Always a heavier and more inventive band than their nominal affiliation to nu-metal made them appear, STATIC-X are a straightforward example of a band that many people didn't really appreciate until it was too late. The untimely passing of Wayne Static in 2014 certainly seemed to spell an end to the band's story, but thanks to a combination of fan enthusiasm and admirable commitment to the cause from surviving members Tony Campos, Koichi Fukuda and Ken Jay, "Project Regeneration Vol. 1" (and, of course, the soon-to-be-unveiled "…Vol. 2") provides everyone with a more fitting and poignant way to bow out. Pieced together from unreleased tracks and blessed with enough vocal demos from the man himself to populate an entire album, this is less a new studio album than a celebration of an often-underrated talent.
In contrast with many odds 'n' sods collections, "Project Regeneration Vol. 1" has plainly been put together with meticulous care. Perfectly paced and full of dynamic peaks and valleys, it may not rival the band's classic first two albums, "Wisconsin Death Trip" and "Machine", but it's far more than just some posthumous rehash. Songs like thunderous opener "Hollow" and the distinctly gnarly "Terminator Oscillator" hark back to all the things that made STATIC-X so appealing in the first place, but subtly upgraded and dragged into the third decade of the 21st century. "Something Of My Own" and "Worth Dyin For" are almost comically catchy, their creators' goth-tinged melodic sensibilities balanced out beautifully by that unmistakable industrial chug. "Otsego Placebo" is even more exhilarating. The song's a pulsating, four-to-the-floor barrage with howling synths, fizzing noise and Wayne Static in full-bore psycho mode, it sounds ruthlessly contemporary and brilliantly belligerent. "Follow" is another succinct punch to the guts, with maxed-out distortion wielded as a weapon of war, while the closing "Dead Souls" is simply stunning: a melancholy denouement built from tribal, post-punk clatter and simmering electronics, with the late, great vocalist center stage and wholly commanding.
There is no doubt that all of this will send diehard fans into a state of hysterical euphoria, not least because "Project Regeneration Vol. 1" feels like a rounded and coherent artistic statement, but there is more than enough substance and style here for the unconverted, too. Most importantly, that noble desire to honor the creative legacy of an iconic, much-loved metal lifer has been fully satisfied here. "Project Regeneration" is a genuinely great album and an emotionally incisive reminder that all great things must eventually come to an end — just not quite yet.