Friday, September 30, 2011

FDF Volume 3 Issue 242 Static-X Wisconsin Death Trip

By: March

Album – Wisconsin Death Trip
Artist – Static - X
Key Players - Koichi Fukuda – guitars, keyboards, programming. Tony Campos – bass, backing vocals. Ken Jay – drums. Wayne Static – Lead vocals, guitars, programming.
Produced By - Ulrich Wild and Static-X

Release Date – March 23, 1999

What caused me to blow off the dust? Lead singer of the band (Wayne Static) released a solo album recently. I haven't heard it, but it got me thinking about the band, and it has/had been a while for sure.

Overview – This is the debut album from Los Angeles band Static-X. The band would blend nu metal (popular at the time) with industrial and alternative rock. (The band likes to call their music “evil disco”) Formed in 1994 the album would go platinum, but it would never break the top 100 on the Billboard charts (It would chart higher on others, such as “Heatseekers”, where it would go to #1). There would three singles released form the record, but none would crack the top 20. They'd continue to release albums and tour until 2009 when they'd go on hiatus.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - “Push It” is the first track on the 16 song album. It was also the first single released to radio. The guitars bass and drums all come up with big riffs before it gets the buzzing start/stop feel. Static has a gravel voice and gets help with some yelps and screams. The track is heavy with a very heavy industrial feel. The wall of guitar is at the front of the mix with the bass and drums rumbling under. Fukuda tosses in a few samples about the two minute mark, but the band is quick to keep the buzzy swirl on going. The album has the same feel of intensity and “I'm with Stupid” is no less intense. There are a bit more keyboards and samples than the lead off track and the band uses the stops in music for the samples. Static is a little more rapid on his vocals during the verses and will reach down for some heavy growls. Campos and Jay work well together keeping the tempo in check. Fukuda gets a short keyboard run and then everyone drops out excluding the vocals and Jay on the drums before it all comes back for one more run of the chorus. The second single from the album “Bled for Days” follows. The keyboard stutters before the grind of the bass and guitars start. Its loops on the same big riff and Static begins the vocals. The vocals are chanted almost and they band seems okay with the samples filling the gaps. Leading to the chorus the sound gets very big and intense. Static sings even quicker and the backing vocals are slightly subdued but stand on their own during the barrage of sound. The term “evil disco” fits. A female voice is used in the sample that starts with “Love Dump”. Jay clangs the drums then switches to the bass drum and the guitar riff begins to play a similar pattern. It seems to take ages, but the band finally comes in and the song rumbles forward. Static has a limited vocal range and on this track he seems to be going up in range from prior tracks. When you sing a line “your ass smells like a rose” I guess you don't want sappy sounding vocals. The blend of industrial and hard rock works well. Easy to cite the Ministry influence through out. The guitars are phased speaker to speaker on “I Am” a track that seems to find Jay hitting the drums even harder, if that is even possible. Campos offers quick bass chords before Static starts to sing. The backing vocals are largely limited to background screams as Fukuda will change between guitars and samples. “Otsegolation” has the heaviest keyboard/sample intro to this point on the record. Jay, and Campos work to fit in and then the guitar cuts across like a sceeching wheel. The song as a slight “tin” sound to it, but the band has found a bottom heavy vibe only offset by those screetching guitar chops. Birds chirp in the sample as “Stem” begins. The intro continues to be a low key, slow building track with Fukuda light on the keyboard. Static gives a yell and the band comes in. It is heavy, but has a little more bounce to it. It has a little bit of a funk groove to it with the swooping calm bass line but the guitars on overdrive toss that theory out the window. The track fades right over to “Sweat of the Bud” which sounds like a plane taking off before Campos and Static fire the sound off one another. Campos sounds like a caged animal trying to get out. His tempo seems to excite the band and the guitars and bass seem to have all that more crunch. Static gets some vocal treatment so as he shouts “GO” it has a bubbled sound that is a hybrid of evil/alien. Fukuda tosses a keyboard sample that seems to send the track in a different direction, but that is short lived and the wall of guitar, bass and drums takes it back over. Fukuda opens with a repeated few notes and then “Fix” takes off. Static is right up on the vocals with no delay. Static again is quick and almost changing his parts. Campos seems to get a good punch out of his bass at times and the guitar is as heavy as always. “Wisconsin Death Trip” has the choppy guitars and Fukuda drops in a chirping sample giving it a funny feel, but it makes the guitar bass and drums seem all the more brutal when they come in. Atmospheric keyboards start of “The Trance Is The Motion”. It is just the keyboards/samples before electronic hand claps and then Campos is the first one heard. Slow plodding bass line for a few bars and then Jay gets on the ride cymbals before the single long droning guitar parts start. We haven't broken any new ground, but the change of pace musically seems a little refreshing. The album concludes with the longest track in “December”. The atmospheric keyboards are again the norm and spread out before the vocals start. There are no buzzing guitars, just a hushed vocal track. The song doesn't feel that long and ends suddenly.

Where are they now? - The band is currently on hiatus. In 2009 Wayne Static reported he'd be focusing on his side project “Pighammer” and his debut will be out on October 4th, 2011. Tony Campos joined Ministry for a tour in 2007 during some band downtime, he is listed as a former member but the “current” band does not list a full time bass player. Ken Jay left the band around 2001. Fukuda is a member of the band Drugstore Fanatics.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I saw the band two times. The first was as a headliner on May 7, 2000 at Lupos in Providence. I don't recall a ton of the show, and I don't have a list of the support acts which sometimes help me remember more. The second time was part of Ozzfest. July 30, 2000 at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA. Again, I don't recall them as being a main stage or side stage band. I think they were main stage, but I am not 100% sure.

FDF Overall Take – If you like industrial/metal music you'll like it. It hasn't aged the best and feels sorta the same for the duration, but it is what it is. Some songs resonate better than others. The record is a good into to the band, and as noted, if you like the genre you'll dig.


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