Powerman 5000 – Tonight the Stars Revolt – Review

Powerman 5000

Tonight the Stars Revolt (Dreamworks)
by Scott Hefflon

Joining the ranks of high-profile heavy, energetic, twisted fuckers is Powerman 5000. Rising to notoriety in Boston, moving to L.A. where there’re fatter necks to suck off, and now living the life of nü metal superstars, PM5K has jockeyed into the position of a band that sells more albums their first week in stores than many bands sell total. Perhaps you can tell from my tone that I’m less than a loyal fan. At best, I’m a skeptic, at worst, an open (and extremely vocal) detractor.

See, it’s not that PM5K’s music is bad, in fact Tonight the Stars Revolt! is quite good, if you get into that whole Korn/Coal Chamber/Sevendust/Limp Bizkit/Kid Rock style of moan-roar-rap-metal stuff, it’s that I distrust the genre as a whole as a faddy, industry-driven fabrication. Spider One (I just can’t say/write that without chuckling – the guy used to work at Tower for $5 an hour, and someone else in the band used to do my photocopying at Staples) groans more like Marilyn Manson every day, and seeing as all the tattoos and hair styles haven’t saved Sugar Ray from being anything other than Backstreet Posterboys, I don’t see why these jetsetting middle-of-the-roaders oughtta be any different.

The record sounds great, as it should for the amount of money it cost. Sylvia Massy (Tool) and Ulrich Wild (White Zombie) produced it, so of course it sounds huge. Guest appearances include Spider’s cousin, Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit’s DJ Lethal, and Marilyn Manson’s Ginger Fish (courtesy of Geffen, Flip, and Nothing Records, respectively – all “coincidentally” affiliated with Interscope and thus Universal, which is the big daddy to Dreamworks and practically everything else not owned by Sony or Warner Bros. Can you smell the incest?). There’s a cover of The Cars’ “Let the Good Times Roll” which is terrifically unnecessary, and while the spoken intros are trashily reminiscent of Sloppy Seconds or Mötley Crüe, they really only rub in how much camp value PM5K is willing to throw in in an attempt to make a bunch of pretty mediocre songs into a “concept album,” or something equally high-falutin’. I allow Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson such tawdry gimmicks because I seem them as self-created artists (no, I really do – beneath all the clown make-up is art, I’m sure of it), but PM5K and their nü metal ilk can rant’n’roar all they want, I’m not buying it. Plenty of people are, either cuz they’re dumb or they don’t know they have other options (like thinking, or digging through ‘zine reviews and the “record” bins), but I steadfastly refuse to accept that this tip-of-the-metal-iceberg is going to be what the late ’90s are remembered for.