July 31, 2006

CD Review: Powerman 5000: Destroy What You Enjoy

Powerman 5000 is returning with their first album since 2003's Transform, and it continues the straight up rock sound that they started with that album. They may not be the most prolific of bands, but they can always be counted on to put out a solid album. They mix a party-rock sound with some darker lyrical content to create an identifiable sound.

They have had an interesting career. Over the course of their four major releases, including Destroy What You Enjoy, they have had three distinctly different sounds while never losing their identity as a single band, guided all the while by lead singer Spider. Their major label debut was Mega! Kung Fu Radio which was released in 1997 and was entrenched in the nu-metal sound of the time. It was a good disk, though hardly groundbreaking. That was followed buy their break through 1999 release, Tonight the Stars Revolt. That album eschewed the nu-metal stylings in favor of a electro-rock sound. It has been their biggest album to date. Jump ahead two years to 2001, they were within a week of releasing Anyone for Doomsday? when Spider decided he didn't want it to be released. Retailers had already started promoting it, but Spider deemed it sounded to much like their prior release and wanted to go in a different direction. That was shelved, although I believe copies can be found in the secondary market. 2 years later Powerman 5000 returned with Transform, a straight rock album which is a very good listen. That brings us to the present, the eve of the release of Destroy What You Enjoy.

On a bit of a side note, the time between Transform and Destroy haven't been completely devoid of new PM5K music. The Fall of 2004 saw the release of The Good , the Bad and the Ugly Vol. 1. This is a very good release compiling many of their pre-Mega! days, displaying a jazzier, funkier sound that I wish they would revisit someday.

Destroy What You Enjoy picks up right where Transform left off. It marks the first time they have had consecutive releases with the same style. I'm not sure if that is any real comment on the band or not, but perhaps they found their niche. I did get to hear a few of these new tracks live a few months back when their tour made a stop in my town. I remember "Destroy What You Enjoy," "Heroes and Villains," and "Now That's Rock 'N Roll" being played, and sounding pretty good.

As much as I enjoyed the electro-sounds and the jazzier inflections of their earlier material, it is great to hear this straight up rock and roll. The sound isn't flashy, and isn't even terribly original, but they do a great job at playing it, and the music translates perfectly to the live setting.

The one thing that is undeniable after listening to this, is the pure catchiness and old-school feel that it possesses. It is hard to listen to it and not find yourself tapping your foot or rocking your head. Just try listening to "Wild World" or "Return to the City of the Dead" and not be immediately hooked. Ar want to rock out to "Walking Disaster" or "Murder."

The album closes out with a pair of unlikely tracks. First up is the country tinged "Miss America," a fun groove cut. The final song is a live rendition of "Heroes and Villains" which displays the high energy, and heavier vibe that exists in their live show.

In the end, Powerman 5000 rocks. Seemingly escaping the trappings that the masses would like them to subscribe to, they have "transformed" and "destroyed what you enjoy" to deliver something closer to what Spider wants to do. The sound has developed and changed since those early days, leaving behind high production values and electronic influences in favor of a more punk inspired rock sound.

Spider, Rob Zombie's younger brother, leads the band with distinctive voice and the energy required in a front man. You know, if they made a movie about Billy Idol, I think this is the man to play him, he really reminds me of the blonde one, especially live, what with his sneering and fist pumping. Behind him is the guitar duo of Johnny Heatley and Terry Corso, newcomers for this album, the fit in nice with rock style. On the rhythm section is Siggy on bass and Adrian Ost on drums.

Bottomline. This is a good disk, not quite as good as Transform, but is a good disk to put on and turn up. If you liked the prior album, you are sure to like this. If you are looking for a good album of rock music in a see of screamo and pop-rock, check this one out.

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