Rank the Videos: The Cure 1986-1990 (REDUX)

I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Cure are one of the best bands from the 80’s. Not only is the proof in their amazing songs, but it can also be found in their crazy, cool videos. If you’ve been following long enough, you know I’ve already ranked these videos. But since I’m lucky enough to be seeing the band next month, I wanted to revisit all of their videos. Have my opinions changed? Was I too harsh on one clip? Join me as I once again rank these Cure videos from best to worst. Where will your favorite land?

“Lullaby” (1989)

This is one of The Cure’s best videos and the best part is it still holds up 27 years later. The creepy song has an equally creepy video, which finds Robert Smith being eaten by a giant spider. For added effect, he is also shown covered in webs as this “spider man” who comes to eat people. Smith lays in bed gradually being covered in spider webs and even turns into a weird human spider sprouting several arms and legs. And even though it looks kind of cheesy, when they show Smith on the ceiling like a spider it still creeps me out; maybe because they linger on it longer than they should. Definitely don’t watch if you’re deathly afraid of spiders. Great make up, cool costumes, and one weird looking spider prop all make for an amazing video. Fun fact: originally a spider was supposed to be crawling all over Smith, but he refused since he is afraid of spiders.

“Close to Me (Remix)” (1990)

In 1990, the band released Mixed Up, their only remix album, and it included a new version of their hit “Close to Me.” They decided to film a new video to go along with and it has to be one of best things they’ve done. What makes the clip so ingenious is it continues where the original video left off. We see the wardrobe falling into the sea, then we are taken underwater where Smith and Co. swim out and explore the underwater world. More awesome costumes and weird props, including a trumpet playing octopus out to get Smith make the video odd, but fun. I love the part where they make it look like bubbles are coming out of Smith’s mouth while he’s singing. What makes the video even more charming is that they did this all on a set; no CGI found here. Unfortunately, this clip gets overshadowed by the original, which is also awesome.

“Why Can’t I Be You?” (1987)

This is probably the only time you’ll see The Cure attempting to dance and yes, it’s just as awful as you imagine. At least they tried. This is like a bad fever dream featuring awful dancing, flashing lights, bright colors, and a pair of disembodied lips. The band looks like they raided a Party City for various costumes ranging from vampire to bear. And let’s not forget one of the members imitating Louis Armstrong. Yeah…it’s pretty awkward. Aside from that it’s the silliest video they’ve ever done and it’s amazing. It also shows that it wasn’t all death and depression for the infamous dark band. They knew how to have a good time in the most bizarre way possible. Pope dubs it as the video he always wanted to make. The 12” version of the video features additional footage of the band dancing.

“Never Enough” (1990)

This is another quirky and odd video from the band featuring each member performing in a freak show. Robert Smith does double duty as an overweight woman who keeps flashing her thighs and a Siamese twin with bassist Simon, while Porl plays the bearded lady. Some of the visuals are really cool, such as The Cure looking gigantic while playing on a small stage or when it looks like Smith is hanging over the ocean. There are even some gruesome close ups of Smith in black make up that are kind of creepy when you look at them long enough. It’s videos like this that make you realize The Cure should get more credit for having some of the most creative and innovative music videos of the 80’s and 90’s.

“A Night Like This” (1986)

Even though this song got the video treatment, it was never officially released as a single, which is a shame because it’s one of their best. Unlike their previous videos, there’s nothing whimsical here. It’s mainly the band standing there playing the song looking morose, but what makes it stand out is how it seems to be running backwards. The band’s movement is very slow and spastic; Smith looks like he has no control over his arms at times. Also, rather than the camera zooming in on the group, it’s constantly moving away from them, something you don’t see very often. It’s a video that’s easy to miss, but it’s still one of their better clips.

“Just Like Heaven” (1987)

If you don’t know The Cure, you’ve at least heard this song. It’s still their most popular and most accessible single. The video is pretty memorable with the band back at Beachy Head, the cliff where they “fell off” in their previous video “Close to Me.” The video marks the only appearance of Smith’s long term wife Mary Poole; she’s the one who comes out and dances with him during the dreamy sequence. This is probably what The Cure will always be known for, but you can’t complain; it’s a great song. The clip is simple, yet beautifully shot. Though the band are wearing all black, they somehow manage to stand out against the sky backdrop.

“Boys Don’t Cry” (1986)

The whole idea for this video is actually really cute. Even though the video was released in 1986, the song was first recorded in 1979 for their debut album when the band was a trio, which is how they’re depicted here. They even went so far as to get their original bassist Michael Dempsy for the shoot. What makes the clip so adorable is that there are three young lads representing members of the band, while the members dance around as silhouettes. It gets kind of creepy at the end when the silhouettes of the members suddenly sport glowing red eyes. It doesn’t sound like it should be that scary, but it’s actually quite disturbing.

“Catch” (1987)

This is probably one of my favorite Cure songs, even though it doesn’t seem to get that much attention. Something about it is so relaxing and pretty. That might’ve been the vibe they were after with the video. There isn’t action or whimsy here. It’s only the band at the beach enjoying the beautiful scenery. And Lol walking around pretending he knows how to play the violin. It has to be one of the most unremarkable Cure clips out there. It’s almost surprising to learn that Tim Pope directed this one too, since his videos seem to find the band in odd situations and costumes. Though nothing much goes on, it’s still an enjoyable video for the beautiful outdoor shots.

“Lovesong” (1989)

This video is kind of awkward since the band are surrounded by phallic cave formations and yes, they look phallic on purpose (thanks Tim Pope). The opening shot is clearly a dick. It’s just hard to watch at times. No wonder the guys look uncomfortable sitting there. Smith looks like he wants to disappear as he curls up in a ball while Simon looks at the scene very disapprovingly. Smith originally wrote the song for his wife as her wedding present, but it must be hard to sing it when surrounded by a cave full of dicks. No joke, the director said he wanted to show the raw sexual power of the band. Is that really something you think of when you think of The Cure? I didn’t think so either.

“Hot Hot Hot!!!” (1988)

If this video is notable for anything it’s Robert Smith’s lack of hair. This is around the time where he decided to practically cut it all off and needless to say Cureheads were shocked by Smith’s new look. Weird ass puppets, awkward dancing, and “dwarf” versions of the band are all found in this chaotic and confusing clip. It’s not a boring video, but it’s not that memorable. The same can be said about the song. The clip is just weird and Smith’s embellished singing is hard to stomach. If you ever wondered what The Cure would sound like as a weird funk, Jazz band then check out this video; yes the results are as disjointed and awkward as you think. Why did they think the video, let alone the song, was a good idea? Probably drugs. Believe it or not there’s a 12” version that features more head scratching footage.

“Fascination Street” (1989)

The video for the US only single originally had a cool concept involving time travel and Doctor Who references. But due to time constraints and not being sure if American audiences would understand the concept, they settled for the band playing their instruments with some hazy effects over them. A part of the original idea is seen during the beginning; there is a police box shown much like the one used for the Tardis in Doctor Who. It’s a shame that such a great song got a mediocre video.

“Pictures of You” (1990)

This is another video I’ve always found disappointing. This is one of the songs that made me fall in love with the band, so it’s sad that the video is kind of boring. The set up is actually pretty cute: the band performs in a winter snowstorm in Scotland surrounded by palm trees and beach toys. There’s nothing else to it. Sure, it looks like they’re having a great time and Smith looks amazing in it, but there’s nothing about it to hold your attention til the end. It’s one I’d rather skip.

“Killing an Arab” (1986)

This seems to be the band’s artsy video. It doesn’t feature them at all, rather just an elderly man walking around a village until he reaches the sea. It actually looks like the same guy on their greatest hits album cover. The video seems to take inspiration from The Stranger by Albert Camus, which is what the song is based on (not the actual killing of Arabs). Beside from that, nothing else happens. It’s kind of bland and boring, especially when compared to their later videos. But it is appropriate for the song. This clip can only be found on their 1986 video collection Staring at the Sea: the Images. The Cure have since re-named the song “Killing Another,” because they were tired of the constant racist accusations.

“Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (1986)

This is a great song from their debut album, but the video is nothing but train tracks sped up from the point of view of the train. I guess it’s an interesting idea, but that’s all that happens. The band isn’t in it and it’s not like the train crashes at the end or anything like that. It basically goes from one stop to the next. The video wasn’t even released along with the single in 1979. Rather, it was specifically made for their first video collection, Staring At the Sea: the Images. It’s interesting to see at least, but it’s not something that you would watch again and it’s definitely not memorable.

Metallica (The Black Album) – Metallica

Release Year: 1991

Rating: 9.5/10

By the late 80s, Metallica was one of the most successful thrash metal bands on the scene. With Master of Puppets being one of their bestselling albums, no one thought they could top it. Then the Black Album happened. This is the record that launched the band from thrash cult heroes to heavy metal superstars. Not only was it met with critical acclaim, there was also backlash and anger. But whatever your feelings are on the album you can’t deny how it’s changed both the band and heavy metal.

But before we get into what makes the album so different, we have to talk about “Enter Sandman,” still one of Metallica’s best songs. Everything about it is a beast from James Hetfield’s singing to the iconic guitar riff. Thanks to its memorable chorus and more rock oriented sound, the song caught a commercial following, which sparked many to cry “sell outs.” But you can’t deny how fucking awesome the song is. It starts with the sparse riff while the rest of the music builds up around it, leaving listeners anticipating for the big explosion. And when it happens it’s so satisfying. The lyrics are also notable as they take sleep, which is supposed to be comforting, and turn it into a nightmare. Even the sandman, who is supposed to an innocent fairy tale, turns into a monster you don’t want to meet. It’s not only one of the band’s best songs, it’s one of the best heavy metal songs ever.

Prior to this record, the band was known for playing fast and having extended solos. For this release, they slow things down. “Sad But True” is still a ferocious, intense track, but compared to their past efforts it’s pretty slow. The guitars grind along while the rest of the music is sludgy. The same goes for the anthemic “Wherever I May Roam.” It starts what sounds like a sitar setting this ominous air before being taken over by guitars building on top of one another. Things finally speed up only to slow down again when James Hetfield growls”…and the road becomes my bride.” But perhaps the biggest change comes in all the ballads on the album.

The band previously tackled ballads with songs like “One” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” but they’re completely redone here. The somber “The Unforgiven” features soft vocals from Hetfield as if he’s singing from a broken place. And while there are moments where the music gets heavy during the verses, much of it sounds like light classical guitar playing. It’s almost…pretty, which you don’t expect from a Metallica song. But the most genre defying song on the record is the heartbreaking “Nothing Else Matters.” By incorporating stringed instruments and an orchestral sound, Metallica were taking a giant risk with this track. Even the guitars are light sounding like something from a lullaby. With these two unlikely genres successfully coming together, there’s a dramatic vibe that grows as the song continues. It’s a sentimental track about Hetfield missing his girlfriend that he never intended to release publicly. Right from the line “never opened myself this way” you know Hetfield is speaking from somewhere private and personal. Thankfully Lars Ulrich got Hetfield to change his mind about the song; it’s a stand out track on an already stellar album.

Not only is the album notable for its shift in music, it’s also their most personal. For many of the songs, Hetfield and Ulrich turned inward for inspiration. There’s the aforementioned “Nothing Else Matters” about missing a loved one, but there’s also the brutal track “The God That Failed.” The song is already intense and heavy with Hetfield’s vocal delivery and the music, but the song gets even darker when its story is revealed. The song is about Hetfield’s mother dying of cancer and not seeking medical relief due to her Christian Science beliefs. Suddenly, his anger and spitfire venom makes sense. He’s criticizing a religious system and how it wasn’t there for her in the end though she devoted her life to it. This gives the aggressive track a deeper meaning, yet is still depressing giving listeners insight to what the frontman was going through at the time. It’s a powerful track both musically and lyrically.

Even though this album shows Metallica heading in a different musical direction, there are still some elements of thrash metal here. “Through the Never” starts with guitars that race out of the gate and dares listeners to keep up with them. Everything about the song is heart pumping and in your face, which is often when Metallica are at their best. “The Struggle Within” follows a similar route with speeding guitars and lots of energy. It ends the album on a fiery note as if to say the band hasn’t forgotten where they came from.

There’s no question Metallica changed with this album and some would say for the worse looking at their output after this release. Yet, it’s still an amazing record that showed Metallica could do more than just play fast and loud. They may have moved away from their thrash roots, but they expanded both as songwriters and musicians. And they did a damn good job of it. Every song on the record feels like it has a purpose. Even if its a ballad, it still has the intensity and fire that made them so viscous. They were still angry, but they were also vulnerable and wounded something we rarely saw before. They grew as musicians, took risks, and made an album they were happy with. Looking back at it, the changes they made no longer seem drastic. Many metal bands vary their sound and it seems Metallica paved the way for that. No matter your feelings about the album, it’s still one of the best in metal history.

Soaked in Bleach (2015)

Release Year: 2015

Rating: 7/10

Ever since his death in 1994, theories have been roaming that Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was actually murdered by wife Courtney Love. There have been several books and films stating the case for why Cobain’s death wasn’t actually a suicide. People have been begging the Seattle police department to reopen the case for years with no success. This conspiracy has divided the Nirvana community with some believing Cobain was murdered while others are willing to accept the suicide. Just when it seemed like the murder theory was something that only lived on in forums, Benjamin Statler’s Soaked in Bleach came out last year.

The film begins with the main points of how Cobain’s death was a murder: the lethal heroin injection, the weird suicide note, and Courtney Love hiding things from private investigator Tom Grant. Admittedly, some of it is convincing but it seems like it’s trying to rile up viewers from the get go. One weird thing about the film are the reenactments of conversations between Love and Grant. The acting isn’t terrible, but it’s kind of bizarre. You don’t start the film expecting to see people calling themselves Kurt and Courtney. It makes you think of America’s Most Wanted. The reenactments are sometimes accompanied by actual audio recordings from Grant. At one point when he and Cobain’s friend Dylan Carson are walking around the house, Grant remarks how there’s some weird statue in the closet only to have the reenactment show a horrible replica of the In Utero angel. It’s one of those moments that makes you question if it was necessary.

There’s a point where Stalter interviews Cobain’s former “friends” and even Aaron Buckhard about what type of guy he was. And all of them say the same thing: he didn’t seem suicidal or he wasn’t depressed. He seemed like a happy guy. The film presents these opinions as if to say “See? He was happy, so he couldn’t have killed himself.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that Cobain was neither of those things. Suicide and depression can be hidden quite well. Look at the case with Robin Williams. We can’t go by stereotypical notions of what someone who is depressed or suicidal looks like. So having a bunch of people, who probably didn’t know Cobain that well, say he was really happy doesn’t do anything for the murder case. It’s also an unhealthy view on what depressed or suicidal people look like.

Whether you believe in the murder theory or not, the film does have some credit by getting field experts to voice their opinions, though they all side with Statler. There are testimonies from forensics experts, handwriting experts, the former head of Seattle police, and even an EMT who was on the scene of Cobain’s death in 1994. The insights they provide, such as what they found weird or what the Seattle police department did wrong, are interesting and do make you think twice about what we know about Cobain’s death, which is very little. Not only this, but the taped conversations are fascinating, especially ones featuring the Cobain’s lawyer Rosemary Carroll. She expresses her doubts about the suicide note and how Dylan Carlson knew Kurt was dead. She has since later gone on the record to deny all of this. It makes you wonder what else she knows about the case.

Other than this, there is very little new information here. A lot of the evidence that’s been used to prove Cobain’s death was a murder has already been recounted in books Who Killed Kurt Cobain? and Love & Death. Fans who believe in the murder theory will find very little new information here. Rather, they’ll be reminded of why the theory seems convincing at times. As with most films, especially ones about famous figures, you can’t trust everything being said. And it’s most likely the case some of the events and information were dramatized to amp up the entertainment factor. Still, the film will be interesting for anyone with a passing interest in the conspiracy theory. Will it sway non-believers? Probably not. But it’s at least a decently made documentary that only adds to the Cobain myth.

Playlist: Give ’em the remix

Remixes can be tricky to handle. In the wrong hands it can sound nothing like the source material it’ll put off listeners. Other times it sounds too much like the original making it pointless. But when done just right, a remix can turn a great song into an even better one. Whether it speeds things up to make it a dance hit or slows things down to place it in a new genre, there are a lot of remixes out there way too many to gather in this list. So this month’s playlist takes a look at some of my favorite remixes.

“19-2000” (Soulchild Remix) – Gorillaz

This is a remix of the Gorillaz’ second single and it’s much better than the original. Known for its simple hook of “got the cool shoe shine,” the version from the band’s debut album was very slow featuring sleepy music, lush beats, and very light percussion. The song got most exciting during the aforementioned hook. It’s not bad, but it sounds like the band are on the verge of drifting off while singing. But this remix by Soulchild wakes up the song, turning it into something fun, bouncy, and energetic. You can even hear bits of “The Humpty Dance” in the mix. Everything about it outshines the original and turns it into something you can’t stop dancing to.

“Heartbreaker (Remix)” – Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker” was already a success reaching the top spot on several charts. But the song blew up more when she dropped the remix in 1999. Featuring DJ Clue, Da Brat, and Missy Elliot this remix turns the Carey pop hit into an R&B/hip hop infused jam. Using a sample from Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun (If Homies Can’t Have None)” the song is catchier than before with Carey singing even more breathless than she did in the original. It’s sleek and just the right amount of funky making it one hundred times cooler than original. The song was so successful Carey continued doing remixes for singles, like “Loverboy,” but it didn’t match the success of this one.

“Ignition (Remix)” – R. Kelly

I’ve never been a fan of R. Kelly, but even I have to admit this song is too damn catchy to hate. The song became so popular, charting at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, that it’s hard to remember what the original sounded like. Whereas the original was a slowjam meant to put someone in the mood, this one is all about partying. What really makes the song is irresistible hook. It’s one of those songs where you’ll know all the words after only hearing it three times. Apparently, the original version of the song was going to be on his then upcoming album Loveland, but the album was leaked causing R. Kelly to rewrite and remix most of the album and turn it into The Chocolate Factory. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

“The Way I Am (Remix)” – Eminem Feat. Marilyn Manson

In the late 90s/early 00s the two biggest controversial figures in music were Eminem and Marilyn Manson. Surprisingly, the two formed a friendship with Manson appearing at the rapper’s concerts and even making a cameo in the original “The Way I Am” video. This remix brings the world of rap and rock together. Eminem spits rhymes over the crunchy guitars and intense rock music taken straight from a Manson song. The music perfectly captures Manson’s creepy essence. To make things even better Manson sings the hook in his gravely voice. He also provides some eerie moans throughout the track. It’s a stellar remix that makes you wish the two continue working together. Maybe on the next album? We can only hope.

“Rock With You (Frankie Knuckles Favorite Club Mix)” – Michael Jackson

This mix takes this Michael Jackson hit and turns it into something you can actually dance to. Frankie Kunckles keeps the smooth R&B vibe of the original for the most part. He layers glistening pianos, some synth, and upbeat percussion on top of the track to get you grooving. There are even some further vocal arrangements from Jackson that aren’t found in the original. Clocking in at over seven minutes, it’s definitely something made with the club scene in mind, but the remix is so good you won’t find a problem jamming out to it in your house. The remix is actually quite popular and is often the basis of many Michael Jackson mash ups, which also prove to be great fun.

“Rope (Deadmau5 Mix)” – Foo Fighters

Deadmau5 flips this song on its head switching it from hard rock to an electronica dance hit. It’s not just a DJ adding some synths and bleeps over the Foo Fighters hit. He turns it into a completely different song only keeping Dave Grohl’s vocals in tact. It sounds like an unlikely pairing, but it works so well, breathing new life into this Foo Fighters song. With dripping bleeps, a pulsing beat, and wild music Deadmau5 makes the song his own. The two even joined forces to perform the track on the 54th Grammy Awards.

“More Human Than Human (Meet Bambi in the King’s Harem Mix)” – White Zombie

Rob Zombie never shies away from remixing his biggest hits, but this is the strongest remix to date. “More Human Than Human” was already a beast of a song, but this version makes it a hundred times creepier. The music is grittier, sounding like a record got scratched in the mix during the intense opening and Zombie’s vocals are distorted to sound more robotic and inhuman, which is a perfect fit for the song. The whining guitar riff of the original is still in tact, but the rest of the music is heavy, dirty electronic music that gets you groovin’. This does everything a good remix is supposed to do: keep elements of the original intact, but build on to make it better.

“No, No, No Pt.2” feat Wyclef Jean – Destiny’s Child

Before “Survivor” and “Say My Name” this was most people’s introduction to Destiny’s Child and Beyonce. When the song dropped in 1998, it received massive radio airplay and eventually reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100. But what about part one? The first version of the song, which was their debut single, is a slow R&B track that’s more sensual in nature. Think of it as a song to get busy to. Though it was moderately successful, it wasn’t until Wyclef Jean added an upbeat hip hop flavor and sped up the song that it became a hit. Listening to them both today, this version is still better than the original.

“Strangelove (Tim Simenon, Mark Saunders Remix)” – Depeche Mode

There are various remixes of this Depeche Mode single, but this one is among the best. This mix takes the mid-tempo song and turns it into a club hit. The music is more energetic and fast paced with additional synth and electronica elements added to the mix. There’s even a bit of a tribal vibe when the percussion kicks up. But one of the coolest things about the song is how there’s a nod to their song “People Are People.” It’s brief, but very satisfying for all Mode fans. It’s a great remix that plays around with the classic track, but still keeps everything that made it so good in the first place in tact.

“I”m Real” (Murder Remix) – Jennifer Lopez ft. Ja-Rule

Remember that time during the 2000s when Ja-Rule was popular and was featured in what felt like every song? Before he disappeared off the map, he joined forces with J.Lo for this slick remix of her pop single “I’m Real.” Whereas the original was a generic dance song with rapid beats and a forgettable chorus, this mix slows things down making way for a cool R&B/Hip Hop groove. Even though Ja-Rule’s singing is appalling, it doesn’t ruin the song. The track is from her remix album J to tha L-O! The Remixes and is actually the third best selling remix album of all time. The album also spawned successful singles “I’m Gonna Be All Right” and “Ain’t it Funny.”

“Happiness in Slavery (remix)” – Trent Reznor, Chris Vrenna, and P.K.

Trent Reznor is no stranger to remixes. Not only has he done them for other artists, but he leaves his music in the hands of others spawning several remix albums based off his studio releases. There are two different remixes of “Happiness in Slavery” on the Fixed EP, but this one is the best. It keeps very little from the original track aside from a bit of the guitar riff and Reznor screaming “Slavery!” in the background. Otherwise, the song is completely new and still just as terrifying. Though it’s more gritty and electronic centered than the aggressive original, this version still manages to be terrifying with the intense mechanical music and various screams heard in the background. There are very little lyrics, just a brutal continuation of this awesome NIN track.

“Tourniquet (Prosthetic Dance Mix)” – Marilyn Manson

This version of Marilyn Manson’s “Tourniquet” is very much in tune with the original even opening with the main scratchy riff from the original. This version keeps the same eerie vibe from the original, but amps it up with intense percussion and what sounds like gritty electronic music. Somehow it slows things down even more than the original making it a more drugged out experience. But what’s most notable about this remix is the new vocal take from Manson. He doesn’t unleash his scream on this version and lets his playful, growling vocals take over. It’s definitely the highlight of the forgettable Remix & Repent EP.

Which remix is your favorite? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser – Rob Zombie

Release Year: 2016

Rating: 8.5/10

Rob Zombie’s last few albums have been, well, just okay. Something about them didn’t have that fire and heaviness of his best material. For a while it seemed like he was too distracted to actually focus on music. On his latest, Zombie takes on music with the same venom and spooky nature that made him a staple in heavy metal. Returning to his metal roots and keeping this short and sweet has made this one of Zombie’s strongest albums to date.

The dark, gritty mood is set with the opening track “The Last of the Demons Defeated.” This one is classic Zombie all the way with the creepy noises, sampling, and screaming set against crunchy guitars. Rob Zombie then comes on repeating “Electric Warlock Acid Witch.” It’s a brief track, but it will peak listener’s interest and does give a taste of what’s to come. “Satanic Cyanide! The Killer Rocks On!” oddly enough seems like a throwback to the rocker’s White Zombie days. This track isn’t groovy or lightening fast. Instead it lulls at a slow, dragging pace and everything sounds like it’s caked in mud. It makes you feel drugged and heavy when listening to it. In terms of style and tone, it’s the heaviest on the record. It’s not the strongest song on the album, but it’s pretty decent.

Zombie has never strayed too far from rock music, but in recent years some of his albums have been more hard rock or psychedelic rock oriented. With this record, it seems Zombie wants to get back to his hey-day of supernatural heavy/groove metal. This is plainly heard on the infectious “The Life and Times of a Teenage Rock God.” From the tribal drum opening to Zombie’s growling vocals, everything about it is reminiscent of “Living Dead Girl.” It even has the same flow and style of the song. The track manages to be memorable with the hard music and simple hook of “I’m a teenage rock god,” but you can suspect part of the reason it’s so good is its ties to the successful Zombie single.

Another song that’ll make Zombie fans think back is the kick ass “In the Age of the Consecrated Vampire we All Get High,” which has a similar electric, staticy intro as “More Human Than Human.” But that’s where the comparisons end. The track is everything a Zombie song should be: intense, high energy, kind of eerie, and lots of fun. Aside from this, the songs are more hard edge, dirty, and aggressive than they have been in recent years. Even though the entire track is really strange and somewhat off putting, “Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O.” still has a great start/stop guitar riff that’s hard to resist. Zombie’s country vocal style is strange, but the song grows on you after a while. “Medication For the Melancholy” is an explosion of hard guitars racing towards an end, while Zombie growls through the lyrics. The whole thing is a mass of rapid energy that’ll get listeners moshing wherever they are.

Zombie returns to the psychedelic realm on “The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore,” which begins with a memorable sample of “Wow, you fucking whore.” Unlike the other tracks, which have loud, distorted guitars, this one has more of a groove. The psychedelic vibe comes in with 60s-esque keys blaring. Hearing them makes you picture bikini girls in fringe outfits and go-go boots doing the Watusi. Zombie returns to hard rock on the straight forward and somewhat forgettable “In the Bone Pile.” It’s another hardcore song that’ll get your blood racing, but there’s very little that makes it stand out.

He switches things up slightly on “Get Your Boots On! That’s The End of Rock and Roll,” which has this bouncy, pep rally feel to it similar to Marilyn Manson’s “Fight Song.” This one is upbeat and has a lot of energy and Zombie is infectious when he chants “Gabba gabba hey!” and “Wham bam thank you mam!” This is one that’ll get crowds jumping in unison at live shows. Up until this point that album is a raucous ride of partying with Rob Zombie. It’s not until the final track, “Wurdalak” that we come to a stop. Being the longest track on the LP at over six minutes, it drags on too long. Zombie mumbles his way through it while the music trudges on at a snail’s pace. This gives way to a light, acoustic outro that finishes the song. Again, not terrible, but dull compared to the other songs.

As Rob Zombie explored other outlets in his career, it seemed like music was taking a backseat seeing his last few lackluster albums. But this one shows he’s still got. It gets back to Zombie’s heavy metal, aggressive roots, but never sounds like he’s repeating himself. Most of the songs are wild, upbeat, fun, and just a rocking good time. The songs may be short, but they give you a taste, making you want more until you have to hear the album one more time. This is the best album Zombie has put out in years. He’s clearly not done making us groove yet.

Originally posted on Chicago Music