The Rob Zombie spookshow hasn’t stopped yet. It rolls on with the bizarrely named Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.
In the five years since the release of Hellbilly Deluxe, part II, Rob Zombie’s done some interesting things. He’s pinched a few members of Marilyn Manson’s band, made a new movie, and undoubtedly performed a few bizarre pseudo-sorcerous rituals of terror and pain.
But somewhere in the middle of all that mayhem, the master of the Seventies-by-way-of-the-Nineties found time to record and release a new album almost under the radar. Sure, it helps that he’s largely just copying himself, but then, there’s an old saying about fixing what isn’t broke.
VRRV kicks off with a grinding piece of distorted industrial sludge called “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy,” leaving us in no doubt about the tone of the album.
Most of the album is standard Zombie fare; fast-paced, foot-stomping bits of slash-and-thrash (special mentions going to “Dead City Radio” and “Lucifer Rising”), interspersed with heavier, doomier, and gloomier spectacles of fuck-you misanthropy, such as “Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga” and “The Girl Who Loved the Monsters,” all tied together with quotes from science-fiction nightmare flicks from the twentieth century.
VRRV even has the prerequisite mid-album slow, non sequitur groove piece (“Theme for the Rat Vendor”). The lyrics are your typical mix of cryptic threats, metaphors, and kickass phrases that just scream for entire songs based around them. For example, this gem from “Dead City Radio”: “I’m a rhinestone tiger in a leisure suit.” Fuck yeah.
There is one bit of truly innovative music, though, and it comes to you courtesy of Grand Funk Railroad. I’m not kidding when I say that Zombie’s cover of “We’re An American Band” is the best version of the song I’ve ever heard, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it could be my favorite new song this year. It sounds like GFR’s version, except it doesn’t. It’s the sort of music that you can only do two things to: shake your hips, or shake your fists, the sort of music best played at immense volume, through a speaker made out of a dying planet. It’s loud, brash, American heavy metal disco grind, best served at the room temperature of Hell. In short, it’s all the things that made the first Hellbilly Deluxe so great.
To summarize this album is pretty easy: it’s not subtle. It’s aggressive, diabolical metal that aspiring fighters the world over are going to use as their entrance music, with Zombie’s usual horror-theme flare. If that appeals to you, it’s more of the same, and you’re going to love it. If it doesn’t, at best you won’t care one way or the other. But then, this album wasn’t made to win new fans, it was made to be played at maximum volume and shred whatever eardrums his old fans have left.
Overall rating: 7/10. Enjoyable, but one great song isn’t enough to get rid of the nagging fact that this is just a rehash of what we’ve heard before.