Wayne Static died on November 1st, 2014. I can’t claim to have followed Static-X past their first few albums, but I’ve always considered their debut Wisconsin Death Trip to be one of the very few classic albums to emerge from the nu metal explosion of the late ’90s. That’s because the album had more to do with the industrialized grooves and cruel precision of earlier bands such as Ministry and Prong than it did with the Adidas-addled two-chord junk Korn and Limp Bizkit were peddling. In my History of Groove Metal feature, I wrote of the album:
In 1999, a nu metal band would take groove metal to its logical conclusion. Static-X’s Wisconsin Death Trip could be called nu metal or industrial metal, and I think I even read something where they referred to themselves as “evil disco” (insert face-palm), but the truth is that this album distilled (some might say devolved) everything groove metal had been heading towards into simplicity itself. I’m guessing there are quite a few of you that read THKD who have deliberately never heard this thing, so for the uninitiated let me just put it this way; Wisconsin Death Trip is all groove, all the time. Most of the songs are short and sweet, no bridges, no guitar solos, no bullshit, just thick ‘n’ chunky grooves with industrial bleeps, bloops and loops no doubt inspired by the aforementioned Prong’s Rude Awakening. In fact, Static-X could be seen as Prong stripped of all complexity and sophistication.
In spite of clocking in at a rather robust forty-four minutes, Wisconsin Death Trip always felt sleek and stripped down because of the band’s simplistic yet crushingly heavy mechanized assault. What Static-X lacked in sophistication, they made up for in monstrous grooves and a knack for creating memorable refrains thanks to Static’s direct and to-the-point lyrics. The album’s component parts are extremely basic, but Static-X are one of those bands that made doing a hell of a lot with very little into an art form.
While 2001’s Machine proved to be a worthy follow-up, Static-X became less mechanical and more melodic with successive releases, causing me to lose interest. However, those diminishing returns take nothing away from the fact that I owe a little bit of my love of electronically enhanced heavy music to Static-X. So rest in peace Mr. Static, and thanks for the evil disco.