What’s this column about?
“With every album, you try to try to challenge yourself so you don’t just make the same record over and over.”
— Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie took a love of music, cult movies and art and created a venerable mini-empire of artistic endeavors. He went from fronting an underground sleazy-rock band (White Zombie) to becoming a sort of metal demigod — an Ozzy Osbourne for a new generation.
Starting out in the late ’80s fronting White Zombie, Zombie first exposed music fans to his specific brand of spooky-industrial-rock/metal. The band’s sound continued to grow and develop, culminating with the band’s big break, 1992’s “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1.” Hits like “Black Sunshine” and “Thunder Kiss ’65” put the band, and Zombie, on the metal map (so to speak). The group’s follow-up (“Astro-Creep 2000…”) and ultimately final album was an even bigger hit.
Rob Zombie set off on his own as a solo act, releasing “Hellbilly Deluxe” in ’98, “The Sinister Urge” in 2001 and “Educated Horses” earlier this year. He’s created an army of emulators (most notably the Murderdolls and Wednesday 13).
While future projects may ultimately take Zombie’s attention away from music all together, he has already more than solidified his spot among the metal elite … and put together a new classic along the way.
A New Classic
“After your first success you never know if it’s going to be you last one. After having finally reached a wide audience you have no idea what that audience thinks, or what they expect – it’s kinda weird.”
— Rob Zombie
“Hellbilly Deluxe” is the perfect encapsulation of everything that was right with White Zombie. The album is a full-on metal assault of chugging riffs, head-spinning beats and classic Zombie charm.
The album is full of rock/metal staples, hits and fan-favorites: the explosive opener “Superbeast” that is a huge hit during the live shows; the chug-a-chug rumble of “Demenoid Phenomenon” and “What Lurks on Channel X”; the hit singles “Living Dead Girl” and “Dragula.”
Zombie had perfected the sound he was creating with White Zombie, a blend of sleazy rock and twisted metal, a hint of industrial noise, churning rhythms and some occasional sampling. The whole amalgam is spiced up with a cult-horror flavor, whether it be the lyrics or the samples (even some of the riffs start to sound like organ chords).
While the music Zombie is creating isn’t exactly anything new, he is able to put his own subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) spin on it and make it truly his own. Long-time fans have more than enough to love here; new fans will be instantly hooked with the unique melodies and cult imagery.
The Test of Time
Following “Hellbilly Deluxe,” Zombie began to expand his sound. The “Sinister Urge” was still a strong outing, but taken as a whole the album had its share of hit-or-miss moments. (As it turns out, Zombie was experiencing a little burnout at this point and internal struggles with his band was making his music life “seem more like work” than usual.) With a new band in place, Zombie felt rejuvenated — this year’s “Educated Horses” takes the fundamental Zombie sound and tempers it with a classic rock feel.
Zombie is also spending more and more time making movies. With “House of 1,000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects” already under his belt, the modern-day auteur is working on a full-length animated feature and is rumored to take the helm of “Halloween 9.”
Still, whenever the whim hits, Zombie is sure to offer up more spooky-metal for the masses.
Until Next Time
Zombie has reached a certain type of plateau in the music industry, just like Ozzy Osbourne. While neither may be cranking out music on a regular schedule, each has a solid enough (and growing) fanbase that each subsequent album and tour seems like an event. “Hellbilly Deluxe” was the perfect release for Zombie. Now firmly established, Zombie fans can sit back and enjoy the ride as he continues to expand and grow in new directions.
And that’s that. Until next time, take it easy. Stay tuned and enjoy the ride …