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I'm not a stranger to White Zombie, I've heard Thunderkiss 65 and More Human than Human on the radio plenty of times. I still expected to be coming here writing about how this was over commercialized groove metal and that I thought Rob Zombie's industrial shock rock was superior, a very unpopular opinion. I expected a boring groove album with 1 or 2 songs that were enjoyable even if it was just in comparison to the rest simply because that's my experience and opinion of groove metal, but I surprisingly found an album with many good tracks on it.
Its no surprise to me why White Zombie has such a divided reputation amongst metalheads. Groove metal has divided metal fans since Pantera first hit the scene and the extra commercialization in Zombie's sound sure hasn't helped them gain a better consensus. At this album's roots is pure straight up groove metal, it is augmented by an alternative rock vibe that helped it hit radio success, it also contains industrial elements in the form of sampling (later to be remixed).
The sound is centered around guitar groove and vocals. Take out either of these elements and these songs simply wouldn't have much merit beyond being cohesive anymore. The guitar has a very generic tone and sticks to pretty predictable grooves to drive songs forward with power. The riffs are both catchy and something easy to (mildly) headbang to (more of a headbob really). It throws in some screechy solos. I'd love to say these are the influence of Slayer but its more likely just a groove metal norm (groove metal probably borrowed it from Slayer though)
The singing is competent, sometimes pretty good and but usually just competent. Rob doesn't live up to his hype. The lyrics themselves are mostly horror movie influenced, enough to give that shock factor, that Halloween classic vibe but are not nearly as extreme as well... Slayer, the lack of extremity helps it to retain its popularity with the rock crowd.
The sampling comes from a variety of sources. Horror movies, recorded sermons, jingles are some of the various sources that the sampling is drawn from, at worse the sampling comes in to prevent a groove from becoming monotonous and boring. At their best the samples actually provide a deeper vibe or feeling to the song and are taken from a source that actually adds to the song's theme. The sampling was a very good strategy and probably helps make up part of the reason I like White Zombie even though I generally dislike most groove.
The songs are fun in the same way as horror movies or haunted houses. The grooves manage to keep from getting stale long enough to make songs enjoyable. The sampling helps to break monotony as it develops. The thing is most of the good tracks are packed at the end. Thunderkiss 65 is alright I guess but nothing special, its just the track radio stations play to desperately try to wrangle in some metalhead listeners.
Standout Tracks: Black Sunshine, I am Legend, Thrust, Grindhouse and Starface
Gladly dismissing the noise rock experimenting of the first White Zombie album and ditching the thrash influence of Make Them Die Slowly, White Zombie combined '70s psychedelic rock with alternative rock and metal of the time to make one unique and catchy album. Though slathered in '70s sleaze and B-movie samples, this album seems to be a rather serious effort. No more kids banging on drums and scratching chords like the early days, White Zombie finally bloomed into an awesome groove machine. Noticeably, the band's production is dramatically increased and in turn the instruments are clean and crisp. Other modifications such as the variety of influences like thrash, doom and '70s pop-rock are very prominent and give this album a lot of variety.
The infamously overrated front man, Rob Zombie, brings forth his '70s sleaze and rusty vocals along for the ride on this album. Going for more of a laid back zombie chilling in the studio attitude, than the 'wanna-be singer' of the previous album, is what makes Zombie's performance so great. Zombie seems really interested in the music and his vocals seem to effortlessly flow with the groove. Backing the catchy riffs and trippy jams with a perfect vocal match. Tracks like "Thunder Kiss '65" and "Welcome to the Planet Motherfucker" really show this side of Zombie well. Zombie is also able to go for a doomy approach on "Warp Asylum" and "I Am Legend" to really bring the B-movie zombie flick feel to life. The lyrics entirely center around horror movies and some exploitation films of the '60s, which matches the music very well. Zombie's lines and vocal phrasing is also something that makes this album so great and unique. "Soul Crusher" and "Cosmic Monsters Inc." show some catchy vocal hooks and lyrical wording that can be taken in many different directions at times, but are ultimately spectacular. Other tracks like "Grindhouse" and "Starface" show a more pumped and happy side of Zombie's voice. Zombie's vocals basically make this album what it is, a sleazy horror show. Without Zombie's great lyrics and vocal phrasing this album wouldn't be half as good as it is.
The guitar work on this album is very '70s psychedelic and a bit thrashed influenced at times. With these two styles together, Jay Noel Yuenger makes really great, groovy riffs that will trap themselves inside your brain and tear it to pieces. Yuenger has a fantastic tone, that has a great chunky low end for heavy riffs, and a squealing high for screaming solos and leads as heard on "Spiderbaby" and "I Am Legend". Some of the psychedelic grooves like that on, "Welcome to Planet Motherfucker" and "Cosmic Monsters Inc." are incredible catchy and have a lot of great hooks and melodies. Some of the more thrash oriented tracks like, "Soul Crusher" and "Thunder Kiss '65" are more like a South of Heaven era Slayer, but with a bit more '70s influence. Yuenger also shows some influences of pop/rock of the '70s in, "Thrust!", "Grindhouse" and "Starface". These songs are very different from anything else White Zombie has done, mainly because of the 'happy-go-lucky' vibe they give off. None the less, the riffs and melodies are incredible solid and full of great hooks to keep you coming back for more. Some nice solos are also presented by Yuenger most noticeably on "Thunder Kiss '65" and "Cosmic Monsters Inc." A more dramatic solo is also heard on the epic doom influenced closer, "Warp Asylum" that really brings the album to a nice closing point. Yuenger's playing is exceptional to say the least. Bringing forth some of the catchiest riffs in metal and trippy leads that are a nice throwback to the '70s.
The drumming on this record is incredible tight and holds the funk perfectly with the guitar and bass. Being the last album with Ivan de Prume, it turns out to be his best performance with the band. Taking his simplistic approach to drumming, and trowing in a lot of great kick drum beats that really put the album together like that on, "Starface", "Thrust!" and "Thunder Kiss '65". Prume's drumming has just as much range as Yuenger's guitar does, ranging from doom, thrash and psychedelic beats. They complement the guitar work well and really seem to know what each other are thinking. Together they make great beats take the already funky riffs and make them air tight. The drum tone is great as expected, with some nice clean cymbals and a pounding snare. The kick drum is rather soft that can be a problem to some but can be overlooked by Prume's brilliant performance. Prume is a fantastic drummer who really knows how to take catchy riffs and make them even better. Prumes range is also something to be adored by any listener along with his brilliant tone.
Everyones favorite female bassist, Sean Yseult (sorry Jo Bench), returns and is actually audible on this recording unlike previous and future albums. Yseult does some solid work on this album that you can actually hear, most prominently on, "Black Sunshine". Though overrated, it is a good song with a great bassline that plays continuously throughout the track. Yseult doesn't do much else to stand out but she does some nice supporting on, "Soul Crusher" and "Spiderbaby" that gives the feeling that band is playing as one. The bass tone is bright and pretty standard when it comes to bass tones but is pleasant to the ear. Though Yseult's playing is solid and clean, I would have liked to hear more of the independent bass lines and fills she was trying on the previous album, Make Them Die Slowly. I feel this would have worked well with the rest of the groovy music but the work she did record is solid enough to satisfy.
In conclusion, La Sexorcisto is a must have for any stoner metal fan or fan of '70s psychedelic music. Full of catchy riffs, tight drumming, and an amazing vocal and lyric combination that range from multiple musical influences, this album should not be passed up by any metal fan.
I once heard someone say "this album is so good, it's surprisingly it's not better" and that describes my feelings towards White Zombie's major label debut. The first part of the album is amazing, but around a third of the way in someone lets all the air out and you're left with an album that's only partly good. What bites me is the band came so damned close to having a great album. It's like seeing a basketball player shoot from the point, and you're watching the ball sail through the air and thinking "It's gonna go in...it's gonna go in...it's gonna go in...IT'S GONNA GO IN....Aw, fuck, it almost went in."
Some history for those who are just tuning in. White Zombie was formed in the early 80s as a noise rock/acid/grunge band heavily influenced by bands from Seattle, but around 1990 or so, they abruptly changed their sound to more of a funk/groove metal style. This album marks the beginning of this shift. La Sexorcisto is full of groovy riffs and danceable beats (not to mention a bassline fatter than a teenage girl's thighs) and the band became a powerful commercial force because of this album.
"Welcome to the Planet Motherfucker" starts off the album, and boy is this song a ripper. Funky riffs and a catchy chorus, what more do you want? It segues into "Psychoholic Slag" (for some reason both songs are on the same track) which is one of the most fucked up songs I've ever heard. The whole band sounds like they're on a massive acid trip. The next "real" song is "Thunderkiss '65", which was the band's first big radio hit. As a bit of trivia: they released it three times and it didn't chart, but on the fourth release it suddenly shot into the top 20 and the music video was slotted into heavy rotation on MTV. All in all, an amazing song full of memorable parts.
The epic "Black Sunshine" takes my pick as the best song on the album. It's an uptempo funk anthem propelled Sean Yseult's distinctive bass riff with an amazing vocal performance from Rob Zombie. There's also a cameo from Iggy Pop (a big influence on this band). It successfully merges a whole pile of influences, I can see traces of grunge, thrash, and even surf rock in this song. My one small complaint is that it goes on for too long, after the solo there's this long spoken-word part that doesn't go anywhere. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.
Enjoying yourself? Good, because after this song the whole album dies.
"Soul Crusher" has mediocre riff that gets repeated for the first minute or so, then it turns into a boring funk/rapcore song. On "Black Sunshine" the band is rocking out at full speed, here they are going through the motions. And it's too fucking long. "Cosmic Monsters" has lots of catchy parts, but it never forms into a cohesive song (you get a few verses and choruses and then the band seemingly forget what they're doing and lapse into an overlong bridge section). Spiderbaby is spooky-sounding...for the eighty seconds it takes for you to realise that this isn't a song but merely a collection of riffs and drumbeats with no conceivable structure, and a long-winded one at that.
Are you sick of me saying these songs are overlong? Well, they are. Just about every song on the album has this problem: there's a perfectly good 3 minute song there and they stretch it out to 5 or 6 minutes with repeated riffs, spoken-word sections, horror movie samples, and redudant intros and outros. "I Am Legend" is the worst offender, it is 5 minutes long and 2 minutes are taken up by an acoustic solo that has no place or context whatsoever with the rest of the song. Sorry guys, but you aren't good at writing long songs.
Late in the game, the band surfaces for air with "Starface", which is pretty good. Snip one and a half minutes out of the middle and I'd be completely happy with it. Sadly the closing track, "Warp Asylum" pretty much sucks and blows. Basically you've got Jay Noel Yuenger playing whatever on his guitar while Rob Zombie blabs random bullshit about how the darkness illuminates 10,000 miles and the whole time your eyelids are slowly dropping and you're brain is being illuminated with 10,000 watts of boredom. Naturally, it is the longest song on the album.
So there you have it. White Zombie's debut is impressive for what it is and a huge step forward compared to their previous work, but is also amazingly bipolar. The first four songs are incredible, but after that the band nosedives into suck and never fully surfaces again. This is why drugs should be banned from recording studios.
I got into White Zombie seriously some month ago but they've been a well known name for me since the beginning of my headbanger direction. After listening to this album I gotta say that it's a great album and their best as well. It has some great elements of funk, heavy metal, alternative metal and everything's just swinging and you go with it!
The opening track called "Welcome To Planet Motherfucker / Psychoholic Slag" is a great opener and you immediately get some great feelings for the rest of the album. This album features a lot of old horror movie clips which can be a little annoying after a while. Track 2 is one of these clips. Track 3 is the big hit "Thunder Kiss '65" and this is some funky shit but at the same it's heavy and absolutely catchy. It's here where this albums roller coaster starts with great tunes to average tunes. "Black Sunshine" is another of those really great tracks and "Soul-Crusher" are pretty damn good aswell. After two more average tracks we get to hear the excellent "I Am Legend". What a great title for such a great song! The rest is filled with some great music but "Grindhouse (A Go-Go)" is one of those special tracks that I've fall in love with. The whole feeling with it is strange, dark and just exciting. I get goosebumps when I hear the solo, so satanicly beautiful.
The production sounds perfect for these tunes. It just screams out the power of early 90's (grunge, alternative rock / metal). I especially like the drums and Rob Zombie's vocals which at this point don't have too much of these weird effects he got on "Astro-Creep: 2000". The guitar and the bass sounds nice too but they could maybe have been somewhat rawer.
The cast is great here unlike on their previous albums or well, they were pretty good on "Make Them Die Slowly" but here... They are awesome! The double bass drums and the drums overall sounds like thunder and machine guns while the bass gives you something like a weird "60's goes 90's" feeling. The guitar solos aswell as the acoustic guitars sounds really great and there's some great riffing as well. Rob is Rob. The man has built I'm a great possition (much because of this release) in the metal music as one of the biggest dudes and greatest singers.
So finally to my last comments on "La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol.1"...
The album is great, it's defenitely worth some listens or a buy. The strongest hits here would probably be "Thunder Kiss '65", "Black Sunshine", "I Am Legend" and "Grindhouse". All tracks are great though, some more than others but it's always like that.
Dig it up somewhere, it shouldn't be too expensive in used condition and I don't think it's so expensive to buy as new either.
Long before Rob Zombie began releasing his techno-industrial solo albums, he had a real metal band, albeit a strange one. White Zombie is that band and though their music isn't really intricate, it's one of the strangest experiences you can get with a metal band.
The most difficult part about reviewing this album is determining the genre under which to classify it. A lot of the the riffs have a distinctive groove metal feel, but with 80's sounding guitars rather than downtuned modern sludge. Other riffs are distinctly doom metal, with a bluesy edge. Add a nice psychedelic atmosphere with tons of samples from old horror films and sound effects and you get one of the craziest combinations of metal around. This is also before the industrial influences that are apparent on the followup, Astro Creep 2000, and Zombie's solo albums.
Zombie's vocals are rough and gritty and just plain cool, which makes up for the lyrics. The lyrics are mostly nonsensical and trippy, designed to be cool to listen to rather than to understand. Zombie doesn't take himself seriously, therefore what we have is a fun, lighthearted metal album for all occasions. And with songs like "Welcome to Planet Motherfucker/Psycholic Slag," you know these boys were on some strong shit when they were writing songs.
As far as the songs ago, they're pretty varied in tone and tempo, but they're all generally heavy, lead filled, and energetic. Minus the three short intro tracks, all the songs are fun to listen to. The guitar work isn't going to blow your mind, but the riffs are very cool and punctual, fitting right into the songs very naturally. The lead work is nothing to shit yourself over, but again, it fits well. The drums and bass make for a nice rhythm section to carry the album's groove from beginning to end, and some of the drum fills and bass lines are quite intricate.
It took me a few listens to get into this, but it was worth it. The album is trippy, heavy, and overall just a really fun listen.
Thunder Kiss '65
I enjoy White Zombie for a few reasons. One of them is because they are one of the pioneers of groove metal, another is because of their psychedelic sound, and finally because White Zombie is awesome if you let it grow on you. At first, I thought that this was mild and generic, but as I kept on listening to it, it grew on me. This is a hell of a lot better than Astro-creep because this one sorta has a Thrash meets Stoner Metal kinda quality to it which I love. After scanning through reviews on this album, I was expecting it to be pretty decent, but after listening to it quite the number of times, I LOVE it.
Though usually in my reviews I love reviewing track for track, but to me, I love pretty much everything on this album. I know it's not that heavy or that fast, but for some reason, that is exactly what I like. It seems more that White Zombie was not about persuing a "heavy" image with this one, but a more darker/groovy image, which in my opinion, I would say that this is the best groove metal album ever.
To cut to the chase I will say what songs I would say are worthy, Welcome To Planet Motherfucker is definately a cool track. The introduction is kind of long. Thunder Kiss 65 is alright and has some cool guitar riffs, but is not one of the highlights. Black Sunshine is considered to be one of the highlights, but to be honest it's NOT really a great song. Rob's little dialogue at the beginning is personally kinda cheesey, but can be a real fun song from time-to-time. I am Ledgend is a nice song, all because of it's melodic intro. It goes back to the older days of Thrash Metal, but once the song kicks in, it goes Groove, and is very much a psychedelic tune, however, I do not like that "hoo-chee-coo, I want her" bit there. As for the best song on the album is Warped Asylum, this one is not only the longest on the album, but probably has the most amount of effort.
BOTTOMLINE: At first, when I reviewed it, it was minimal effort, but as it grew on me, I ended up loving what I heard. Definately a KILLER album to me anyway. However, for some reason all those negative elements that would normally be considered to be detrements to the album are actually total assets to it. Nice to listen to when you're stoned, so that's where I recommend it.
For lack of a better obscenity, his album fuckin' rocks. It is the main reason really I miss these guys. Sure, Rob Zombie has his movies and his techno metal solo albums, but they only hold passing novelty, containing not even 1/10th of the intensity displayed here. These tracks are unbelievably vicious third generation thrash from a band that knows how to play, and play HARD. It's sharp, it's smart, and damned funny.
With White Zombie, there are no songs about demons, or devils, or nuclear annihilation. They lusted not for the glamor of classic metal lyrical cliches, but rather pure pathetic crap. Rob snarls about monster truck rallies, professional wrestling, bad horror flicks, and cheap porno. These were the elements of daily life for people like Beavis and Butthead, and the snarky sense of humor made the band popular with cynical hipsters in the post-Nirvana era.
A well kept secret, is that in a punk-obsessed, post-metal pop culture, White Zombie could really play. They didn't put on mathematical virtuoso displays like Megadeth or Iron Maiden, but the skill was thick as a slab of concrete, and obvious if you paid attention. Jay Yuenger was a shredhead like no other, displaying a weird blend of Slayer and Trouble, set in layer upon layer of multiple tracks. Ivan DePrume was the ideal groovemonster for this mutant. Though it was his last album with the band, and he was replaced by a drummer with more impressive credentials (John Tempestra), DePrume seemed to fit into the band's rhythms in natural lockstep, without ever sacrificing taste or feel. Then there was Sean Yesseult. One of the few prominent female figures in metal, Sean amusingly helped Rob found the band because she was a fellow art Student with Rob at a southern California university, and because she was his girlfriend. She had never picked up a bass before the Voodoo Moon EP, but had clearly earned her keep by this time. Black Sunshine is the most obvious example of her talents, which were well above par for one of the more neglected instruments in metal. Sean has also displayed the most interesting career of all former Zombie members, escaping the lackluster supergroup Famous Monsters, in order to found Rock City Morgue. It is her current band which most resembles the original incarnation of White Zombie, a sleazy post-punk outfit, full of morbid fascinations. The trailblazing work she was once part of has given way to the basic concepts she began with.
In all fairness, White Zombie weren't alone in creating groove-based, danceable thrash. Pantera had already begun the trend with Cowboys From Hell, while Helmet and Prong were not far behind. Within the next two years, Sepultura hopped on the bandwagon with Chaos AD, and Machine Head released Burn My Eyes. This album just happens to be one of the first and best from the last wave of thrash metal. The techniques, sound, style and aesthetics of White Zombie had a profound effect on the budding nu metal scene, and helped launch Rob Zombie's more famous (but less innovative) solo career. La Sexorcisto was the moment of glory.
Ah , I pop this cd into my walkman, put in my earbuds, and take a nice rockin trip down route 666. Welcome to planet motherfucker. Little sampling stuff at the beginning and then things things blast off! Nice guitar at the beginning, adding drums on top into the verse. Pretty much just catchy as fuck Heavy Metal, that definitely sounds fresh out of the 80's, which isn't too much of a surprise. A good thing is that they don't overmilk the riffs so it doesn't get boring. Now it's the bridge into Psychoholic Slag... "Do you have to open graves to find girls to fall in love with?" I seriously like the samples found on this album. "Planet pretty kill" is a cool line. The Groove riff in this section is definitely simplistic, and rocking. I do not like however the vocal effect near the end. This track could have ended with a guitar solo, and it kind of does, but they choose to just fade out. Dammit give us closure!! Not a huge flaw, but it bugs me.
Knuckle Duster (Radio 1-A) sets up the next track perfectly. You hear those sounds in the backround that sound like people fucking? Well, it's samples of people fucking. Again a strange penchant for samples on this album but I enjoy them. Time to make a pit stop and go thunder kissin'!! 1965 is infectious, other than that nothing to special "Can you dig the satisfaction? Well, you can't take it with you but you can! In Overdrive" that's a cool lyric. Now it's time to drive the monster. Let's get in this 4000 horsepower black mustang and drive it straight to the heart of hell!! This song is the best track, as it takes pretty much everything good on the album and crams it into one evil track. That bass line owns you, no matter how simple it is (E-G-A-A#). Maybe, just maybe they could have sped this song up. But then it would be lethal thrash. Oh, yes the bass player is hot, like Shakira gone metal. i've seen them live and she's mean, too. Spittin and kickin at dudes in the front row. Nevertheless after all the blues scale riffs "Finally, nothing moves...A concrete fascination, scraping the edge of nothing." Beautiful.
Soul-Crusher is good, picking up the speed that should have been on the last track, although it's slightly slower, the riffs are faster, more subdivision than Black Sunshine. A little repetitive, but barely detrimental. This song almost thrashes, but it's a fleeting version therein. Cosmic Monsters inc. starts out a little lackluster, but when the verse starts with that groove riff, it's good, sounds a little borrowed from Pantera, but the spooky melodic riff is reminiscent of some Slayer. I think I heard that little harmony guitar part at 0.42 somewhere.. of course! Slayer's "Necrophiliac" except shorter. 2.13 features a riff that they ripped of from Iommi, but I hardly mind these things. Hey! a guitar solo! pretty good, couldn't ask for much more. Spiderbaby I'm not too big a fan of, the droning vocals and uninteresting riffs, they should have stuck with the riff at 1.53, and this song could have put a boot up your ass. Too bad. More doomish feeling near end and the end leaves with a lost pantera riff. Very good.
I am legend, starts with an often found spooky clean part (see Destruction - Days of Confusion, though the latter is of course much more creepy and effective) another good solo here, they could have done more. Radio 2-b just doesn't repeat the effect of 1-a. Thrust is filler to me, though the riffs are good this album is begginning to get a tad long-winded for what it is. Grindhouse (A Go-Go) isn't a grind track (thank Satan) but it's good. Good drums! And they didn't even have Tempesta. I like the riff here, and the riff at 2.09 as well, the result is very comparable to the previous track. Starface is good as well, with some more good guitar, and another good solo.
Now we stop to rest at the Warp Asylum. Cool intro, and the bass pounding behind the guitar is killer. The closing song is great with the little mini-leads that can be found all over the album, and the fastest solo, but not the best. the slowest song on the album yet it's up there with the first three songs.
Overall a good album, nice art work from Rob. Really effective when played at loud volumes, and definitely some tracks could be covered and made into monster crunchers. Great when driving and probably when drinking too. Together? Well, maybe, but it could be bad for your health... but these sentences have already begun to take place in your mind haven't they?
The next greatest White Zombie album aside from Astro-Creep. This is them in there 70's form, banging out tunes that would have been amazing back in the day, but still manage to impress to date. Rob seems to almost have had a shred of saliva left in his throat back then, enough that he could almost even sing. But thats not what White Zombie was about, they were about making good tunes, and good tunes they made.
Thunderkiss '65 is the most notable one on this cd, it's simplicity and hard-edge seem to make it a fan favorite. Nothing ground-breaking, just good hard music. Black Sunshine would be next and like Super-charger heaven off Astro-Creep, its a song made for racing. Groovier and cleaner this song belongs in none other than that mustang from Gone In 60 Seconds that I blew my load over a dozen time. I am Legend is one of White Zombie's deeper songs (that ain't saying much), and the last song Warp Asylum makes listening to the disc back to back much more than worthwhile.
If you like stoner rock, or pretty much any metal from the 70's this is a disc for you. It's impossible to do better with simple riffs and songs than they do on this album.