Tonight the Stars Align | Music / Reviews | Coagulopath

This album caused Powerman 5000 to become very big, very fast. It went platinum – something the band would never repeat, and (on the evidence of their previous album) should never have been possible at all.

In 1999, many things suddenly went in their favor. They were signed to a major label, and now had the muscle to swing Sylvia Massey and Ulrich Wild as producers. Lead single “When Worlds Collide” was added to heavy rotation on MTV, and immediately caught on as a ready-made WWE walk-on music. And by 1999, industrial metal was bigger than it would ever be again, powered by mainstream crossover smashes like Orgy’s cover of “Blue Monday.”

Spider One abandoned the rapping and funk-rock riffs of their first album for a sleeker, catchier, more mainstream sound. The guitars are loaded with effects, and although Spider’s barked vocals are the central point, the guitar work is pretty ambitious and fascinating. This is one of those records where it’s not always easy to distinguish the riffs from the loops and the electronics.

Classic songs abound. “Supernova Goes Pop” brings the party with heavy riffs and Spider’s sinewy, slithery vocals (it has personal significance for me, as it’s the first song I learned to play). “Are you the future…or are you the past?” The title track is incoherent, out of control, and fun. “When Worlds Collide” is still the album’s best song. It’s short, it’s catchy, and it’s loaded with energy, making it suitable for all of the 5 million “XXXtreme” sports games it has appeared in.

“The Son of X-51” is driving and propellant. Rob Zombie gets a guest spot on the explosive “Blast Off to Nowhere.” The album ends with a cover of a Cars song, further cementing them as a rock band. The only clear link Powerman 5000 has to hip hop at this point is the presence of “skit” tracks.

This album really kicks ass. Even at their biggest, Powerman 5000 was behind Rob Zombie and Static-X, but not too far behind. They could have built on this, but instead the band imploded soon after. That’s the thing about supernovas: they’re bright and pretty, but they mark the death of a star.