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Wayne Static

Pighammer

(Dirthouse; US: 4 Oct 2011; UK: 4 Oct 2011)

You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover

Wayne Static is the lead singer for multi-platinum-selling industrial nu-metallers Static-X. Pighammer is Static’s debut solo project and, according to his bio, it’s the “bastard child of Wayne Static’s transformation after a 12 year journey of metal annihilation.” An interesting proposition – if only it were true. Pighammer isn’t a transformation for Static, more a devolution. Paring back the overtly nu-metal elements of his main band, Static’s new release clings to a dark electro and industrial vibe that essentially mimics the work of early ‘90s artists.


Transformation was clearly on Static’s mind. The overall “concept” for the Pighammer project is based around “a mad plastic surgeon, with a pig fetish, that likes to convert hot chicks into pigs.” We’re not talking grand levels of erudite sophistication, or any insightful musings. The notion that a solo album is an opportunity to express profound, hitherto untapped ideas is not on the agenda. Pighammer is simply a continuation of the same regressive themes of Static’s main band.


If you’re a Static-X enthusiast then Pighammer is probably going to resonate with you, at least in some respects. The first single, “Assassins of Youth”, has plenty of that chunky ‘evil disco’ the band is famed for, and the song contains all the sonic elements you’ll find on the rest of the album in three minutes flat – no need to worry about any musical surprises later on! The lowbrow delight of the accompanying video clinches the deal visually with its meditations on the hyper-glamorized, over-sexed and drug-addled mental anguish that apparently defines the life of the modern rocker.


The first single and video are no doubt sincere expressions of Static’s inner turmoil, and if you’re a fan of hammering industrial tunes and gyrating, panty-clad porn stars then you can go right ahead and mark the album down as a complete success. But don’t confuse Pighammer‘s industrial leanings with the opiate-infused dirges of Ministry, or the raw emotionality of Nine Inch Nails. Pighammer has far more in common with the soundtrack to a pimped out brothel than anything genuinely dangerous.


Nobody was expecting a pithy metaphysical deconstruction on the pitfalls of fame from Static. He has worked extremely hard over the past decade or so – his main band having some major successes along the way – he’s paid his dues, and he’s perfectly entitled to release whatever the hell he wishes. However, the opportunity for him to develop a more self-reflective narrative on his solo debut has been squandered. Static has been operating in the world of major-label rock for a long time, he’s had time to contemplate the absurdity of celebrity and there must be stories to tell. Honestly, if you want freak show tales delivered with any sort of intensity, Marilyn Manson was pumping that stuff out in the ‘90s.


Pighammer isn’t, in any way, an innovative release – although, in fairness, that’s probably not something Static’s audience requires. Smothered in electronic treatments and a flat, slapping percussiveness, it’s ‘90s electro-metal all over again. One assumes the album is a genuine reflection of Static’s own influences, rather than a cynical attempt to pluck a few dollars off the back of vintage industrial revivalism, and while it’s all a bit safe and nostalgic, it makes perfect sense that Static’s work imitates musicians who’ve sought to evoke some form of dark tribal catharsis via hard-electronica.


Static himself has no problem recycling all sorts of swaggering disco beats and sleazy grinding riffs. The album is full of crunchy and compressed guitars, samples, loops, keyboards and of course the de rigueur industrial fuzzy vocals. Unfortunately, the overall effect of all that technological wizardry means the album sounds dated, thin and very familiar. It’s simply far too reminiscent of a plethora of ‘90s industrial/metal outfits; bands such as KMFDM, White Zombie, Skrew, or My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult have all been here and done that to death.


Ultimately, Pighammer‘s failings (and successes – I’ve not forgotten you Static fans) is best encapsulated on the press release: “(it has)… guitar riffs and lyrics that will take hold of your bowels and into the mind of Static’s dark past and warped mind.” If you’re a fan of music that takes “hold of your bowels,” enjoy torture-porn, later-day Korn albums or the more squalid aspects of popular culture, then you’ll no doubt love what’s on offer. For those who don’t enjoy the puerile side of life, and are perhaps of a more discerning demographic, then be advised: Pighammer is clichéd, and if you felt compelled to spend some time contemplating its overarching narrative, perhaps even marginally offensive (but not really). If you’re not a fan of Static’s previous work, you’re going to find the album vacuous.

Rating:

Craig Hayes is based in Aotearoa New Zealand, and he is a contributing editor and columnist at PopMatters. Alongside his reviews and feature articles, Craig's monthly column, Ragnarök, traverses the metal spectrum. He is the co-author of PopMatters' regular metal round-up, Mixtarum Metallum, contributes to radio shows and numerous other sites, and he favours music that clangs, bangs, crashes, or drones. Craig can be found losing followers daily on twitter @sixnoises.


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Wayne Static - Assasins of Youth (NSFW)
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