The Rickety Old Shack

Static-X — Start A War

album cover

Following the group's dabbling in a more commercially oriented sound on their past record, Shadow Zone (review), Static-X underwent another line-up shuffle prior to releasing their fourth full-length album, Start A War. The first change was recruiting Seether drummer Nick Oshiro to replace Ken Jay. While Oshiro was credited as the drummer on Shadow Zone, it was actually Josh Freese (of A Perfect Circle and The Vandals) who recorded the drum parts for that album. Additionally, guitarist Tripp Eisen was dismissed from the band after his arrest for soliciting sex from a minor, although he did participate in the song writing sessions for the album. Replacing Eisein was the returning Koichi Fukuda, who left after the recording of the group's second album, Machine (review).

Start A War opens with a hard-hitting number in "The Enemy," setting the tone for the rest of the album and letting established fans know that the vintage Static-X sound is back. On Shadow Zone, the band opted for more alt-rock compositions, eschewing the chugging, rhythm-centric style of past efforts; here, Static-X sound very much like their former selves, and the material is more uptempo again. The clean vocals are still prevalent, although the Layne Staley-esque (Alice In Chains) processing is gone, and a double-tracked, lightly processed Wayne Static adds some nuance to tracks like "Night Terrors" and "Skinnyman," in addition to varying his screamed vocals.

I cannot remember exactly why, but when Start A War was released — and in the nearly decade-and-a-half that followed — I didn't give the record much thought. I bought it, listened to it a few times, and then I got distracted with graduating college and moving out of my parents' house. Until I decided to take a trip down memory lane, and haul the Static-X discography out of the archives, I had listened to "Dirthouse" an incalculable number of times, but never found myself listening to the album as a whole. I tended to go for Machine when I did want to hear the band. Now, looking back on Start A War, I can say that I really underrated it.

As much as I liked Shadow Zone, in hindsight I think Start A War is a superior record in almost every respect. The former is still a strong collection of material, but the combination of Wayne Static's gallopping rhythm guitar style and the more melodic material puts this album over the top. While Static-X had never strayed too far from their core sound, they have always refined and improved their fusion of riff-heavy metal and industrial electronica elements. Start A War continues this process and even sees the band include a solo on the track "Pieces," a first for the group.

From cover-to-cover, Start A War is an excellent album, and another quality installment in the Static-X discography. There's nothing that I would classify as a track worth skipping, the whole album is 48 minutes of incredibly catchy material that blends crushing heaviness and beautiful melody in just the right amounts. A hidden gem in the catalog of a band best known for their debut album, Wisconsin Death Trip (review) but who had yet to release anything remotely substandard afterward.

Summary

Never quite fitting into the nu metal category, Static-X correct course after attempts — at the behest of their record label — to embrace more radio-friendly elements in their sound with on Shadow Zone. This album still sees the band indulge in more clean singing and melodic passages, however the thick, cruchy, chugging riffs and aggression the band was known for are definitely all back at the forefront. It's not like they "sold out," but Start A War is like a traditional Static-X record with the inclusion of band's improved use of melody and clean singing enhancing the overall sound. Another solid collection of bangers, this album is absolutely worth a look; like the rest of the band's material, Start A War aged very well.

Album Information

Release date: June 14th, 2005
Record label: Warner Brothers Records

Wayne Static — lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, production
Tripp Eisen — lead guitar
Tony Campos — bass, backing vocals, production
Nick Oshiro — drums
Koichi Fukuda — programming, lead guitar

Track Listing

  1. The Enemy
  2. I'm The One
  3. Start A War
  4. Pieces
  5. Dirthouse
  6. Skinnyman
  7. Just In Case
  8. Set It Off
  9. I Want To Fucking Break It
  10. Night Terrors
  11. Otsego Amigo
  12. My Damnation
  13. Brainfog

—by Derek

Published: May 1st, 2019.