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It’s hard to believe that Rob Zombie once did more than front a ridiculously stupid solo project that’s overridden with cookie-cutter industrial influences. The truth is that this album, in all its ridiculously stupid glory, is actually a pretty good metal album and one of the crucial albums of the ’90s. No, really.
There is nothing too flashy on this album in terms of songwriting, just straightforward balls-out heavy rock. The best way I could describe the quality is that the record has more than a few hits and more than a few misses. Tracks like “Thunderpiss ’65”, “Black Sunshine”, “Planet Motherfucker”, “Soul-Crusher”, and “Thrust!” are still fun to hear after all these years, and those are the kinds of tracks that make this album what it is, which is a fun jaunt into early ’90s popular metal. Still, there are the rest of the tracks that range anywhere from mediocre to utter shit. It’s not enough to outweigh the brilliance of the good stuff, but it’s still there and you’ll be hitting ye olde skip button on several occasions during a play through.
This was before White Zombie got carried away with synthesizers and programming or whatever else they used to go all industrial on our asses, but they do still include the odd movie soundbyte. Other that that, though, this album sounds surprisingly raw and natural. The guitar tone has a very hard edge and really rips through the mix well. The drums sound tight and just cheap, for lack of a better word, but that gives them a bit of an endearing quality to me. The vocals are nice and loud so you can hear every weird Rob Zombie-esque pronunciation clearly. Andy Wallace produced it, and he has a pretty impressive history, boasting some engineering work with Slayer, Sepultura, and Blink 182. Ok, maybe not that impressive.
The guitar work on here is just classic. This album has awesome riff diarrhea. They just keep coming no matter how hard you try to pinch it off. Back in the ’90s, every awkward, pimply-faced guitar wannabe teenager my age with any taste for metal whatsoever learned the riff to “Thunderkiss ’65” and “Black Sunshine”. And “Soul-crusher”. And “Thrust!”. Seriously, this album is just badass riff after badass riff. Nothing is particularly technical or challenging in any way, but every single track is simple and catchy and that approach to music like this is pretty close to perfect.
This album features some of the greatest vocals ever recorded by a shitty film director. His tone has always been weird and infinitely fun to impersonate, but on this album Mr. Zombie sounded just a tad deeper and tad less processed and raspy than he does these days. He still sounds like Rob Zombie, but a little more human…than human. I’ll stop.
The bass is definitely there. It even takes center stage on the intro to “Black Sunshine” and shines on a few other occasions, but the actual parts are just a little lame. It don’t guess it needs to be doing anything spectacular, but I guess I just hope for more out of bass lines. Oh, and she’s a chick. I’m obligated to mention that.
The drums are one of my favorite aspects of this album just because they don’t really sound like they fit the rest of what’s going on in terms of style, tone, or anything. They sound extremely natural and naked. The kicks have a good tight punch and thump to them, and the high-hat is loud with a good sizzle. As for the actual drum parts, they never veer too far into the realms of technically difficult, and the de Prume guy seems to be a firm believer in keeping things simple for the sake of protecting the groove.
I don’t know what kind of metal this is, but I do know it’s metal. There are too many riffs and too much fun and energy on this record to say otherwise. It’s probably for the best that teh Zombie is no more. This one along with the “Astro Creep” album took the band essentially as far as it could be taken without soiling what they’ve accomplished by getting them stuck in a perpetual rut of derivative bullshit (See Rob Zombie’s solo career). This is a fantastically fun record that’s easy to get into and enjoy. If you have heard it, you know that. If you haven’t, you need to check it out.