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Frontloaded with good stuff, backloaded with crap - 75%

NecroFile, June 14th, 2008

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's gonna go'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.