NightmareRevisitedRelease Year: 2008

Rating: 6.5/10

Tim Burton’s epic and amazing Nightmare Before Christmas was released over twenty years ago and it remains one of his most beloved works. Every year a new generation of misfits and degenerates fall in love with Jack and Sally, ready to storm Hot Topic for any and all merch with their faces on it. There’s no doubt it’s an amazing movie with a fun and whimsical soundtrack. When the movie was re-released in theaters, the soundtrack was reworked with covers from various artists. What sounded like a good idea ended up being a total nightmare.

I’m not big on movie soundtracks or even musical movies, but I make an exception for this film. Every song is great and never gets on your nerves, unlike some films. The soundtrack is amazing on its own, so having popular artists put their own spin on things didn’t sound that bad. Unfortunately, for a disc that boasts twenty tracks, only a handful are worth your time. Hands down the best song is “This is Halloween” by Marilyn Manson. He is absolutely perfect for this cover since he was once known as a creepy guy. Also, he tries to keep the original vibe by putting on different voices for the various characters. Since the song has a harder edge to it, it makes it something you don’t mind hearing all year round.

All American Rejects also tried to adapt different voices for “Jack’s Lament,” but the result is terrible. Half the time they sound bored, like they didn’t want to do the song in the first place. Then there are moments where they go between falsetto and dramatic as if they couldn’t decide whether or not to alter their vocals. They hit the mark in terms of music, but the band sounds tone deaf throughout the whole thing. Korn does a decent job with their cover of “Kidnap the Sandy Claws.” Jonathan Davis sounds mischievous and bratty as he snarls “Kidnap the sandy claws/throw him in the bag.” It’s a great metal version of the tune, which is rare because I personally don’t like Korn, but they were a perfect fit for the song. Rise Against is another band that does a good job with their cover of”Making Christmas.” Filled with fast, hard guitars and lots of screaming, they made the track into something you can mosh to.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of instrumental tracks on the album. Most of them are good and stay true to the original, such as Vitamin String Quartet’s “Jack and Sally Montage” and Amiina’s cover of “Doctor Finkelstein/In the Forest” that sounds downright haunting. The most baffling musical track is “Oogie Boogie’s Song” by Rodrigo y Gabriella. They definitely put their own spin on things by turning the jazzy track into a Flamenco dance number, but the issue is they took out all the lyrics. How can you take one of the most iconic, epic, fun, and amazing songs from the movie and strip it of the lyrics that perfectly show who Oogie Boogie is? Tiger Army also covered the song with the lyrics, but it doesn’t fair any better.

One really good instrumental is “Nabbed” by Yoshida Brothers. Things start out in an Oriental musical style before it evolves into a groovy funk track with elements of electronica weaved throughout. Midway through it turns into smooth 90’s jazz. It sounds hard to pull off, but they do it in a way where everything meshes together. They really made the track something different and enjoyable. You’ll find yourself dancing to it before you know it. It actually seems like something Daft Punk would do. It’s so good you won’t mind that it’s seven minutes long.

The rest of the soundtrack is uninspired. It either sounds downright awful, like Sparklehorse’s ear shattering version of “Jack’s Obsession,” over dramatic like Flyleaf’s version of “What’s This?” or just dull, like Polyphonic Symphony’s version of “Town Meeting Song.” Some like Plain White T’s do a decent enough job, but fail to really turn the song into something different. After awhile, the album grows boring and annoying. You keep looking at the tracklist wondering if it’ll finally end. If you want to relive all the magic and whimsy of the movie, it’s best to stick with the original.

Overall, the album gets 6.5/10. While there are a handful of artists who did something fun and original with their covers, most of them are dull, boring, and just plain bad. It wasn’t a bad idea to update the soundtrack, but most of the songs don’t differ much from the original. I could see this being played at Halloween parties, but if want to relive the magic, fantasy, and charm of the movie, listen to the original soundtrack. Danny Elfman sounds better as Jack anyway.

By the way…..

happy-halloween-images-2

Ghosts_MJRelease Year: 1996

Rating: 9/10

When you mention Michael Jackson and Halloween in the same sentence, the first thing that pops into your head is “Thriller,” mainly for the iconic music video. But this collaboration with Stephen King is on par with Jackson’s infamous short film, but never seems to get the same amount of attention. While it’s not perfect, it still has some amazing moments regarding the dancing and the fantastic makeup by Stan Winston. It’s a fun, spooky experience with the King of Pop that fans need to check out for Halloween.

The plot is simple: a small town mayor leads an angry mob with torches to an old, creepy mansion to run out the town reclusive. Spoiler: the reclusive is Michael Jackson. They barge into the house and Michael pulls off several tricks to both scare and excite them. The entire feeling of the film is a b-horror movie from the black and white opening scene to the stereotypical characters, like the guy who’s scared out of his mind to the disbeliever. Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but it’s not so terrible you can’t sit through it. If anything, it makes the whole thing a lot more fun.

Of course since it’s Jackson there’s a lot of dancing involved and as always it’s amazing. He and the rest of the ghoulish back up dancers do a great job pulling off moves that keep you captivated. If you watch closely there are several nods to “Thriller,” which is a clever way to address those who insist on intently comparing the two. There’s also a reference to “Bad” during the performance of “2 Bad” where the music follows the same beat as the former song. It’s small, but it’s a cool throwback to his part material. In this film Jackson plays a sassier version of himself. For some reason, he keeps saying “Hello?!” like a valley girl, as if he just discovered the phrase. It’s a little weird, but cute; it makes me laugh all the time. He’s also mischievous as he starts off playing innocent tricks on the townspeople that slowly turn more sinister.

What I find interesting are the methods Jackson uses to convince people he’s not a bad person. It starts off well and good with the funny faces and dancing. But then he summons ghosts from the walls of his house. The townspeople are shitting themselves, but Jackson shows it’s all good when the music plays out of nowhere and dancing resumes. But with the snap of his fingers the ghouls turn down right evil as they look more demonic and start terrorizing the mayor. This is the point where Jackson peels off his clothes and is nothing but a skeleton. How are the townspeople doing? They’re still pretty entertained. After a while Jackson turns into some sort of goo and goes inside the mayor to fuck with him some more. He then makes the mayor start dancing involuntarily and right before the mayor leaves he gives him one final spook with a giant demonic head. He scared the mayor so bad he jumps out the window. The townspeople then decides Jackson isn’t so bad after all. So you see that this guy is clearly not human and your response is your dancing was pretty neat? I’m pretty sure he has the ability to kill people, but they’re like it’s all fun and games. It’s just something I couldn’t stop thinking about while watching.

Since this came out when CG effects were just getting started, some of the special effects haven’t aged that well. There are moments where you can tell which portions are a green screen, but they don’t look horrible. While the image of a skeleton doing the moonwalk isn’t as impressive as it was in 1997, it’s still a cool idea. What is breath taking is the makeup. In the film, Jackson not only plays himself, but also the town mayor. The makeup is so convincing you wouldn’t think it was Jackson until he starts dancing in the fat suit, which is hilarious to watch. There’s also a part where the King of Pop turns into a weird, tall demon. The image is a little startling just because he towers over everyone else in the room. Plus, considering this was made in the late ’90s some of the effects are still great, like Jackson removing his face as if it were a mask to reveal his skull. That’s normal, right?

For the most part the film is a bit funny and thrilling, but there’s also a disturbing sub-text involve. All throughout the mayor keeps calling Jackson a freak and says there aren’t room for freaks in town. Jackson gets so fed up at one point he decides to leave by breaking his face. I’m not kidding. He gets down on his knees and slams his face on the floor. He then tilts his head up and shows his crumbling face to the crowd. This part is so unsettling due to what was happening in Jackson’s life at the time. He was still dealing with the accusations and the media constantly hounding him, calling him names like “Wacko Jacko.” It’s as if he was trying to tell people he was falling apart and it’s because people wouldn’t leave him alone. It’s a subtle, but chilling image and one that intensifies after his death.

Overall, the film gets 9/10. It’s not perfect, but it sure is a lot of fun. As always, Jackson goes above and beyond for this short film. The dancing is amazing as always and the makeup still looks convincing years later. Some of the special effects haven’t aged that well, but it adds to the charm of the film. It may not have the same scares that “Thriller” has, but it’s a cool Halloween treat from Jackson all fans should check out this time of year. Think of it as Jackson’s way of saying “Happy Halloween.”

5_The_Gray_Chapter_ArtworkRelease Year: 2014

Rating: 9/10

The loss of a member is devastating to a band. Losing two usually marks the end, but Slipknot saw through the trying time to deliver one of their strongest albums yet. With the heaviness of Iowa and the melodic nature of All Hope is Gone, the band burns through fourteen songs filled with their anger, sadness, devastation, and exhaustion of the last couple of years. Slipknot have regained their passion for music. Unfortunately, it came out of a tragedy.

Slipknot’s 2008 release is the black sheep in their catalog. Many noted it was a move away from their nu-metal roots to a more standard metal sound with lots of melodic elements. Fans were split on the release and turns out the band didn’t like it very much either. If anything, it sounds like they released the album because it was time for new music, not because they wanted to. That isn’t the case this time around. The band is obviously full of passion and fire, despite losing two members. You can easily hear it on tracks like “The Negative One” and “Nomadic.” It’s as if they’re ready to share their feelings with the world and fans are in for one hell of a ride.

The unnerving “XIX” sets the ominous and dark tone for the album, especially with the humming bagpipes that give you goosebumps. Corey Taylor sounds wounded and vulnerable as he sings “With my face/against the floor/ I can’t see who knocked me out of the way,” hinting at how painful the rest of the record is going to be. He then cries “Walk with me/walk with me/don’t let this fucking world tear you apart.” It’s a brief track, but one that lets fans know what they’re in for. “Sarcastrophe” is one of the many songs that has the brutality found on their second release. It has a slow, concentrated opening before punching you in face with squealing guitars and pounding drums. The heavy aggression continues on the excellent “AOV” that boasts a chugging guitar riff and rolling drums. Taylor’s always been a talented singer, but he sounds downright venomous as he spits “kill myself/fuck myself/or tell myself/about the only thing that matters now.” He then balances his growls with his soft, melodic vocals mixing the light with the dark. Both are great tracks showing the band getting reacquainted with their roots.

The Devil in I” is another great song that uses both of Taylor’s vocal styles. The way the music comes rushing at you sounding gritty and dirty, you don’t expect any softness until you hear the verses. What’s great about it is the music slows down with Taylor, slowly building back up, and explodes during the choruses. After hearing all the aggression on the other tracks it may take a bit to grow on you, but you can’t forget it once it does. “Killpop” stands out on the most on the album because it’s the lightest song here. It’s more melodic, but it doesn’t make it any less dark. The lyrics paint a disturbing picture as Taylor sings “Maybe I should let her go/but only when she loves me” hinting that she’s being held against her will. It gets even worse later when he screams “Now die and fucking love me” as everything reaches its breaking point. “Custer” has to be one of the heaviest songs on the album, whose subject is reminiscent of “People = Shit.” What makes it so notable is the violent chorus of “cut cut cut me up/fuck fuck fuck me up.” It’s so fucking intense you’re ready to go to war with them.

A lot of the album revolves around the 2010 death of Paul Gray, expressing their confusion, anger, and sadness for his loss. Some of the tracks are directly aimed at him like “Skeptic,” where the band talk about how much they miss him and how their world is smaller without him around. What’s great about the song is it’s them saying how much they love Gray in their own way. It’s not sappy or cheesy; it fucking rocks and it’s probably what Gray would’ve wanted. They tone down on “Goodbye,” which sounds like a eulogy for his death. While it’s the softest song on the record it doesn’t keep the pace for long as the music gets heavier and more upfront, but it never loses focus. Hearing these songs let’s you know just how painful his death was and how they’ll never forget him.

Aside from the songs mentioned above, there are other slow moments on the album in the forms of “The One that Kills the Least” and “If Rain is What You Want.” Slipknot has never been shy about making low key songs, but on their last album they made ballads that grew dull after a while. Here, the slower tracks are similar to those found on their earlier LPs: brooding, dark, but still heavy as fuck, especially the latter song. It begins with an ominous riff that sets up a haunting mood. Midway through, the music can’t contain itself and burst into madness and aggression. Everything sounds as if they’re exhausted with their feelings and are squeezing every last drop of frustration out of them. This way the songs are never dull and keeps the listener on their toes.

Overall, the album gets 9/10. The album is stellar and finds the band returning to their heavier sound, which fans have been craving for a long time. They’re out to show people they still have the passion and heart for music despite losing two key members. Several of the songs reference what they’ve been going through since 2010 and you can hear how they’re still affected by it in the heaviness and brutality of the music. Not only do they honor Paul Gray, they show the world Slipknot can’t be beaten down that easily.

It’s that time of year where you engorge yourself on candy while being scared silly. That’s right, it’s Halloween! Parties will start this weekend and that means you need a killer playlist. That’s why I’m here to help. It turns out lots of artists love to talk about Halloween. They either make songs directly about the holiday itself or they embody the spirit of it. Either way they’re perfect for getting you in the spooky mood. While there are lots of songs out there that talk about things that go bump in the night, here are some of the best and most essential for your Halloween playlist.

This is Halloween – Marilyn Manson

When The Nightmare Before Christmas was re-released, many artists were called in to cover the movie’s superb soundtrack. While some of the picks were questionable, they got it right when it came to Marilyn Manson covering the film’s iconic song. Manson already has the reputation of being a creepy guy, so it makes sense he would have something to do with the project. For his version, Manson keeps some of the whimsy of the original with some harsh guitars added in for an edge. Manson sounds creepy and haunting as he sings “I am the one hiding under your bed/teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red.” What’s even better is he uses different voices for each part from unnerving falsetto to an eerie low register. It’s an essential song for the season and it’s even better with the Mason touch.

Spookshow Baby – Rob Zombie

Honestly, all of Rob Zombie’s albums would be appropriate for this list, but this is one of his best for Halloween. The music starts out with Middle Eastern inspired guitars before launching into the heavy hitting sound Zombie has become known for. He sounds like he’s growling as he talks about the Devilman, voodoo spells, and psycho activity all happening in the light of the dead moon. The way he sounds threatening as he shouts “She’s a killer!/She’s a thriller!/Spookshow baby!” makes you feel he’s around the corner ready to strike. It’s a great song that captures the chilling and uneasy spirit of Halloween.

Lullaby – The Cure

Don’t expect to find any comfort in this song, especially if you hate spiders. If there’s anything worse than coming across a spider it’s getting eaten by one, which is what Robert Smith describes in this eerie song. Here, he talks about a creature who goes by the name “Spider Man,” no relation to the comic book hero, who creeps into your room and devours you. Though the single is 25 years old, it’s still effective with the creeping piano riff that sounds like a spider stalking across the floor and Smith singing just a hair above a whisper. It’s a Cure classic that still freaks out fans today along with the chilling video.

Thriller – Michael Jackson

When the King of Pop sat down to write this song, he didn’t know he was going to create the perfect track for Halloween. Zombies, night creatures, demons, Vincent Price’s menacing laugh. What else could you ask for in a song named “Thriller?” Michael Jackson wasn’t the scariest guy around, but he sure knew how to make everyone shudder when it came to this classic track. He talks about the things that go bump in the night while an infectious rhythm snakes around encouraging everyone to pull off their best scary bear. Of course, you can’t talk about this song with mentioning the epic video, which is a mini-horror movie in itself. Jackson goes from werewolf to zombie to dancing superstar in a matter of minutes. Thanks to the Rick Baker special effects, the short film still gives you chills today.

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

Whether you’ve seen this movie fifty times or zero, you can’t deny how catchy this song is. Yes, it’s pretty cheesy. Yes, it wound up being Paker’s only hit. But admit it, you love yelling out “Who ya gonna call?/ Ghostbusters!” whenever the song comes on. The best part is when Parker gets cocky and reassures the listener that he “ain’t afraid of no ghost.” The high pitched squealing riff puts the icing on top of this spooktacular cake. (I’m sorry. I won’t say that again). This is the type of song that could only come out of the ’80s with it’s big synth style and novelty that has yet to wear off. My question is whose going to cover the song for the new movie?

Halloween – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Siouxsie Sioux sounds like a howling ghost on this song dedicated to the creepy holiday. As you dive into the lyrics you find out it’s not all treats and sweets with lyrics like “A sweet reminder in the ice-blue nursery/Of a childish murder of hidden luster and she cries.” Even though the chorus consists of the word “Halloween” being repeated over and over, the track takes a dark turn. It’s actually about the loss of innocence, which gives it a bleak outlook. Still, the stark music and shrieking guitars matches the dark, chilly nights of knocking on strangers’ doors and asking for candy. Isn’t this what our parents warned us about when we were little?

(Every Day is) Halloween – Ministry

This early Ministry track doesn’t have much to do with Halloween, but it’s so aptly named it feels wrong not to have it on this list. It actually talks about people who dress differently, usually punk or goth, the weird stares they get, and the comment that they look like they’re ready for Halloween. The overall message is we’re all the same; why should I be treated any differently because our fashion sense are not the same? It’s a message that can still be applied to today’s society. Still, it’s one of the band’s most notable songs mainly for the catchy music and the irresistible hook of “mmbop-bop-bop.” It’s one of those things you can’t help singing out loud. And really, would it be so bad if every day was Halloween? Think of all the candy!

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus

Often credited as the first goth rock record to be released, this 1979 track talks about the death of actor Bela Lugosi, who was known for his portrayal in the 1931 film adaptation of Dracula. The track is down right haunting with its dark references to bleeding victims and brides mourning the death of their vampire leader. Not to mention Peter Murphy’s eerie voice resonates throughout the entire song making your skin crawl. The music is also perfectly creepy with an ominous bass line, stark riffs that grow louder and more violent as the song goes on, and the steady ticking of the drums that sound like an old rusty clock. Just listening to it you can picture an abandoned cemetery where bats gather on the trees and the owl’s hoot echos in the night sky. With the different musical changes and vocal embellishments, you won’t mind that it’s over nine minutes long. It’s an essential track for alternative and goth rock and the one Bauhaus has gone down in music history for.

I Walked With a Zombie – Wednesday 13

Wednesday 13 is b-horror movies personified. He takes his love of horror films and channels it into his music, similar to Rob Zombie. All his songs have references to the supernatural and scary movies. His entire catalog would be appropriate for Halloween, but this is one his most popular songs. It’s pretty clear from the title what this horror-punk track is about meaning it’s perfect for all the zombie fanatics out there. Inspired by the film of the same name, the music comes rushing at you and is made for moshing. The way 13 sings “I walked with a zombie/zombie/zombie” is pretty damn catchy. Just imagine a whole group of zombie’s slam dancing to this song.  It’s fun, a bit silly, and perfect for Halloween.

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

This song is the epitome of hellfire and damnation. As soon as you hear the tolling church bells and the violent rainstorm at the beginning you know things aren’t going to end well. Everything about the song is haunting from Iommi’s trembling riff, to the lyrics that talk about “the figure in black” with burning eyes, to Ozzy’s anguished cried of “Oh no/no/please god help me.” It’s the perfect fit for any eerie night or haunted house. To make things even more chilling, the track is based on an actual experience that Geezer Butler told Ozzy. Apparently, Butler painted his apartment black, hung up crucifixes, and pictures of Satan on the walls. He the read a book on witchcraft and went to bed. When he woke up he saw a big black figure standing by his bed and the book was gone. The lesson here: don’t mess with Satan or his books on witchcraft.

Pet Sematary – The Ramones

Recorded for the Stephen King movie of the same name, this Ramone’s song talks about the cursed titular cemetery that brings back your loved ones, but not the way you remembered them. The band are at least smart about it as they sing “I don’t want to be buried/in a pet sematary/I don’t want to live my life again.” The rest of the song does a great job painting the picture of the creepy graveyard with the cold wind blowing and wolves howling at the moon. What’s great is the music still has their brand of punk rock and as with most of their songs, it’s catchy. You’ll find yourself singing it before it ends. It may not be the creepiest song on the list, but it does capture the Halloween mood well. Plus, it’s the Ramones. What’s not to like about this song?

Dead in Hollywood – Murderdolls

This band comprised of the aforementioned Wednesday 13 and Slipknot’s Joey Jordison talks about the iconic movie monsters on this track. 13 takes his love of all things horror even further on this song as he pays tribute to horror movie villains. He makes sure to name check Frankenstein, Norman Bates, Leatherface, and even famed director Ed Wood while shouting “Cause all my heroes are dead in Hollywood!” Just like 13’s solo material, the Murderdolls also have a number of songs that could be fit for Halloween, such as “B-Movie Scream Queen” and my personal favorite “She Was a Teenage Zombie.” Sadly, the band won’t be making horror filled music anymore since they disbanded in 2011.

Halloween – AFI (Misfits Cover)

Though this spooky song was originally done by the Misfits, I’ve always preferred AFI‘s rendition. Bringing up gruesome images of “Burning bodies hanging from poles,” dead cats, candy apples, and razor blades, the song talks about a violent and destructive Halloween. With gang vocals shouting “Halloweeeen” over and over again paired with Davey Havok’s distinct vocal style makes you want to raise your fist in the air and form a bad ass circle pit. Though the band stays true to the original, the biggest change comes at the end, which adds one minute of eerie scratches and squeals, perfect for a dark Halloween night.

I Put a Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Many artists have covered this song from Marilyn Manson to Nina Simone, but only Screamin’ Jay Hawkins makes it so damn unnerving. With his sinister growls and howls, he commands “I put a spell on you/because you’re mine,” sounding like a real life Oogie Boogie. To add to the creepy factor he peppers the track with his haunting and mischievous laugh, ready to pounce on you at any moment. The song ends with his anguished yelps and hollers as he declares one final time “Oh, you’re mine!” He sounds like a mad man and if you’ve ever seen him perform you’re fully convinced he’s crazy. While Bette Midler and the Hocus Pocus crew did a respectable job with the tune, the original is by far the best.

Mr. Crowley – Ozzy Osbourne

Arguably one of Ozzy’s best songs, this one has a thick Gothic atmosphere that’s essential for Halloween. This is mostly due to the opening that was made for a dark and stormy night. And since it’s based on English occultist Aleister Crowley, there’s bound the be spookiness. Ozzy sounds haunting and in awe as he sings “Mr. Crowley/did you talk to the dead?” and Rhandy Rhoads shows off his skill in the electrifying and trilling guitar solo that finishes off the song. It reinforces the creepy lore surrounding Crowley, yet makes you want to read some of his work.  It’s a classic track that shows why Ozzy is still the Prince of Darkness.

 He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask) – Alice Cooper

A Halloween playlist wouldn’t be complete without Mr. Cooper. This may not be his best song, but the tie in with Friday the 13th was too good to resist. Here, Cooper paints several cliche horror movie scenarios, like a couple swimming in the lake or the couple in the park at night, and talks about how Jason is out to get them. The coolest thing about this song, aside from the single artwork, is how it uses Jason’s iconic “ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma” as part of the musical rhythm. Otherwise, the single is full of 80’s cheese with heavy synthesizer, but it makes it oddly charming.
What are your favorite Halloween related songs? Let me know in the comments and have a Happy Halloween!

Rob_Zombie_Educated_HorsesRelease Year: 2006

Rating: 7/10

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know I hate this album. I’ve given it several tries and I can never get into it. So what made me actually sit down to review it? Since it’s Halloween, it’s natural to want to hear some Rob Zombie and I already covered his most popular albums. After hearing this one from top to bottom, my opinion really hasn’t changed. It’s not as bad as I once thought, but it’s nowhere near his earlier and best material.

Things actually start out on the right foot with the brief instrumental “Sawdust in Blood.” As soon as it starts pounding drums that sound like gun shots hit you in the face. It keeps thumping and banging until the soft, somber piano comes in. It’s an interesting contrast to the fierce, heavy music that greeted listeners when the track started. All of this makes it sound like a perfect fit for a gloomy horror movie, like The Conjuring. Next comes the best song on the LP “American Witch.” This is the track longtime fans will appreciate. Gritty, heavy guitars comes chugging at you, thanks to John 5’s stellar work and since it’s about the Salem witch trials, it has that classic Zombie horror feeling. It’s supernatural with a hint of psychedelic he would go on to explore in his later material. Unfortunately, this is the closet Zombie comes to his established sound.

You begin to notice a change of pace on “Foxy, Foxy.” By no means is it a bad track, but it’s not your classic Rob Zombie song. It has a good groove to it, is really catchy, and has a party vibe that makes it his most accessible single to date. Even his vocals are a little softer; his distinct gruffness is missing. There’s no denying it’s fun to sing “Foxy foxy/what’s it gonna be” with him, but it’s something older fans may not be happy with. From here on things get a little slippery. “17 Year Locust” only stands out for it’s psychedelic, Middle Eastern inspired opening due to the use of the sitar. The rest of the music moves along at a lethargic pace that gets dull after a while. Things also get repetitive with the simple chorus of “17 year locust/if not now when.” It’s not a terrible track, but far from his best.

If there’s one song that catches you off guard it’s “The Scorpion Sleeps.” Even though the lyrics do make references to supernatural and side show images, like “jungle women with wings,” the music is not fitting in the slightest. It’s very upbeat, with a swinging rhythm and a clapping beat. It’s the most unfitting Rob Zombie song ever. What’s even worse is it’s not that interesting, though I did think it was weird the riff sounded similar to Marilyn Manson’s “Disposable Teens.” Tracks like this make the album Zombie’s most experimental, which wouldn’t be a problem if the songs weren’t so dull and didn’t sound alike after a while.

It was around this time Rob Zombie started directing movies and his declining musical output starts here. Ever since his first movie, it seems like he’s trying to balance both forms and isn’t doing a great job with either. This is painfully clear on tracks “Death of It All” and “Devil’s Rejects,” which sound very similar to each other. Both songs are decent enough with some spooky elements, but they get boring after about a minute. The main issue is these songs along with others like “Ride” and “The Lords of Salem” are really slow. Most of them sound like they’re dragging everything out, which wouldn’t be so bad if there was more to break them up. There’s a lack of energetic and intense tracks like “Let it All Bleed Out” here and if there were more of them, the album might not be so bad.

Overall, the album gets 7/10. As I mentioned before, I gave this album several times thinking maybe I was being too harsh on it. After listening to it again, it’s clear I will never like this release. To be fair it’s not terrible, but with similar sounding songs, many of which lack Zombie’s usual energy and intensity, it makes for a so-so record. There are a handful of excellent tracks that are worth your time, but they’re not enough to save the album. Zombie would try to improve his music with further releases and while it’s better, it’s still not hitting the mark he once hit.