90s Score: 8/10
2016 Score: Still 8/10, fool!
Static-X knew how to write a song. They knew how to make it groove, they knew how to make it catchy, they knew how to make it heavy, and above all they understood the importance of making the music their own. When Wisconsin Death Trip in was released in 1999 it was largely ignored by the wider music community as being derivative of the nu-metal craze, which is a shame as it had very little in common Limp Bizkit or Korn. Frontman Wayne Static, now tragically deceased, would later proclaim his band’s style to be “evil disco,” a label which does seem to fit much better.
The album is announced with a single hit to the snare drum before the one-two punch of “Push It” and “I’m With Stupid” takes you on a knock-out journey which, once you’ve finished, only leaves you wanting to go back. “I’m With Stupid” in particular makes full use of the industrial-sample-as-hook technique, with broken dialogue from the film Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama used to make up the spoken lyrics “so I grabbed my shovel.” Former drummer Ken Jay’s performance is top notch, keeping the songs interesting and upbeat as he needles his way between sporadic samples and frenzied vocals with some spot on cymbal work.
The record does get bogged down slightly in the middle by “I Am” and “Otsegolation” (incidentally, most of the Otsego sequels that are present on later releases are much better than this one), but “Stem” reaches out and grabs back your attention by smacking you in the face. A dreamy sample plays right up into Static screaming “Stem!” before the drunken groove takes over and pummels you.
My favorite song on this album has always been “The Trance is the Motion.” This penultimate track builds tension masterfully, carrying it through what really does feel like a trance into the most explosive scream-along on the album with lyrics, “This is the motion of the new revolution!”
Static-X knew that they couldn’t keep up this bleakness forever, and on later records infused exponentially more melody and calmness than what is displayed here. Yet Wisconsin Death Trip stands the test of time as one of the most unhinged and violent debuts in the industrial metal zeitgeist.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson