Rob Zombie

Hellbilly Deluxe, Vol. 2

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Love him or hate him as a director or as a musician, Rob Zombie shows no signs of closing the door on either of his creative endeavors anytime soon. Returning with his first album since 2006’s Educated Horses after several delays following the record’s completion in 2008 -- due to his work on Halloween 2, time spent shopping for a new label after 18 years of recording for Geffen, and, perhaps, a lack of public interest -- Zombie has since gone on to say that the songs on Hellbilly Deluxe 2 were his easiest to write. This could be because it was his first outing to include help from his bandmates (longtime touring comrades guitarist John 5, bassist Piggy D, and drummer Tommy C), but it’s probably more attributable to the fact that making this type of song is old hat by now. “Jesus Frankenstein,” “Sick Bubblegum,” and “Mars Needs Women” are the same schlocky grooves that made up his five previous solo records and six White Zombie records. His trademark “yeah” and monotone hoedown growl are still front and center, the B-horror movie references are still plentiful (Frankenstein, martians, witches, and two songs about werewolves), and the chugging guitars and dark, sleek beats are still trashy enough to be stripclub staples. Chris Baseford’s production is thick throughout, notwithstanding the single “What,” a song Zombie and company wrote and recorded in only a few hours. Influenced by ‘60s garage rock, the vocals are run through a maximal amount of mid-range distortion and accented by tambourine clinks and organ riffs behind the usual crunch, but where bands like the Horrors make raw revival work for them, “What” is too calculated and processed to actually sound raw. It’s as if Rob Zombie’s trying to be something else, but still coming up totally Zombie. Still, at this point in his career, his best move is to take these types of risks, and when he does so on the ten-minute closer “The Man Who Laughs,” with its underlying orchestral score by Tyler Bates (composer for the Halloween remakes The Devil’s Rejects and The Watchmen), the results are compelling and unnerving in a good way.

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