Wayne Static – Pighammer (2011)

Posted: September 27, 2011 in Music

If the name didn’t get you, the album cover should. Wayne Static – hairstyle and all – is the leading force behind industrial metal overlords Static-X. As pioneers of the self-dubbed “evil disco,” the band has a storied career of six studio albums, tons of concert and festival appearances, and a reputation as one of the loudest bands on the planet. After great chart success in 2009 with their album Cult Of Static, the band did something quite interesting…

They hung it up.

Now whether or not the band is ‘broken up’ or merely on ‘hiatus’ is a matter of opinion (no official statement has come from the X camp), but the writing is on the wall. Static claimed the band was taking a break after the last release, but his fellow band mates didn’t appear willing to sit around and wait. in 2010, guitarist Koichi Fukuda joined the industrial metal/ambient band Drugstore Fanatics, and bassist Tony Campos outright left the band, joining Soulfly.

Static, without batting an eye, went to work on his first solo album. The album – titled Pighammer – lends itself to a bit of confusion, though. It was thought that Wayne was titling the ‘project’ Pighammer (as confirmed by a Facebook ‘Band Page’), but apparently he opted to keep the glory all to himself this time around, and will instead be releasing the disc under his own name. Sordid details aside, we were curious as to what we were going to get here. Would it be more ‘evil disco,’ or was Static going to turn the tables and give us something completely different? The answers to all that and more will be revealed as we dive right in…

The short, self-titled intro is a spooky take on the childhood’s ‘This Little Piggy Went To Market’ – complete with haunting, echoed vocals and heart monitor beeps. The problem is it doesn’t really ‘lead-in’ to anything. It mentions the title of the next song – “Around The Turn” – but doesn’t come close to matching it musically. The ‘creepy’ vibe is whisked away in favor of a ‘military-march’ one highlighted by Static’s vocals, and not much else. Industrial music can get a little simple at times, and this is one of them.

The album’s first single, “Assassins Of Youth” is a little more ‘recognizable’, as it easily could have placed on any Static-X album. The song title, which is a old-school reference to drug use, tells the tale of exactly that. It’s a little more ‘electro,’ and stands out well as one of the albums finer moments.

But not the finest. “Thunder Invader” is the type of track I expected this whole album to be – full-throttle guitars, crunchy riffs, electroclash drums, and Static’s unmistakable growl. The energy is very good here – and Wayne does a great job carrying us through the highs and lows. Lots of tracking and mixing add to the heavy industrial sound, and you’d be remiss to let this song sneak past you.

“Static Killer” opens with Devo-style keyboards and a female’s sexual moans (presumably Wayne’s wife, porn star Tera Wray). Business picks up with the signature guitar crunches and drum rhythms. Unfortunately, the track seems a bit disjointed at times, as if Static didn’t know where to go next after every verse. It gels better at the end, thanks to some soft backing keyboards, but it left me mildly unimpressed. Plenty of people are going to claim that this is just a more ‘raw’ sound for Static, but I’m not buying it. For me, it just seems uninspired.

Not very often to we get ‘spoken’ lyrics from Static, so “She” was a treat based solely on that. The track, however, has plenty more to offer. It still sounds a lot like his former band, but that’s okay here – as it definitely sounds new and fresh. Plenty of electronic elements bouncing around, but the core of the track is Wayne’s fierce vocals and guitar work. Another standout effort.

“Get It Together” has a dedicatedly slower pace to it, but remains pretty heavy in its overall ‘feel.’ It’s not very complex, which is again a bit of a disappointment. It feels like there are tons of moments along the way that could have been ‘spiced up’ with keyboard pulses, drum loops, or anything else available to Static. Instead, the simplicity carries through for yet another forgettable track.

The tables get turned with “Chrome Nation.” Everything that was lacking during the last track is thrown swiftly into this one. Layer upon layer of sound build up this banger, and left me feeling as if I was suffering from blunt-force-trauma to the head – in a good way. Easily the best track of the album.

The tempo slows itself slightly for “Shifter,” but the bombastic nature is an improvement over the album’s other, less aggressive, songs. While guitars still rule the day here, just the right amount of effects hum in the background. The track is a bit more nu-metal than industrial (think Korn), but still packs enough punch to keep the listener bobbing their head.

I liked the structure brought forward in “Slave” more than probably anything else on the disc, but again the song was hampered by simplicity. Static twists the vocals a bit, and there are a few guitar effects thrown in for good measure, but I’m left thinking – again – how good this track COULD HAVE been.

You’re going to think I’m crazy for saying that “The Creatures Are Everywhere” is a ballad. For as frenetic and annihilating as Static’s tunes usually are, this is slowed down so much that you really can’t call it anything BUT a ballad. Whispered vocals are plentiful, and the drums actually don’t have that ‘drum machine’ sound this time around – a far more ‘natural’ approach to what is the most diverse track on the album. If you were to hear this song on the radio, you would never think Static was involved – and I consider that a triumph. I was waiting for something left-of-center, and this song was definitely it. After hearing this, I was wishing more of the album had been more experimental, but I’ll take what I can get on a record that his been a sordid compilation of both good and bad…

“Behind The Sky” is a three minute instrumental that continues the ‘new ground’ territory for Static. With the vocals gone (well, there is some faded female whispers and distorted male spoken parts cluttering the background), you get a chance to really ‘hear’ all the various layers of instruments – something I wish there would have been more of on this album.

An album that, in my opinion, fell short of expectations. If it was trying to be super heavy, it failed. If it was trying to showcase a new and improved side of Static’s repertoire, it missed there as well. There were several highlights along the way, but they only made the flaws stand out a bit more than they normally would have. For me, it felt exactly like what it was – a Static-X album without some key components obviously absent. There were hints at something brewing in Static’s brain, but I don’t think he was able to get them out for us to fully understand.

Next time around, I expect Wayne to have it a little more ‘together’ – but he may want to consider putting those around him that have obvious helped him be the creative force he has over the last 12 years. After all, ‘X’ does mark the spot.

5.5/10

Tracklist:
01. Pighammer
02. Around The Turn
03. Assassins Of Youth
04. Thunder Invader
05. Static Killer
06. She
07. Get It Together
08. Chrome Nation
09. Shifter
10. Slave
11. The Creatures Are Everywhere
12. Behind The Sky

Buy at Amazon

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