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I'm sure lots of people would consider this album nu-metal, or mallcore, or whatever. Fuck you all. I don't care how many tr00 metal penis inches an album has, all I care is that it's catchy. And Astro Creep 2000 by White Zombie is catchier than the French team at the Ass-Grabbing Olympics.
This album finds the band changing their style yet again, to become more of a groove/industrial act similar to Ministry. Now, we could hold a long and thoughtful discussion about whether they sold out, but the songs on this album are of a damned high quality, turning this into their best album.
White Zombie always were something of a mystery. They were shockingly bad live musicians (especially vocalist Rob Zombie, who couldn't hold a note to save his life) and their sound and image was entirely second hand, yet they exercised a certain strange charm over the listener. Remember, the 90s were a time where everyone was trying to sound as dry and apathetic as possible. White Zombie were a blast of singalong, monsters 'n' mayhem fun. I once heard them described as Beavis and Butthead Metal, and I can't disagree with that description.
"Electric Head Pt 1" starts off with weird samples and voiceovers before cutting into a fast, minimalist pseudo-thrash riff. Rob Zombie's voice sounds huge and menacing, and gives the song the extra punch it needs. (Rob may have sucked live, but he was awesome in the studio) All in all, solid opener. "Super Charger Heaven" is the album's lead single and a ridiculously catchy groove tune that was a staple at the band's live shows. Trying not to sing along to this song is like resisting a girl who has her boobs pressed against her chest and her hand down your pants. "DEVIL MAN, DEVIL MAN, COME ON, RUNNING THROUGH MY HEAD!"
Unlike the band's previous offering, the album remains relatively solid right the way through. There are no bad songs, although a couple of songs like "Real Solution #9" don't have the same impact the others do. Betraying their noise rock roots, songs like "Grease Paint and Monkey Brains" have this kind of grungy sting, and this contrasts well with faster speed metal like "I, Zombie" and "El Phantasmo")
"Creature of the Wheel" is super heavy, with ominous double-bass rolls and a roared vocal performance from Rob Zombie. I have a soft spot for "El Phantasmo and the Chicken Blast-O-Rama". It starts out with a merry circus tune before WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!, a brutal thrash riff that kicks your teeth out through the back of your head. Even the most jaded metalhead will enjoy this one.
"Electric Head Pt 2" and "Blur the Technicolor" are groovy funk metal with lots of catchy parts. "More Human than Human" was the band's biggest chart success and is probably the most immediately accessible song here. It's rapcore, but don't be scared off, because it owes more to the Melvins than to Limp Bizkit. It has an overdriven bass riff and some tasteful electronics turning this into a freaky trip-out session where Rob pays lyrical homage to the movie Blade Runner.
The album's strangest moment is "Blood Milk and Sky." It is sounds sort of like a song from Sepultura's Roots album, in that it blends tribal music and groove metal. Again, don't get the wrong idea. It is far better than anything on Roots, and I'm just making the comparison so you can get a point of reference in your mind. There's something hypnotic about those chug-chug riffs and wailing chants. And even though it's 11 minutes long, it stays relatively fresh right the way through. At the end, there is a short instrumental called "The Sidewalk Ends where the Bug Parade Begins" that mostly consists of guitar feedback. A homage to Lou Reed, perhaps?
All of these songs listen well, but together they form something greater than the sum of their parts. Back the old days, albums actually were albums, in that they were conceptually united pieces of music. They weren't merely a list of cuts spliced together by studio producers. Despite their undeniable mallcore tendencies, White Zombie understood this. Astro Creep 2000 is fun, catchy and silly, but at the end of the day I feel justified in calling it a small work of art.