Quantcast
Share This:

Reviews

Album Review: ROB ZOMBIE The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser

Posted by on May 10, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Rob Zombie's career has been pretty feast or famine since he split up White Zombie in the late 90's at the peak of that band's success. His first solo album, Hellbilly Deluxe, proved that Rob was indeed the main showstopper in his previous band, and with monster hits like "Dragula" and "Living Dead Girl" (the latter, thankfully, no longer a common strip club anthem) Hellbilly Deluxe validated Zombie's decision to go solo for many fans who had only the briefest of windows to lament the demise of White Zombie itself.

That was the better part of two full decades ago, however; Zombie's 2001 follow up, The Sinister Urge, was a decent enough follow up that nonetheless was the first real sign of diminishing returns setting in. It also initiated Zombie's "media blitz" strategy which he still largely employs to this day, abandoning traditional radio singles in favor of cross-merchandise licensing of his material for everything from film soundtracks to video games. A fitting timeline in this case, as most of his musical output since then has increasingly seemed more like product than passion project.

At the time it just seemed like Zombie's muse was shifting from music to film, with 2003's House of 1,000 Corpses and its sequel, Devil's Rejects, receiving high marks from horror fans for their brutality and experimental, fever dream narratives: messy to the point of incoherence for some, both films nonetheless drew cult followings for their hallucinogenic stockpiling of horror tropes rendered in genuinely frightening, psychopathic splendor.

Then he fucked around and shat out those two ill-advised Halloween remakes and it's been nigh-near impossible to defend his half-assed musical output ever since.  At least when his films were still on point you could forgive the contemporary albums for not being all there: the man's focus was obviously on his new love – movies – and if his music started to suffer as a result, well, at least he was bringing legit horror to the silver screen. The two albums that bookended the release of his Halloween films – 2006's Educated Horses and 2010's sequel-itis Hellbilly Deluxe 2 – were both forgettable efforts that lacked any trace of spark from Zombie, feeling like tossed off attempts to either keep his hand in the game or, even worse, provide free background music for future films while (hopefully) even assisting in their financing via selling physical copies to his remaining diehard fans.

Rob's most recent album to date, 2013's Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, took almost a  year to release and represented his most uninspired material to date… you can pretty much tell an artist has run out of ideas when he finds himself covering "We're An American Band". His current effort, the Tom Wolfe-via-Satan entitled The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser, is only slightly more salvageable, saddled with all of the undercooked excesses of its predecessors while at least having a few genuinely catchy tracks that manage to  do more than not just embarrass themselves.

That those tracks are mostly sequenced at the end of the album says a lot about Zombie's assumption that his fans really want the nudge-nudge, wink-wink stuff first and foremost. "Satanic Cyanide! The Killer Rocks On!" actually wouldn't be a  bad song if Zombie didn't insist upon ruining it with a histrionic chorus that strives way too hard at building call-and-response enthusiasm… the track screams "forced crowdwork", and music that is written with an arena audience in mind (rather than vice  versa) rarely pans out well. And if the title to "Well, Everybody's Fucking In a U.F.O." is an overly kitschy turnoff for you, wait until you hear Zombie's lame attempts at channeling "Jerry Was a Racecar Driver"-era Primus (I seriously had to google to make sure this wasn't a bad Les Claypool cameo, and if it had been… shame on him).

Like I said, it's not all a shitshow, though: tryhard title aside, "The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore" rides a spirited organ riff and aggressively mobile backbeat to earworm success. "Get Your Boots On! That's the End of Rock and Roll" is largely patterned the same as the aforementioned "Satanic Cyanide!", but whereas the latter was a little hamfisted in execution, "Get Your Boots On!" is effortlessly catchy by comparison. "In the Bone Pile" and "Wurdalak" also find Zombie removing  tongue from cheek for some agreeably old fashioned fun in the vein of his first couple solo albums.

Of course, Rob pretty much handicaps himself here by restricting the entire album to a tight 31 minutes (which still  manages to squeeze at least two filler interlude tracks), so it's debatable  whether Electric Warlock is a superior album to Venomous Rat, but frankly after the career nadir of the latter any sign at all that Rob Zombie once again gives an actual shit is a step in the right direction.

Score: 6.5/10

Subscribe to Metal Injection on

Related Posts

COMMENTS