White Zombie

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

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The Crow: City of Angels OST

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 5.5/10

The soundtrack for the first Crow movie is often hailed as one of the best of not only the 90s, but of all time. It had big name artists from the grunge, rock, and alternative world who knew how to recreate the darkness of the film in music. The same can’t be said about its sequel. The movie was nowhere as good or riveting as the original and the soundtrack matches. With a less than stellar line up and songs that are just meh, it can’t even compare to the previous LP.

Part of what made the first soundtrack great were contributions from The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, and Rage Against the Machine to name a few. If you were hoping for artists of that caliber this time around, then you’ll be disappointed. There are a couple of well known acts, but it’s not enough to save this compilation. Hole’s cover of “Gold Dust Woman” isn’t bad, but as someone who’s not a fan of Hole, it didn’t do much for me. White Zombie’s “I’m Your Boogieman” is one of the standout tracks. Zombie and friends take this lame KC and the Sunshine band song and turn it into something groovy, yet spooky. Rather than waxing about a DJ who gets people dancing, Zombie talks about the Boogieman of your nightmares.

From there the songs aren’t bad, but fade into the background especially if you don’t like the artist. Filter’s “Jurassitol” has a cool opening bass line, but otherwise sounds like a mediocre grunge track. PJ Harvey’s “Naked Cousin” is interesting with its hard gritty vocals, but again doesn’t really do much, at least not for me. At least it’s more memorable than Bush’s cover of the Joy Division track “In a Lonely Place.” It starts off pretty good with the subdued, creepy music, but Gavin Bush’s vocals really kill the track. He’s too quiet and raspy for this type of song. He’s obviously trying to recreate the unnerving feel of the original, but misses the mark. While listening to it, I wished it was the actual Joy Division track the entire time.

Then there are the rap songs. I have nothing against rap and I actually like it when it’s good, but here it feels out of place. The previous soundtrack didn’t have any hip hop tracks; the closest it got was the contribution from Rage Against the Machine. The tracks “Tonight is a Special Night” and the closing number “City of Angels” stick out so bad it feels like a different record. The latter song is especially bad because it was written specially for the movie and has the lamest references jammed in there. Just look at this eye-rolling lyric: “I’m gonna revenge myself/like the crow.” Just in case you forgot what movie this was, Above the Law are going to remind you. And the song doesn’t get any better from there. It’s like one of those theme songs that tries to tell the story of the TV show. Maybe if the rap contributions were actually good it wouldn’t be so bad, but we’re stuck with some pretty shitty songs.

When you’re not listening to sloppy rap songs, you’re hearing second rate grunge acts. When the LP was released in 1996, the grunge phenomenon was pretty much over. The composers of this LP didn’t get the memo and gathered up bands who were still pushing out the music. Again, if the songs were actually any good, who cares what genre it falls in. But all these songs blend together making them forgettable. “Spit” by NY Loose (remember them? Neither do I) isn’t terrible, but ends up sounding like a Hole song, Seven Mary Three’s “Shelf Life” gets boring after the first verse, the Toadies’ “Paper Dress” has the same crunchy guitars and disinterested vocals. “Teething” by Deftones isn’t bad, but it’s definitely one of their rougher songs and sounds a bit disjointed.

One the surprising stand out tracks is “Knock Me Out” by Linda Perry and Grace Slick. The song is really slow and somber, but it’s Perry’s smokey vocals that really makes it come alive. She sounds so lovelorn and distraught as she’s singing. Then comes Grace Slick who has so much fire behind her voice. When put together, they have some of the most powerful harmonies. Their singing matched with the depressing music is enough to make you shed tears. It’s a shame that it’s buried on the album and should’ve been up way higher.

This soundtrack is nowhere near as good as the previous one. There are a couple of decent songs, but most of them are dull, mediocre, and sound too similar to one another. The LP feels disjointed at times especially when it comes to the rap tracks. They’re stuck in the middle and the end of the record which has established itself as being primarily alternative rock oriented. This one didn’t have as many heavy hitting musicians, but the previous entry had its share of unknowns as well. The difference is those bands that you didn’t recognize actually had good fucking songs. Here, they’re just okay. You don’t mind hearing them, but you wouldn’t want to hear them again. For the first soundtrack, every song felt like it belonged. Here, most of it felt like filler with a few stand out tracks. It’s best to steer away from this one.

Astro- Creep 2000: Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Illusions of the Electric Head – White Zombie

Release Year: 1995

Rating: 8/10

White Zombie and its figurehead Rob Zombie, are known for their love of horror movies and generous use of samples. That didn’t change on their fourth and final album. While their earlier efforts focused on their psychedelic, groove metal side, the band takes things in a darker direction here. Elements of their previous sound aren’t totally abandoned, but heavy music and disturbing lyrics take over. Not only is their new direction apparent, but Zombie’s future solo career can also be heard.

Things start off good and creepy on “Electric Head Pt 1 (The Agony).” An ominous creepy sample from the movie The Curse of Frankenstein sets the mood, followed by haunting organ music that sounds like it was made for an old black and white horror film. It amps up the unsettling vibe before the music speeds up. Afterward, everything sounds gritty and dirty, like it’s being dragged through the mud. It still has a really great to mood to, similar to their earlier songs. It’s a great way to start the record and serves as a reminder why the band were so unique.

Super Charger Heaven” speeds things up with the rapid, raw music full of energy. Rob Zombie sounds downright evil as he spits lyrics like “Yeah inbreed the witches /and worship the dogs/Deformed and fuck’n lazy/Damn yourself and choke” and that’s only the beginning of the supernatural references. There’s even some unsettling chanting by the end that completes the horrific feel. Zombie really shows off his witty, visual side with the lyrics painting weird and odd images. “Creature of the Wheel” comes off really slow and heavy. Everything sounds de-tuned, even Zombie’s vocals as he sings in almost a growl. The whole things comes off really dirty and rough. The use of samples here is no different than the others, except that it’s unnerving. Something about the way the crowd drones “Nooo” when asked “does he have the marks?” gets under your skin.

Electric Head Pt 2 (Ecstasy)” is punchier than its counterpart. The music here is energetic and even has a hint of their previous funk/groove infused sound. As soon as you hear it, you can’t help but start moving. Zombie’s future solo career comes through the most on this track. Everything from the opening line “I just say up yours, baby” to the pace of the music, and even the way he sings “Yeeeaah” is reminiscent of what he would do later on. Still, it manages to be catchy and is one of their best songs. “I Zombie” isn’t hard to remember thanks to the constant use of the line “I Zombie.” The track deceives the listener into a peaceful mood with a choir harmonizing until it’s interrupted by a blood curdling scream. It’s aggressive and comes right at you without stopping. It delves right back into their psychedelic realm making this one trippy ass ride for the listener.

Hands down the best track on the album is “More Human than Human.” The song just kick ass, plain and simple. It finds the band using a bit of electronic for the throbbing riff that opens the song. The peeling guitar then shreds through fierce and is on fire. Zombie gets creative with the lyrics making up words like “psycholic” to describe this creature. There’s even a line that mentions “love American style,” which may be a reference to the show of the same name. Everything about it is awesome and really catchy. The oddly titled “Grease Paint and Monkey Brain” starts off sounding demented before the music slows down into a trance like state. This is probably the heaviest song on the record, which makes it a bit too slow at times. Still, the lyrics that equate death with a fucked up version of Las Vegas keeps your attention all the way through.

White Zombie were one of the most exciting, crazy, freaked out, and creative metal bands of the 90s. Though they disbanded right when they were hitting their stride, they at least went out with a bang on this LP. It left fans with some kick ass hits and gave Rob Zombie the basis for his successful solo career, which he’s still finding time for today when he’s not directing questionable horror movies. The music is heavy, the lyrics are creepy, and as always with White Zombie, there’s a bit of a groove to get your ass moving. It’s a great farewell from an awesome band.

 

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.

Educated Horses – Rob Zombie

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.