January 6, 2004 - When you lose half of your band over a period of two years the average band just might have an overwhelming feeling of throwing in the towel, but not Static-X. Two years after losing first-rate guitarist Koichi Fukuda, drummer Ken Jay also decided to split. But with new additions in the forms of Tripp Eisen and Nick Oshiro, Static-X seemed ready, willing and able to record another well-received album. Or so it appeared.

Alas, the loss of Fukuda undeniably exonerated the band of a good amount of kudos, while also leaving a colossal void, which by no means will ever be filled. And with Ken Jay the band lost a founding member who served as a sort of co-leader and added stimulus, if you will. Without these two in check, Static-X's latest effort, Shadow Zone, isn't the album is could and should have been.

Despite the shift in band members, this disc does manage to offer up some familiar sounds, a few tracks that give little nods to the band's older (and much more realized) material, specifically the near-classic Wisconsin Death Trip. Yet despite the similarities in sound, the bulk of the songs included here are still distinctively different from what could be considered as the golden age of Static-X.

The tracks that most closely resemble "classic" Static-X material include the likes of "Kill Your Idols" and "Dead World", yet even on these the presence of flat and irritatingly uniform sounding guitars tend to blend within each other creating what just seems to be background noise for front man Wayne Static's grunts and groans. To this end, the artistic elements seem to be completely drained out of most of this album, making it seem as if the band was more concerned with wanting to create something to rock to, instead of something to think to.

As far as the newer sounding material on the album, these songs express the lighter side of the usually stoic Wayne Static. On some of these tracks the usually growling, grunting frontman actually sings for a substantial amount of track time, but most of it sounds like he's emphatically mimicking Korn's Jonathan Davis, so much so that it almost sounds as if we are merely hearing Jonathan Davis with a totally different backing band, which isn't really as enjoyable as it might seem to be. Let's just say that Wayne Static's singing voice doesn't really fit in with the music of Static-X. It's almost as if he would sound more at home with an outfit of DJs spinning behind him rather than a dreadnaught metal band. Perhaps Mephisto Odyssey or maybe the Crystal Method. But Wayne Static could be so much more proficient with a different group of artists. He is obviously a gifted singer, but Static-X just isn't right for him, especially on their latest album.

If you are out to find an album with grueling guitars and abrasive vocals, then check out Shadow Zone. But if you are more interested in some "classic" material of the alt-metal/techno technique, then make sure to listen to Wisconsin Death Trip. It's still Static-X, but with a good blend of brisk vocals and stimulating sounds. Hell, check out both, but you will probably dig the older stuff more.

IGN's Ratings for Shadow Zone
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