Album review: Rob Zombie's 'Hellbilly Deluxe 2'
Transforming himself into a movie director hasn't relieved Rob Zombie of his need to rock 'n' rage. It was his first medium for indulging in the wild extremes of pop Americana, and he returns to it here with ghoulish joy.
A dozen years after his genre-defining solo debut, "Hellbilly Deluxe," Zombie has unleashed a sequel of sorts with the grim self-explanatory subtitle: "Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool." His obsessions remain fast cars, famous monsters, bikinis and sci-fi, which Zombie and guitarist John 5 translate into brutal hooks and a new musical clarity amid the sludge-storm.
The singer again steamrolls sacred family traditions with a wicked sense of fun while riffs and beats erupt like muscle cars. The album opens with "Jesus Frankenstein," layering waves of Black Sabbath gloom with madman electric guitar and a steady, oppressive beat, as Zombie groans: "Hallowed be thy name, redeemer of the witches, is what he became . . ."
The B movie fetishes unfold from one blood-spattered track to the next, helpfully illustrated across 24 lurid booklet pages that Zombie art-directed himself. He's always been a master of brash multimedia visions, first in his elaborate stage shows and now as an established film director, and each medium informs the others.
The leering track "Werewolf Women of the S.S." was also the title of a mock film trailer Zombie directed for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's exploitation movie tribute "Grindhouse" in 2007. Here it's a frantic creep-show rocker Herman Munster might crank up en route to the drag strip. He also shares some hard-won wisdom on "Death and Destiny Inside the Dream Factory," describing Hollywood as a place and idea to "crush your idols, they can afford it baby / Permanently vile and fascinating." There is no instant hit of the "Living Dead Girl" variety, but across 11 songs, "Hellbilly Deluxe 2" is Zombie's most consistently tuneful record to date, without sacrificing the noise and industrial beats of the past.
-- Steve Appleford
"Hellbilly Deluxe 2"
Three and a half stars (Out of four)