Review Summary: A good point to call it quits.
Powerman 5000, or more precisely – the enduring frontman Spider One, can't blame anybody else for the steady dip the band's career has been since 2001. A follow-up to their rather successful Tonight The Stars Revolt!! waited for release, sporting songs that were sure to earn the band a couple of moments in the limelight, but then the album got scrapped out of thin air. The reasoning" It was supposedly too alike to its predecessor, and the singer felt a need for the band's approach to be ever-changing. Truth be told, in a world where AC/DC roams loose, having two records in a similar style grace your discography is far removed from a crime... regardless, Powerman 5000 efficiently threw away a great chance and a sturdy identity crisis ensued.
The next years were quite ugly to watch – in a semi-conscious attempt to finally shed the Rob Zombie comparisons, the band moved further and further away from the space metal they were so good at. 2003's Transform was a paradoxical anti-consumerism monument courtesy of one of the biggest labels in the world, and 2006's Destroy What You Enjoy ended up a failed attempt at reinventing the band as punk media bubble gum. Spider One was losing virtually everything possible – the band became a revolving door of members, and a growing percent of the fan base turned away... and, truth be told, the new endeavors didn't really bring any new supporters on board. You've got to admire the guy's vigilance when it comes to the band's ever-evolving sound, but it definitely was not working in his favor.
After a hefty amount of delay, another album dropped. However, this time it comes very close to an outright return to the fan-loved approach, twisted just enough to have Spider One feel that the band is still evolving and not going back to what worked, groveling for attention. Yet again, the Powerman 5000 on this disc has seldom little to do with the Powerman 5000 found on prior offerings – Spider One is the lone member the current line-up has in common with the Destroy What You Enjoy band, which in turn didn't feature any other survivors from the “classic” roster that started fracturing in 2001. And, truth be told, this is one of the more competent batches of musicians Spider One had a chance of working with – Velkro is the best guitarist PM5k ever had, and everybody else makes for a competent rhythm section. Forget stylistic development, as the group's goal is coming very close to nailing the riff approach of old. Right from the get-go you get the feeling of very cautious understudies executing the master's every command, leaving little to no room for their own approach or any genuine attempt at value. A ton of the potential this line-up had goes to waste right from the get-go.
The “new twist” is a firm, electronic bounce incorporated into the tunes. A somewhat fuzzier guitar tone coupled with more keyboard presence finally lets the techno metal “When Worlds Collide” hinted at break loose... and it doesn't make for an exhilarating listen. The overcautious approach to riffing isn't the lone factor to blame – the man behind the microphone is tired. Whereas 2006 found Spider One sounding like he was indirectly pulling a Joey “The Lips” Fagan on a youthful, garage-stranded punk band, here he doesn't really sound like anything at all. The lyrics are blander than ever, the delivery is very unconvincing and lacks energy. Perhaps Spider One is disillusioned with the somewhat inevitable return to the climate of old... whatever the reason – it's a sad day for a band when its lone defining member doesn't seem to be able to keep his heart in the game anymore.
In spite of the drawbacks, some songs on here are passable. “Show Me What You Got” is a decent way to kick off the album, with a set of genuine M.33/Adam 12 stylized riffs and an ounce of actual energy. “Super Villain” is the obvious single, successfully marrying the tried and true with the attempted innovation, and sporting the closest this record actually has to a hook. “Horror Show” has some potential, but the little dose of intricacy delivered by the riffs gets marred by the fact that Spider One hasn't rapped in a decade. Everything else is tolerable, not offering anything memorable, but no stinkers are in sight. Just a bunch of songs with the band keeping close to motions established before their time, and the singer losing heart.
This wouldn't be a bad time to call it a day actually. Powerman 5000's newest incarnation showed that they can still generate music akin to the band's glory days, and it would let the lone original member (who really does seem rather disengaged more often than not) walk away with his head held high, instead of cowering shamefully in front of whatever remaining fans had he decided to retire back in 2006. If the band does not break up quite yet, may their next foray not be too embarrassing – they already made one tragic turn back in the day, and Spider One deserves something for his endless quest to keep the band's sound evolving.