Review Summary: Apathy?
Both Anyone for Doomsday?
and Tonight The Stars Revolt!
were incredibly strong efforts. They blended dance-pop, swing, metal, industrial, alternative, and funk together in a cohesive, powerful way without coming off as schizophrenic. Powerman had a core sound, and even when they added something to it, it still sounded like Powerman. Transform
, on the other hand, doesn't quite
One of the greatest examples of this is definitely the performance of vocalist Spider One. With one of the more unique voices in the modern metal scene, it boggles the mind that he would need to imitate… but here, he goes after Rob Zombie, Brandon Boyd, and Marilyn Manson. Granted, this doesn't happen the entire album, but when it does happen, it's noticeable and annoying. The music doesn't entirely escape from this criticism either. Hit single "Free" is a terrible Foo Fighters clone and even the decent second single "Action" feels way too close to the Foos. It's unfortunate to hear the band sacked hard in the creativity department essentially until the fifth track of the album. Lyrically, this is pretty hit-or miss. Transform was crafted to criticize celebrity and consumer culture, and at times, this works. "A Is For Apathy" cleverly decries those who lay claim to a cause and then never actually act on said claim, "Song About Nuthin'"is a sardonic glimpse at modern pop song-writing, and "The Shape of Things To Come" is a haunting omen of an ending. When the straightforward approach works well, it's welcome… but sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, it's just preachy and overwhelmingly clichéd. One of the strengths of the previous albums was Powerman's ability to convey poignant statements ambiguously; by masking larger questions in the costume of science fiction, the group could speak without preaching. That strength is represented here, but perhaps not as much as it should've been.
Lyrical problems aside, there is still some very strong musicianship here. Yes, at times it isn't as inventive as before, but the band's penchants for hard riffs and genre bending make a forceful appearance. Gut-busting riffage and spacey lead work still drive the group's core sound very well (you could check any of the tracks except "Free" and parts of "Action" for this), and the funk, hip-hop, and pop influences make a proficient showing as well. "Stereotype" actually brings in a bit of an acoustic feel to the mix, where "The Shape Of Things To Come" feels a little bit more like 90s adult alternative. "That's Entertainment" pulls in a smooth female vocal appearance. It's cool to see the band take what they are great at and still progress, as three (official) albums in, they rock just as hard as before.
Its predecessor was darker than the album before it, and Transform
follows suit. It's a little bit less "fun" on the lyrical side, but as a whole, Powerman can handle a more serious take very well. While not as imaginative as we are used to from Powerman, this is still a worthy project.