneration)
- Ostego Placebo
- Dead Souls
Published: July 29th, 2020.