Static-X: Cannibal

The bitch is back. Static-X puts the pedal back to the metal on their fifth album.



Label: Reprise
US Release Date: 2007-04-03
UK Release Date: Available as import

Forgive me for quoting the tagline of a now-dated horror movie to open up a review on an album, but this line is especially appropriate to Cannibal: the bitch is back. Right from the cover art, to track names as unfriendly as “Cuts You Up”, “Team Hate” and “Destroyer”, to the album title itself, one assumes a significant amount of energy on Static-X’s fifth album has gone towards putting the pedal back to the metal. And indeed, Cannibal is the band’s heaviest, most gritty and frenetic effort since their debut, 1999’s Wisconsin Death-Trip, which established them, alongside Slipknot, as one of the most extreme bands to emerge from the “nu-metal” movement. They’ve experimented with (gulp) broadening their sound in a number of ways since then, and have even trademarked a crossover sound, “evil disco,” so named because the band has a surprising knack for mutilating otherwise perfectly danceable industrial beats.

Cannibal, though, is one of the most back-to-basics, intentionally “balls-out” albums released of late. The production is basic enough that even the most diehard metal fan should appreciate it, but it's not underdone, and the group’s MTV exposure also means that the album is considerably more vicious than anything readily available on the rock market. Most of all, frontman Wayne Static (aka "the guy with the vertical hair") is the dominating feature, letting loose with a tortured, near-black-metal scream, sounding in finer form than he’s been in a long time (see their whiney minor hit “I’m the One”). He kicks off the proceedings in spectacular fashion with this line:

“Thrash it bash it live to smash it!”

As if that doesn’t sum up the disc’s aesthetic enough, the track’s backdrop is a flurry of industrial noise which owes more to Slayer than it does to Korn, and, in true evil-disco style, the guitars do not roar, as one would expect: they pulsate with the beat. There’s even a solo from Rob Zombie guitarist John 5, and it ends with Static spitting “Cannibal! Cannibal!”

“No Submission”, which earned itself a place on the Saw III soundtrack, has a brutal sense of rhythmic control to it, locking into a complex vortex of electrical patterns and clashing, augmented riffs -- but it’s really the mighty chorus of “No! Submission!” that without a doubt makes it the album’s best cut. Drummer Nick Oshiro, of ex-Seether fame, is a shock; you’d never have guessed he could thrash as hard and as precisely as he does from anything he contributed to with his previous band. “Behemoth” gets by on a groove-heavy, bouncy beat, accomplished by fretters Static and Koichi Fukuda slugging their downtuned instruments as fast as possible, and the flailing, bloodthirsty “Cuts You Up” does just what its title says.

Unfortunately, as highly recognizable as their mix is, it begins to lose steam outside of those top-notch cuts -- it is, after all, hard to keep bringing up new takes on the jet-engine metal sound, even if it does have bleeps. In addition, some of these tracks are sorely in need of better (that is, more than one word) hooks. “Reptile” is a deeply disturbing example about being eaten alive by a reptile, with a typically stupid Static-X chorus of “Reptile! Reptile! Reptile! Reptile!” Boring! Boring! Boring! Boring! “Hate Team” is even worse. Static himself is the star performer... his guttural yelps fit in perfectly with the serrated industrial-thrash atmosphere, but the other players are at a stage where they need to grind their instruments on something a little more challenging to cut it. “Destroyer” has a verse built entirely around one chord -- would it be too much to ask them to change positions once in a while? Using only one chord makes anything seem tediously one-dimensional.

Then again, being one-dimensional is Cannibal’s outlook. The only way to enjoy it is as the pounding, albeit superficial, soundtrack to a disco in hell. At its best, the outfit is surly and thick-skinned; trying to fight against the whirlwind they create is like running against a wall. While that will turn off the fans of alt-rock that this kind of fare will be slid next to, anyone looking for a product that’s made of tougher stuff than most of what’s on the radio should start here for a decent beating. Sometimes you’d prefer to have your head crushed into oblivion than mystified with all sorts of peculiar musical experiments, and it’s a rush to hear Static-X genuinely aggressive again.







A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.


Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.


DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.


JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.


​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.


Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times


Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.


How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.


Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.