Updated: Aug 15
When Wayne Static passed away in 2014, the music world lost a lasting icon. Rock stars, more so than anyone else, feel like they will live forever, and when the news breaks of their passing, untimely or otherwise, it’s a gut punch. Add to this that his widow, Tera Wray Static, would pass away roughly a year and a half later, and the whole situation is a tough pill to swallow. Fortunately, in the time since the frontman’s passing, a number of vocal demos were found in his estate, and this has allowed the founding members of the band - bassist/backing vocalist Tony Campos, guitarist Koichi Fukuda, and drummer Ken Jay - to record new material featuring their lost colleague. Other unwritten tunes were supported by Xer0, an as-yet-unknown lookalike who isn’t trying to replace Wayne, but rather honor his legacy and his decade-plus dedication to the art of evil disco.
Thus we have Project Regeneration, a collection of new material from the Wisconsin faithful. Their first material since 2009’s Cult of Static, the album is a tribute to their fallen leader, as well as a celebration of the nu metal that they didn’t necessarily invent, but certainly performed like few others could in the early 2000s. It’s a throwback and a comeback all at once, and all told, it’s a great time. It may be lost on those who are only discovering the band for the first time, but even with that considered, this is a fine record.
“Regeneration” starts off with a pulsing beat and voice samples akin to The Six Million Dollar Man, before “Hollow” busts through with a monstrous hook. This is the first taste of Wayne’s unreleased material, and if I had to place this one, it would feel like it came from the Shadow Zone era of the band, as they used more clean vocals and lower guitar tunings. Next is “Worth Dyin’ For,” chugging on the low B with another great riff. This one feels like Wisconsin Death Trip-era Static-X, with the half-growled, half-sung vocals evoking memories of “Bled for Days.” Evil disco is alive and well, even if its spiky-haired progenitor is no longer with us.
“Terminator Oscillator” is the first track to solely feature Xer0’s vocals, and he really does manage to get close to the sound of Static. Having seen the new Static-X live, the illusion is kept well by whoever lies under the mask, both in presentation and execution. “All These Years” sees Wayne’s screams as clear and piercing as ever in the chorus, and the song serves as a chiller, given its subject matter and singer. It feels as classic, true blue Static-X as anything does on the album. “Accelerate” is a skullcrusher of a riff, detuned guitars only needing a couple of notes to craft a thunderous riff.
“Bring You Down” feels like later-era Static, and hearing a song without Wayne screaming or using any sort of unclean vocals is odd. That said, this might be my favorite track of the album, second only to “Hollow.” Maybe it’s the vocals, maybe it’s the overall sound, but as a Static-X fan since my preteen years, it makes sense that the Wayne-sung tracks are standing out. No disrespect to Xer0 intended, but these tracks feel like my early high school years again, and feeling nostalgic at my age is such a weird feeling. It is on “My Destruction” that I start to wonder if the rumors of Edsel Dope playing the role of Xer0 are true, as the vocals sound like his if you put them up against just about any Dope song.
Yes, I’m aware there’s a good chance that it is Edsel under the mask. As a wrestling fan, I try to suspend disbelief, so just gimme a break and let a dude live, alright?
“Something Of My Own” feels like a radio-ready rocker, with a four on the floor groove instead of a classic dance beat. It’s a great track, don’t get me wrong, but this one feels a little more commercial, and while I don’t think that’s a bad thing, for a band like Static-X, that feels like something worth noting. The riffing on “Otsego Placebo” is classic, and the synths add a creepy, unsettling edge to this pulse-pounding track. It’s high-energy, balls to the wall, and it’s just so fun. “Follow,” which sees Xer0 share vocals with Wayne, feels like later, perhaps Cult of Static-era material, while the album closer is the most unique of the bunch. “Dead Souls” sees Uncle Al Jourgensen (Ministry, Revolting Cocks, et al) lend his vocals to what is as close to a power ballad as we could see Static-X doing. Again, much like “Something Of My Own,” I don’t say that to slight the song or the creative direction, but it does stand out among everything else on display, and I can already see some of the more hardcore fans raising eyebrows or thumbing their noses at this one.
But this one isn’t for them. Project Regeneration is for the fans, it’s for the band, it is for Wayne. Even setting that aside, this is a fun album. Ulrich Wild, the producer of this and much of the industrial metal scene in the Nineties and Naughties, has helped the band find that classic sound, while playing around with new techniques to make a wholly enjoyable record. Again, I can’t say that a new fan of Static-X would necessarily “get it,” but that doesn’t mean I’m recommending this album any less.