Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Music Album Review: Hellbilly Deluxe 2 by Rob Zombie

Better than HD1? I ask myself that question all the time, I rate it that highly.

Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is Zombie’s fourth studio album in his own name, as he was formerly of White Zombie. It is considered the brother to 1998’s hit album “Hellbilly Deluxe”, which also is considered his best effort, it was so well received there is a Deluxe Edition of the album now on sale.

Naming his new album Hellbilly Deluxe 2 was an ambitious move in my books. The reason is because his three other albums, as good as they are, were slowly getting worse. “The Sinister Urge” was a diluted “Hellbilly Deluxe”, and “Educated Horses” went in a very odd tangent, going more for the American Rock and commercial direction rather than keeping his raw industrial rock edge that he was so notorious for. This album also was jigsawed together, most if not all of it was actually finished around 18 months before release, and was delayed due to Zombie’s film priorities.

I felt that naming this album the sequel to his most successful album, after all these factors, the diluted previous album, the prioritising of his film, was a big mistake, it put a sour taste in my mouth when I heard about its imminent release. It just seemed lacklustre and inconsequential, especially as he is still only getting mixed reviews for his film efforts. Was this a big mistake?

The easy answer, no. This album IS Hellbilly Deluxe 2. It deserves to be named after his older brother. Does it follow “Hellbilly Deluxe” or “Educated Horses” in sound? The former, most definitely. This album is raw, it’s grisly, it’s melodramatic, and it’s silly. And that’s the Rob Zombie of old.

“Jesus Frankenstein” starts the album off perfectly, your typical Rob Zombie song, full of fantastic ghoulish lyrics and heavy guitars. The track also sounds likely to be the intro to his gigs as well; it has that type of vibe to it. From "Jesus Frankenstein" we then go to the main single of the album, being "Sick Bubblegum". It’s a decent track, not as crisp and striking as previous singles, but a very solid song. Track 3 is the best song on the album, named “What?”, which was another single, just sounds like The Munsters theme song twisted into a Rob Zombie machine. The track is just fantastically catchy, and Zombie’s vocals make the song, he just churns out the lyrics with his gruff and unique way, it’s just brilliant. “Mars Needs Women” is next, and this song is just great, the drums just sound like a stampede, and the main chorus being “Mars Needs Women, Angry Red Women”, it just makes you think that these huge red women are going to dominate the universe.

After that? Well that’s probably the main flaw in this album. The rest of the album is good; don’t get me wrong, but the epic beginning of the album just makes the rest of the album weak, and dilutes the experience. There are some very good songs, like “Burn”, which was a downloadable track on “Rock Band” the video game, and “Werewolf Women of the SS”, named after Zombie’s fake trailer in the great double feature film “Grindhouse”, which puts the very bizarre plot of female werewolves in control in Germany, and there’s nothing you can do about it (see the video below for the fake trailer).

The album finishes with “The Man Who Laughs”, a near 10 minute song complete with drum interlude. I’m bringing this song to your attention not because the song itself is great, but because of Tommy Clufetos, drummer of Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper, and his fantastic drumming ability. It’s an unusual Zombie inclusion and ending because I don’t think Zombie has done anything like this track before, and it’s an intriguing listen.

To wrap it up, I said earlier, “Hellbilly Deluxe" was considered his best album. Is this better? I ask myself that question all the time, I rate it that highly. It’s most certainly his second best album if not his best, the problem really is that almost perfect beginning, followed by the inferior second half of the album. It’s still a brilliant effort, I just wish he didn’t delay it for his film. Rob Zombie in my eyes always will be a great music artist first, and an overambitious film artist second. If you have heard his previous stuff, and were not sure whether or not to get this, please get it. You will not be disappointed.

Rating: ****1/2
Stand out tracks: What?, Mars Needs Women, Burn

Here is the fake trailer Rob Zombie did for the double feature film "Grindhouse":

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