There's a very fine line between simplicity and laziness. When I think simplicity, I think of how Weezer can effortlessly produce pop songs that never, ever get old, or the joy of '60s pop music. Laziness brings Godsmack and Three Days Grace to mind.
Static X's fifth disc, "Cannibal" (which, by the way, gets my early vote for year's dumbest album title), stands right on that line. The music is supposed to be a return to the band's earlier work, the frenzied, one-riff heavy metal that they've been straying from more and more in turn for slightly more melodic work. "Stripping away the excess as much as possible to write short, simple, catchy songs," as X frontman Wayne Static puts it.
All right, fair enough. It's not like Static X, what with their "I just got back from my first guitar lesson" riffs and equally underwhelming lyrics, have ever been ones for the most complex songs anyway. But "Cannibal" is far too low-key, and definitely not the kind of album the band should be producing this far into their career. If anything, by now, they should be making their music more complex and challenging rather than stripping down already thin material. Most of the album's songs, all quick shots of verse-chorus-verse metal, work great on their own, especially "No Submission," "Electric Pulse," and "Chroma-Matica." But as a whole, as loud and rapid as the album is, "Cannibal" never seems to gain much momentum through its 37-minute running time. It all seems too simple-minded, too rushed, as if the whole thing was written the night before recording began. It lacks flow or a general direction and feels more like a B-sides compilation than an actual album.
Sometimes the band gets a chance to shine. Wayne Static and fellow guitarist Koichi Fukuda churn out guitar solos for the first time in the band's music, and while it's not like these guys are Hendrix or anything, it's at least a good start toward writing music that's at least slightly complex to play.
Static, whose bitter bark is so fierce that it's surprising he hasn't ruined his vocal cords yet, doesn't do any real, clean singing here, but his incredible vocals on the album should leave no one questioning him as one of today's best metal vocalists. And the album is filled with lots of good hooks for those with short attention spans and fairly low standards.
I guess you can't expect too much from an album that features a song about being eaten alive by a giant reptile. "Cannibal" definitely makes for a fun listen, but the whole thing buzzes by so frantically that it hardly leaves an impression. DOWNLOAD THESE: "Electric Pulse," "Forty Ways."
Jason Silverstein is a sophomore at Williamsville North.