B-Movie Horror

Transylvania 90210: Songs of Death, Dying, and the Dead – Wednesday 13

Release Year: 2005

Rating: 7/10

It’s been ten years since Wednesday 13 brought his love of horror movies to the music world. He’s been in multiple bands, including the Murderdolls, but is best known for his solo material. While he just released his eight studio album a few months ago, let’s take a look at his solo debut. His music explores themes of the supernatural, ghouls, zombies, and other horrific creatures. And while he makes it work for a lot of the songs, some of them have the tendency to come off as cheesy, sort of like the movies he loves.

Right from the instrumental intro track “Post Mortum Boredom,” which sounds like it was ripped from an old horror movie, you know you’re in for some horror-punk goodness. “Look What the Bats Dragged In” has a gritty hard rock vibe along with a mix of 80s hair metal, particularly when it comes to the guitar solo. This has all the markings of a Wednesday 13 song: loud music, lots of howls, and lyrics that talk about the dead and dying. While it’s not his strongest track it’s still a good representation of the album. “I Walked with a Zombie” is one of the more well known songs and has a bit of a different vibe. It sounds more like a pop-punk song with the various melodies and a clapping beat. There’s even a part where Wednesday sings “Whoa oh oh oh oh” like he’s in Poison. That’s not to say it makes the song bad; it’s definitely catchy and energetic.

Bad Things” takes influence from 80s glam metal as the singer wishes the most horrible things to happen to his enemy, while “House by the Cemetery” has more of a straight forward heavy metal sound. It mixes schlocky horror sounds like creepy laughter and creaking doors with aggressive and brutal riffs. These two songs are where Wednesday 13 shines. He perfectly mixes his horror-punk vibe in a way that doesn’t sound like he’s trying too hard. The same can’t be said about the track “Haunt Me.” It starts off on a promising note with the creepy carnival music and maniacal laughing. 13 sings in a hushed voice bringing a different style to his vocals that hasn’t been heard before. But the lyrics are too cheesy for their own good. It’s a love song that’s about meeting up on Halloween and being “scared to death.” It tries too hard to bring a creepy element to a love song.

The title track has the same problem. The opening verse sounds like it was written by a 15 year old goth “poet:” “My room came alive, my dog just died, stacked 13 pennies in his eyes/I stared at the wall, it stared back at me/Started to breath and then it started to bleed.” The creepy intent is there, but it doesn’t succeed. Again, it sounds like he’s trying too hard to be disturbing and depressing. Aside from that, the song is pretty weak in general. The lyrics are boring, the music is too slow, and it dulls you before the track is over.

One of the best songs on the LP is “Rot for Me.” Here, 13 returns to the hard rock sound that’s so infectious it lures you in. The way he snarls at the beginning of the hook is viscous, like he’s a dog ready to attack. It’s oddly catchy with its simple, repetitive riff of “Rot for me/my darling.” “I Want You Dead” is another strong track with an “I-hate-you-so-much-I-want-you-to-die” message. This track is full of high energy and speeding guitars that have a punk rock feel. “Buried by Christmas” is a curious entry. As I mentioned on a previous playlist, it’s a great Christmas song, but why does it have to be included on the album? It should’ve been released as a single or b-side. The way it is now it interrupts the flow of the record, unless you’re one of those people who like listening to Christmas songs all year round. Weirdo.

“Elect Death for President” mixes things up a bit in terms of music. It begins with a shuffling vibe similar to Rob Zombie’s “House of 1000 Corpses” before moving into a jazz sound that really throws you off. While it’s confusing at first, especially when the horns come in later, it oddly works with the song. The downside is the chorus, which sounds very similar to “Bad Things.” Though it’s one of the better songs on the album, it crosses the cheesy line once too many times. “The Ghost of Vincent Price” would make any classic horror fan proud. Featuring a creepy theremin, which was a staple in horror music, the singer makes several reference to the later actor’s movies, including House on Haunted Hill and House of Wax. While it’s far from the best track on the record, it’s still better than the closing track “A Bullet Named Christ,” which tries too hard to be gloomy and depressing.

The album was actually better than I thought. There are some strong tracks that will feed your wild, heavy metal side. There are even moments when 13 mixes his horror references with his music delightfully. But there are other times when it comes off as cheesy, forced, and over the top. Maybe this is the point, he is a fan of cheesy b-movies after all, but there are times when it’s too much to handle. Wednesday 13 has fine tuned his craft over the years, but his first solo outing predicted a promising career for the ghoul master.

Spookshow International – Rob Zombie

Release Year: 2015

Rating:  7.5/10

Last year, Rob Zombie released his first concert film. He follows that up this year with his second live album and it only took him eight years to do so. While it’s obviously filler to keep fans quiet until his next LP comes out hopefully later this year, it’s not a bad entry in his discography. The expansive setlist, high energy, and hyper performance put on by Zombie and his band are enough to convince you to see Zombie live for yourself.

Zombie and crew open with “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy” from his 2013 album and while it’s not the most exciting track to start the show, it sets the tone for the rest of the evening. He wastes no time getting straight to the fan favorites with “Superbeast” and “Living Dead Girl,” which is one of many highlights on the record. Other tracks include “Meet the Creeper,” “Never Gonna Stop,” “Pussy Liquor,” and “Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga.” Zombie powers through each song with high energy and lots of attitude. He sounds great and the way he hypes up the crowd comes across really well on the record.

There are 20 songs total and even though Zombie performs them flawlessly, it goes on a little longer than it should. After a while you kind of tune everything out, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you see it. It also doesn’t help that “Thunder Kiss ’65” is stretched out to nine minutes thanks to a lengthy guitar solo from John 5. We get it, you’re super talented. That doesn’t mean you should play guitar in the middle of the song for three minutes. By the time he finishes you forget what song you were listening to in the first place.

What’s interesting to note is how he includes at least one song from each of his albums except Educated Horses. He most likely wanted to give newer songs a chance to shine, plus he covered a lot of those tracks on his first live LP. He does spend a lot of time on his well known hits, like “Dragula,” “More Human Than Human,” and “Demon Speeding,” but he also includes the best songs from his later albums, such as “Jesus Frankenstein,” “Dead City Radio,” which sounds better than the original version, and “Sick Bubblegum.” While these tracks weren’t as huge a success for Zombie, he manages to breathe new life in them making them more exciting than before.

One of the best parts come when Zombie does a rendition of The Ramones’ classic “Blitzkrieg Bop.” He previously covered the song for his 2003 compilation Past, Present, & Future, but this version is more in tune with the original. It sounds more vibrant and energetic than before making it better than his previous attempt. He also performs “We’re An American Band,” a cover from his latest LP, but no matter how much energy and power he puts into it, it doesn’t make me like the song anymore. Along with covers are some small interludes, such as Ginger Fish’s drum solo. Usually, these solos aren’t as exciting or interesting when not in a live setting, but this solo is short enough to enjoy it without it growing dull. It also gives the listener a chance to hear Fish’s talented percussion.

Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. While it wouldn’t be in my all time favorite live albums list, it’s still pretty good. Zombie covers some of his biggest hits while running through the best songs from his later albums. Even though the record runs a little long, Zombie and crew sound awesome and on point throughout the entire thing. It’s still better to see the man in person for yourself, but this LP should hold you over until the next time he hits the road.