Powerman 5000 Ride Their New Wave to New Heights
New Wave – Out October 27th, 2017
Powerman 5000 are the most consistently diverse hard rock/metal band of the past twenty years. That is not to say that their albums don’t have a readily recognizable sound. Vocalist Spider One’s band is identifiable as such due to the eternal presence of his powerful and pummeling vocals and the band’s loud, loud guitars. What makes them diverse is their genius level mastery of several rock genres. Over the course of their near 25 year career Powerman 5000 has made hard rock, metal, punk, and thrash albums. Never before have they melded them all together though in such a consistent sounding album of diverse music threaded through by Spider’s one of a kind rock vocals and, of course, those loud, loud guitars. New Wave is a powerful statement from a band that has just about done it all musically in rock, but sound as fresh as if this is their first album.
New Wave opens with a hard thrasher of a song titled “Footsteps and Voices.” Spider thrash raps (for the first time in quite a while) about “Hearing footsteps/345 still staring at the ceiling/Locked up tight/But still you got that feeling/You’re not alone/There’s someone in your home/Their breathing down your neck/Their tappin’ your phone” over top of a paranoically ascending guitar riff. He could be reflecting on the modern fears of a total loss of privacy due to electronic surveillance and social media or he could just be telling an “X-Files” like story much like he did in days past about colliding supernovas. The interpretation is up to you. You are drawn into completing (while infusing) the song with its deeper meaning and that’s a sign of some pretty darn good (i.e. artistic) songwriting. “Die on Your Feet” revisits the thrash theme later on during the album, but there sprinkles the whole affair with the sci-fi supernova dust that infuses so much of PM5K’s music. “Footsteps and Voices” blasts the album off in rare fashion, as only PM5K can.
“Sid Vicious in a Dress,” the album’s first single, shifts the album into more PM5K radio familiar territory. Thick riffs and beats propel a song about the hard rockin’, and hard livin’, “most beautiful girl in town.” It’s a crowd pleaser, and one of my favorite songs off the album. It has a punk theme lyrically, but musically isn’t punk at all. Spider brings the punk musically with “Cult Leader,” another standout track. This is straight up punk, minus the pop that seems to define so much of punk music these days. “Thank God” veers the album into hardcore, the next logical step after “Cult Leader.” Clocking in at 1 minute 11 seconds it’s the shortest yet hardest hitting song PM5K has ever delivered.
The most original sounding and lyrically interesting song is “David Fucking Bowie.” It’s an obvious tribute to the late Bowie, and pretty aptly delivers a solid homage to Bowie’s own vastly diverse and sci-fi tinged style of rock music. Danceable, in the slamdance sense, ethereally ascendent at its center, and bookended by some thick trademark PM5K guitar work, “David Fucking Bowie” is a great piece of songwriting. Bowie would have loved it.
Rounding out the album is “Run For Your Life,” a song that recalls the clarion call to action, involvement, and positive action that “Free” (off of the band’s phenomenal 2003 album Transform) rang out so loudly. Spider sings about making sure you “Run, run, run for your life/Before it’s too late/ and “You were born here/And you’ll die here/If you lie here anymore.” Spider is not telling his listeners to run for your LIFE in fear, but to run FOR your life in order to live fully. A sedentary existence is no existence at all. How about that Spider One? Under all the sci-fi punk swagger, he’s really just a poet with a positive message. Well, if you’ve been listening closely over the years, that positive message has always been there, it just hasn’t been as starkly represented on a PM5K album since the aforementioned Transform. “Run For Your Life” is a chill inducing anthem, PM5K style, which makes it a just about perfect rock song, like much of New Wave itself is.
Release Date: October 27th, 2017
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