Powerman 5000 – New Wave (2017)
Back during the peak of nu-metal in late 90’s, Powerman 5000 released some of the best industrial-rock tinged nu-metal out there. In particular, the album Tonight The Stars Revolt was essential listening and spawned classics like Nobody’s Real and Supernova Goes Pop, tracks that actually stand up very well to this day. That album should have been followed up by Anyone For Doomsday? but it was cancelled and PM5K altered their retro sci-fi schtick (a trait that added to the band’s appeal) for a more hard rock vibe. That’s where it all fell apart for me and it wasn’t until 2009’s Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere that the band caught my attention again, with the return of that earlier electronic influence. 2014’s Builders Of The Future continued that return to form and now the band return with New Wave, an album that doesn’t deviate from the established Powerman 5000 sound.
How do you differentiate between a band that has found a consistent groove and a band that is utterly stuck in a rut? PM5K frontman Spider One certainly knows how to crank out catchy melody after catchy melody and yet despite some questionable lyrical misadventures, there’s nothing intrinsically bad about 2017’s New Wave. It does, however, feel very similar to the previous two albums.
On a positive note, this new album is guaranteed to keep Powerman 5000 fans satiated. It has those huge melodies the band is known for. It has energy-cramped, bombastic industrial tinged tunes soaked in a punkish attitude. And if there were innate attributes to differentiate this album from previous outings is that added dash of punk energy and also Spider One’s very direct acknowledgment of his musical heroes; “Sid Vicious in a Dress” and “David Fucking Bowie”. If you’re searching for some new, quintessential nu-metal, look no further than album opener “Footsteps and Voices”; its colossal chorus surrounded by rap-rock verses drenched in Spider One’s lyrical attack. That punk influence is widely apparent throughout “Cult Leader” – with a chord structure highly reminiscent of a The Sex Pistols track, which leads back to “Sid Vicious in a Dress”. There’s more punk-metal attack on the 1 minute 11 seconds of “Thank God”. Following that, the album finishes with a trio of standard-issue, PM5K by-numbers tracks, with an apparent lack of inspiration being slightly disappointing.
Definitely not a game-changer and probably not an album that will grow Powerman 5000’s fanbase, New Wave sees the band cruise on easy street. Perhaps if main-man Spider One decided to challenge himself musically and throw a few curveballs, the end result might be more interesting. Nevertheless, this is a Powerman 5000 album and if you’re familiar with the band, you know exactly what you’re gonna get.
New Wave is out now.