|Rob Zombie - 'Hellbilly Deluxe 2' (Roadrunner/Loud & Proud)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Sunday, 31 January 2010 18:55|
So, Rob Zombie returns to music with 'Hellbilly Deluxe 2' or, to give the album its full title, 'Hellbilly Deluxe 2 : Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls And The Systematic Dehumanization Of Cool', an album title destined to put food on the tables of any music writers paid by the word.
Zombie has stated that, as the recordings for this album began exactly a decade to the day when his first post-White Zombie release - the cult classic 'Hellbilly Deluxe' - was released, a psychotronic sequel to that record seemed like the right thing to do and, as he heralds in a new decade with a settled band line-up and a seemingly renewed aural appetite, you'd have to say that his choice was inspired.
I'm guessing that Rob Zombie would be more than happy for the word 'brutal' to be used to describe many avenues of his putrid portfolio, so I'm happy to be brutally honest here; Rob Zombie makes better albums than he makes 'Halloween' movies. While John Carpenter purists may well have felt like donning a Kirk mask and hunting down Zombie with kitchen knife raised in anger, Zombie music purists will have nothing but the devil horns raised in response to 'Hellbilly Deluxe 2'.
You have to afford Zombie some credit for, in a media-melding career spanning music, movies, comic books, art and staggering stage shows, sticking to his guns and never allowing that B-movie, horror-fuelled lifeblood to be drained out of him for the love of the filthy lucre. If the nearest he ever got to it was bowing down to the suits and filming extra content for his first Michael Myers escapade following teen-filled test screenings, then he was surely excused after his work print of the movie got....err...accidentally leaked. He continues to blur the dividing lines of his career with similar themes coursing through his entire body of work. While 2006 album 'Educated Horses' included the track 'The Devil's Rejects', the title of his finest cinematic work to date, this new album features a killer track called 'Werewolf Women Of The SS' which was, of course, the title of Zombie's faux trailer from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's 'Grindhouse' movie that so confused US movie goers.
Take Malcolm McDowell's ego-tainted turn as Dr Samuel Loomis in the Halloween movies. The parallels with the questionable career upturn experienced by Vincent Bugliosi, prosecutor in the infamous trial of the "Manson Family" - a term he created - who went on to make his fortune from his 'Helter Skelter' tie-in book, are hardly well hidden. And the Charles Manson theme infiltrates the music now as 'Cease To Exist', a sci-fi slow burner of a track from 'HD2', takes its title from a song given by Manson to The Beach Boys which was eventually renamed 'Never Learn Not To Love' with the lyric changed, in less nihilistic fashion, to 'Cease To Resist'.
Fans of the dead-end drive-in, trashy terror that usually provides the black heartbeat of Zombie's lyrics should not fear this murderous development; 'Hellbilly Deluxe 2' is still soaked in the blood of the fantastic. Any listener really familiar with the objects of Zombie's passion will, like me, laugh out loud at the awesomely outrageous "Papa Oom Mow Mow" refrain in 'Burn', a song that checks all the RZ boxes and adds maybe another couple more. The trademark beastly, throwaway Z-grade lyrical escapism is encapsulated more than anything on 'Sick Bubblegum', filled with dumbass yet cool as fuck wordplay that helps make this song the aural embodiment of Zombie's brain - the whole package summed up in less than four minutes.
To pin this album with the dumbass tag would be a deathly dishonour though; there are fender bending surprises spattered throughout 'Hellbilly Deluxe 2'. While 'Mars Needs Women', a real monster of a winning track, grooves along on a simplistic sci-fi refrain, the opening guitar work, even though provided by the multi-talented John 5, will still surprise. As will the swampy sound of 'Werewolf, Baby' and let's not go anywhere near the outrageous drum solo that fills out final track 'The Man Who Laughs' to almost ten minutes long - it has to be heard to be believed! Who would have thought that Rob Zombie could pull off a stunt like that? Ten minutes long, polished with incredible soundtrack strings and featuring an insane, four minute long drum solo? If you think that rock 'n' roll is about breaking rules, think again. This is about making the rules.
Rob Zombie himself believes that his stable band line-up has made a huge difference in the recording of this album and I'd have to agree. There is a real flow and heavy groove to the record that affords horns and high-fives aplenty to the afore-mentioned John 5, drummer Tommy Clufetos and bassist Piggy D who, as a band, bind this wretched work together and stop the guts from spilling out.
Any claim of 'Hellbilly Deluxe 2' merely "preaching to the converted" would be totally misguided. While long-term Zombie whores will wet their knickers at this righteous return, I'm guessing that a slew of new and curious listeners, buoyed by Zombie's cinematic endeavours, will be looking to check this new record out and, when the riff to opener 'Jesus Frankenstein' creepy crawls out of the speakers, they will have a new favourite album.