Metal Review – Powerman 5000: Builders of the Future

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Metal Review – Powerman 5000: Builders of the Future
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Powerman 5000: Builders of the Future
Alternative Metal, Electronica, Groove Metal
T-Boy Records
May 27th, 2014
Release length: 34:20
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Since breaking out through MTV in 1999 with their Science Fiction fuelled hit Tonight the Stars Revolt!, a huge departure from their early Groove Metal recordings, the band seemed to drop off the radar. This seemed to be thanks to the follow-up album Anyone for Doomsday? being scrapped shortly before release, and the following new effort, Transform, pushing the band into a different direction that went against the grain of what just shot them into stardom. After parting with DreamWorks Records and heading out on vocalist Spider One’s own Megatronic Records among others like DRT Entertainment and Cleopatra Records, their style jumped from Punk and Rock to Electronic heavy songs that made up their more recent efforts. For 2014, Powerman 5000 find themselves signed to the Universal Records off-shoot label T-Boy Records for their latest full-length effort named Builders of the Future. But has their long disappearance lingering in the underground hindered the group in any way, or was it a necessary visit before crawling out of the shadows once more?

Builders of the Future actually acts more like a compilation of their endeavours over the course of the past ten years and more. “Invade, Destroy, Repeat” throws back to the aggressive Science Fiction vibe circa-Tonight the Stars Revolt!. Infectious leads with additional electronics in the chorus make it impossible to walk away after the commanding chug of the main verses outline what could be taken as the band’s intentions with this release that sadly are not fulfilled upon. The technological side does remain steady though, such as with “Builders of the Future” and it’s Electronica foundation that seems to tread into Techno for the chorus. Lyrically it sounds like a positive Punk anthem for the youth with a slightly dark musical score behind it, though the message can be a bit lost due to the band’s age and shift in music by two-and-a-half minutes in. A lot of this could be taken a bit more seriously if you look at it with the intentions of a dystopian future in the vein of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Immediately after this first cut is “We Want it All,” a mid-tempo performance with deep distortions that sound riddled with over modulated static and upbeat presence that grows richer during the chorus with a focus on stronger fills from the cymbals and additional similar effects. While catchy, it’s hard to shake that it sounds like a Science Fiction of the recent releases from Spider’s older brother Rob Zombie. Thankfully it doesn’t always end up a bad or carbon copied experience like “Live It Up Before You’re Dead” is. That one isn’t as special, but it does make for a good mantra about living your life to the fullest. “You’re Gonna Love It If You Like It” is a bit darker, but equally as catchy. “How to be a Human” has plenty of eighties Rock hooks among some modern Electronica touches that make for a song that is simply fun to listen to. “Modern World” is a little thinner in comparison, but the light-hearted nature is still vibrantly on display. The look at “modern” society and mixing it with futuristic advancements along the lines of whatGene Roddenbery and Isaac Asimov write about is simply brilliant.

There’s also a few odd tracks that sound out of place. “I Want to Kill You” carries an odd Western meets Steam Punk vibe in a dark, acoustic-filled piece that could very well play on any Rock radio station if it weren’t for the obvious lyrical content and an atmosphere Earth could appreciate if it weren’t for the displaced Science Fiction elements in the chorus. “I Can’t Fucking Hear You” is an odd mixture of the aforementioned eighties upbeat feel good film soundtrack approach that is filled with twisted guitars that often set up an odd blend of the Middle Eastern leads with a generic drum machine effect. While it isn’t a terrible track, the only thing that makes this cut seem like more than a couple musicians screwing around in the studio with no real goal in mind is the sudden change of direction around three minutes in that abruptly introduces a little more structure and complexity to the mix.

There is one last thing to the album’s credit that needs to be addressed. While it’s a widely varied effort, “Evil World” manages to wrap it all up in a broad lyrical manner that takes the previous few songs as a manner of adaptation to this new and different world. If following this theory with the concept of an visitor that is alien, some of the earlier tracks could be considered this being researching this world and deciding to go ahead and check it out because he/she/it is young and life is short, so why not live it up, right? The genius bit about this comes into play if you’re listening to Builders of the Future in a way that repeats from the start, wrapping everything back around to “Invade Destroy Repeat” so that the start is actually the final chapter, and the rest of the material shows the process to understand and enslave mankind or a similar species/planet starting with “We Want it All,” beginning the cycle anew. It’s a broad explanation of the release as a whole, but if you view it in that sense it does make repeat spins a little more engaging, allowing your mind to create new and different scenarios for each spin and engaging true veterans of the Science Fiction genre.

With that said, Builders of the Future is a good album that could have been so much better. Instead of trying to be unique or recapture the full glory from one period of their career, the band opted to revisit every aspect of their career while mirroring vocalist Spider One’s brother’s post-Educated Horses success with electronics and Science Fiction themes. But aside some darker cuts and the deceptive “Invade, Destroy, Repeat,” this recording is clearly meant to be fun and sometimes cheeky, all the while blending vintage Sci-Fi ideas with a modern world in the process. If you lost track of the band or are a die-hard fan, there are plenty of reasons as to why you should check out Builders of the Future when you get the chance, though just as many that make for a hesitant bumpy ride.

01. Invade, Destroy, Repeat – 2:56
02. We Want it All – 2:40
03. How to be a Human – 3:27
04. You’re Gonna Love It if You Like It – 3:22
05. Builders of the Future – 3:38
06. I Want to Kill You – 4:41
07. Modern World – 2:53
08. Live It Up Before You’re Dead – 3:01
09. I Can’t Fucking Hear You – 4:5454
10. Evil World – 2:55
Initial Pressing Score: 6/10

Powerman 5000
Powerman 5000

Digital review copy of this release provided by T-Boy Records via Fresno Media.