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.