Whenever I sit down to write about a band, I’ll throw on Spotify’s “This is…” artist spotlight playlist. It’s always a nice way of getting a refresher course through the entire back catalogue of a band. Doing so for PM5K has just reminded me of how damn fun and exciting their output has been for 30 years.
Powerman 5000 are a thematically genre-heavy act, with the most obvious comparison being frontman Spider One’s older brother, Rob Zombie. But where Zombie’s thematic focus has always been schlocky horror tropes from somewhere between the 60s and 80s, Powerman 5000 bring together much broader visual and lyrical themes – apocalyptic pulp sci-fi, Kung fu, robots and other oddities.
All of this is presented via a punky, bouncy industrial rock sound that is somehow made up of both polished electronica and raw alt rock instrumentals.
Spider One’s vocals range from a robotic, almost staccato delivery, to growled crooning, adding another driving, bouncing element to the already hook-laden tracks.
While the band has continued to adapt and alter their sound in various ways over the last thirty years, that mixture of dirty punk and polished industrial elements has always remained and is undeniably Powerman 5000.