Review Summary: A new wave of hot-garbage is heading to a speaker near you.
For some people, change is not an option; the very thought of something/someone progressing and evolving is a terrifying prospect to them. This is a capitalising opportunity for certain bands and, for the guilty culprits that utilise this fear, will spend their entire career repeating their tried-and-tested formula album after album. Of course, a band like Powerman 5000 was never going to set a new standard for industrial rock music, and at this point seems evident they’re fixated on playing into their own comfort zones for the foreseeable future. The irony of this is Spider One’s brother, Rob Zombie, who has been lit up a few times in recent years for going the other way with his artistic ventures. The thing is, I fully respect Rob’s risk taking in recent albums; sometimes it’s worked, other times it hasn’t, but the key is that he’s pushing himself to try new things in the confines of his own aesthetic. Powerman 5000 is a band that has been draining the resources from its own framework from inception – a sound which was never particularly standout and unique to begin with, and one that now looks like a withered, anaemic corpse.
Though I have always preferred Rob Zombies career to that of Spider's, I have enjoyed Powerman’s albums in a disposable fashion. Earlier works in particular were solid slabs of industrial rock that brought a frantic and energetic production to the band’s playful lyrics and fun riffing. But as the years have gone by, the band’s output has gradually lost little pieces of what made them great, one album at a time. Now, it looks as though the band has reached the end of the road. Imagine a Powerman 5000 record without any of the appealing features listed: a flaccid, soulless collection of tracks that contain some of this year’s worst lyrics; flat energy; zero excitement; and some dire vocal takes. Adding insult to injury, any of the contemporary musical tropes to be ham-fistedly integrated into tracks here not only fall completely flat, but highlight just how dated and knackered this sound is. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend most of this album in the palm of my hands wishing for the embarrassment to end. From the moment “Footstep and Voices” kicked in to when “Run for Your Life” ended, New Wave
tested my patience on every level. At best you’ll hear glimmers of tolerability: “No White Flags” is a slow, stripped back number that manages to rein in on the terrible gimmicks, as well as bring one of the few moments where Spider’s vocals focus themselves and offer a hook and decent melody; while “Thank God” is the shortest track here and ironically the best song by a country mile, for its neck-breaking tempo, frantic riffing and harsh vocal work which hears our singer at his best for 1 minute and 10 seconds.
The rest of New Wave
is just one failure after the next. Constant clichés and plagiarisms ensure the punishing nature of this LP: “Footsteps and Voices” and “Hostage” sound like B-sides stolen from Sixx: AM’s archives, mixed with a talk-style of singing and some horrific rapping akin to the stuff found on Prophets of Rage’s new album; the two elements are both extremely jarring and make for a tonal car crash. But the finishing blow to this album really goes to “David ***ing Bowie”, a track that has obviously been made to respect his memory, but I would imagine it to ultimately insult him if he were alive to hear it. I can hardly get my bearings around where this thing goes wrong: the godawful, repetitive lyrics that just repeat: “Let’s dance like we’re David ***ing Bowie”
and “David Bowie, David ***ing Bowie!”
; the gobsmacking “Starman” rip-off interlude section; or the fleeting impression I get they’re taking the piss out of Bowie than giving him a send-off. The track borders on offensive, and I can’t comprehend what the band’s actual intention was. However, it’s important to mention, given just how terrible this song sounded, the body of the piece is a mainstay for this album’s sound, where you’ll hear a style Billy Idol built his career on: the palm-muted guitar chugs and quiet vocal dynamic, this leaves wide-open room for you to hear Spider’s diabolical lyrics in all their cringe-inducing glory, and only enhances the insufferable nature of this LP.
As we approach the end of the year, it’s going to be a fair assumption this will reach high on the crap pile list. There is nothing redeemable to be found here. There is no high-octane energy; and certainly, no enjoyment to be had. All that’s left is a hollow shell of a band that isn’t fun anymore, or smart enough to push themselves onto newer and better things, and you’ll be doing yourself a favour in dodging this like a bullet to the head.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A