After taking a break from the music scene to write and direct his debut film, “House of 1,000 Corpses” and its sequel, “The Devil’s Rejects,” shock rocker Rob Zombie has returned with a new band, a slightly new sound and a new album.
Joining Zombie in the fold this time around are former Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 on lead guitar, former Alice Cooper skinsman Tommy Clufetos behind the drum set and long-time Rob Zombie four-stringer Rob “Blasko” Nicholson taking care of bass duties.
With this latest release, Zombie has cut down on his traditional synth electronic sounds and moved away from the industrial elements found on previous works such as his debut “Hellbilly Deluxe” and follow-up “The Sinister Urge.” Instead, Zombie has favored a back to the roots sound for “Educated Horses” by incorporating more elements from his “White Zombie” days such as driving guitar riffs combined with sludgy grooves and a grittier, dirtier overall production sound.
The opening track is a short interlude, but the first actual song of the album, “American Witch,” showcases the “White Zombie” elements well. The song kicks off with a catchy, yet pounding guitar riff and never lets up, apart from John 5’s eerie-sounding guitar solo section.
“American Witch” is followed by the album’s single, “Foxy, Foxy.” “Foxy” may take some getting used to because it’s the song that sounds the least like conventional “Rob Zombie.”
Zombie chose to do something different and explore new territory with this song and while many have written him off as a sellout based solely on this song, all I have to say is listen and judge for yourself but keep an open mind. I wasn’t too wild about it at first myself, but with each repeat listen I find myself getting into it more.
Another track reminiscent of the “White Zombie” days is also the heaviest song on the album, “Let It All Bleed Out.” It’s not only the heaviest on the album, but also the fastest. Picture “More Human Than Human” on a collision course with the Herman Munster hot rod hit “Dragula” minus any industrial sounds.
A personal favorite of mine is the more subdued “Death of It All.” This track provides a nice contrast to the locomotive that is “Let It All Bleed Out” with its doom-inspired groove and crawling bass lines. It sounds like a track that could be found on the soundtrack of either one of Zombie’s films.
Perhaps the changes and shift in sound to the days of old Zombie can be attributed to a collaborative song-writing process. Zombie handled all lyrical duties, but John 5 co-wrote the music for eight of the album’s 11 tracks with Zombie.
While there are no real standout tracks that really grab you, Zombie has compiled a solid set of 11 songs with “Educated Horses” and there’s no mistake about the man behind the music. This is traditional “Zombie” through and through with a few shots from the needle of experimentation and Zombie shows change isn’t always bad.
I give “Educated Horses” 3.5 stars out of 5.