Rob Zombie: Album Review

Album – The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy

Rob Zombie is an American industrial metal vocalist, as well as being a cracking horror movie director and writer. The White Zombie alumni began his solo project in the mid to late nineties and has since enjoyed huge success with his 6 albums up until this year. The shock-metaller also boasts an impressive backing band with the likes of Marylin Manson’s former guitarist and drummer John 5 and Ginger Fish and former Wednesday 13 bassist Piggy D. He is known for his horror themes; great live stage shows and unnecessarily long album and song titles. I do have to admit the bands last album, Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser (see what I mean?!) didn’t do too much for me outside of a couple of songs. I have to say though, from the couple of singles they had released prior to their new album, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy, they have gotten me pretty excited for it as both songs are great and sound a lot closer to some of his best stuff. Come with me as I dive head first into the album and see what it’s like!

The opening track, Expanding the Head of Zed, is a short intro to the album, some cool-sounding choir vocals with some sample speech I imagine he got from some classic horror movie or another. It then leads into the albums leading single, The Triumph of King Freak. This is the song I am most familiar with, already having listened to it a fair amount as it is in my personal playlist. Opening on a repeated sample vocal of ‘the demons hate me’, all distorted and fuzzy it immediately starts out odd and unnerving. It soon fades out as a very industrial guitar note rings out instead. It is slowly built upon with some shakers, keeping a surprisingly tight rhythm, before the rest of the band fully comes in, the bass providing a huge note as the guitar plays a pretty great, almost Egyptian style riff. The drums build up more and more into an awesome little heavy riff before everything drops out for a second, only to explode straight into the chorus, Rob’s low vocals ringing clear and catchy over some heavy instrumentation. I cannot actually tell if the song has a verse or not, it goes into an equally catchy part after each ‘king freak’ bit, and then the only bit between the two times they are repeated is another vocal sample. Either way it works and sounds great! We get a rare but very welcome John 5 guitar solo after the second chorus. It sounded great and I do kind of hate that his talents as a lead are a little wasted by the bands he has been in. Anyone who has checked out his solo stuff knows how well the guy can shred, but he never gets to show it off. It drops down into some almost hip-hop for a little bit after the solo, some scratching and a great drumbeat, before exploding into a huge, heavy breakdown riff to build back into the final chorus. It’s great, and something I really want to be in the crowd for live. An overall fantastic RZ song and one that will most likely be in the live setlists for the rest of their touring time. Oh, and of course, it’s playlisted.

The Ballad of the Sleezy Rider again opens on another sample vocal before exploding into a heavy, grungy bass riff and another great little guitar solo. It soon heads into a heavy verse, the instrumentation fitting perfectly behind Robs vocals. His lyrics are his usual horror, occult stuff, but he does fit in his trademark do-wop style Rama-lama’s in there too! The chorus is another great one, maybe even catchier than the previous one, mainly due to it being a little less repetitive. Another short guitar solo leaves to an awesome first half of the second verse, almost all the instruments dropping out and just leaving a clapping sound behind Rob’s distorted vocals. It’s another moment that I think would go down so well live. The band are so good at their dynamics; dropping instruments in and out adds for some really great and interesting moments of the song. The final line of the second chorus has another one, everyone dropping out except for Robs vocals, and it just makes for more memorable moments in the songs. We get a very short, slow dropdown before the final chorus, one that I actually would have preferred to have gone on at least twice as long, before we finish. Another great song!

Hovering Over the Dull Earth is another short transitional track, having some electronic, space-style warbling that leads perfectly into the next track, Shadow of the Cemetery Man. The spacey warbling continues for a moment before it fades out as the bass drum and vocals come into it. It is all classic RB, reminding me a lot of his previous song, Ging Gang Gong (etc). The beat kicks in a little more for the second half of the chorus alongside a basic bass and guitar note sporadically. The pre has some more sampled vocals, this time counting us into the great chorus. It is again catchy but the real highlight is the subtle electronic sounds creeping again with a great little melody. We get a sweet little guitar run after the second chorus before it drops out to a great little drumbeat, again with some vocal samples. I have to admit, as much as they sound great, Rob uses them too much as it is, and I think every song so far has had one somewhere in it. And they’re not exactly short and subtle either, like the one at the start of Superbeast, they’re starting to get into overkill territory. We soon get another AWESOME guitar riff from John 5 behind Rob’s vocals before a final chorus takes us home. I really liked this, but honestly the samples in the middle put me off slightly, just enough to keep it out of the playlist.

A Brief Static Hum… is another intro track, a pretty decent, slow guitar riff and drumbeat, before it leads into a song title that is FAR too long so it shall get shortened to 18th Century Cannibals. It opens on another awesome guitar riff, this time having both acoustic and electric in there. It sounds like heavy western song, and I am fully on board. Zombie does his best southern drawl during the verses too, fitting in perfectly with the instruments even if his voice is heavily distorted. It just continues to get more country as we get an awesome guitar solo after the verses and country metal really was something I never knew I needed more of until now. The chorus suddenly explodes in, hard and heavy, but only lasts for two brief lines, catching me very off guard. It does make the song feel unnecessarily disjointed though, unfortunately. Both parts are good on their own, but together they make no sense. The outro is sick though, with it all combined together!

We finally reach the second and most recent single, The Eternal Struggles of the Howling Man. I have listened to this one a hell of a lot less than King Freak, I have to admit. It starts with an ominous organ melody before bursting straight into a hard, heavy, almost thrash riff for the verse. The chorus is short but sweet and I think, given the melody and lyrics, it would go down a storm live and would be great fun. The riff here from John 5 is crazy too, especially the one after the first chorus, he finally gets to write something a little fast and technical, not just big, fat, singular power chord stuff, and it pays off massively. We get a nice little catchy bridge after the second chorus before the song changes pace completely and we head into what I can only describe as a jazz/easy listening section, something I was not expecting from a song so balls to the wall so far. It’s awesome though, the riffs involved all being great, especially the heavier, wah-filled one as it builds back up. The pace then goes right back up again with those crazy alien sounds again in the background before we get an incredible, epic outro riff, one that is easily the highlight of the album so far. Heck, I think this may be the best song RZ have done in a LONG time. This one easily made the playlist.

The Much Talked about Metamorphosis is a beautiful little acoustic guitar interlude, a much-needed pallet cleanser after the heavy, fast nature of the previous song. The strings in the background and the harmonies in the second half both add so much to such a simple little track, and for the first time a short little instrumental interlude track has made it into the playlist, it was that good.

The Satanic Rites of Blacula is another song barely over two minutes in length, but for totally different reasons than the previous song. Instead, it is a punk song through and through, with Rob pulling a Slipknot’s Custer/Korn’s Clown and doing a comical in studio interrupt and count in to begin the proceedings. It’s corny at this point but the man makes it work. Anyway, the song is balls to the wall throughout, John 5 bringing some awesome riffs between Rob’s awesome vocals in the verse and choruses. This feels more like White Zombie than a lot of his solo stuff, another nice change of pace.

Shower of Stones is yet another filler interlude track. I’d be pissed about so many if this album wasn’t 17 TRACKS LONG. It’s a little overkill but when seven of them are interludes it still means there is enough album there to warrant it. And at only 41 minutes in total, I can’t exactly complain. It opens for Shake Your Ass – Smoke Your Grass. This feels a lot more like the Rob Zombie of the last album and I’m really not sure how I feel about it. It’s catchy, sure, but the lyrics are ridiculous and there really isn’t much to the song aside for the vocals. It opens on them and Rob barely stops singing throughout, outside of a pretty sweet riff after the first chorus (where John 5 seems to thrive on this album). But yeah, this song felt a little lackluster compared to a lot of the rest of the album.

Boom-Boom-Boom starts off slow, with a steady, simple drumbeat and some great little guitar work, a combination of both clean and distorted tones that work so well together. Rob’s vocals are heavily distorted again but low and sound far back in the mix, an interesting but great decision. It feels like it’s building with the first chorus but instead we get another little guitar solo after it before it continues into the second verse. In fact, as good as the song was, it all felt like a build-up to nothing. The second verse and chorus were exactly the same and then we get another solo before the song just ends. It stays at the same low, steady, light level throughout. That isn’t an issue at all, this album has been pretty heavy so far, it just felt a little odd.

Another filler track What You Gonna do with That Gun Mama?, leads into the penultimate song, Get Loose. The song opens into the chorus and some more crazy lyrics, but the call and response nature of the arrangement was pretty good and again would go down well live. That same formula is carried on through the verses too to pretty great effect. There’s some amazing, Egyptian-style guitar work from John 5 after the verse too, maybe some of the best soloing on the album. Overall this was a good song, but it followed the same sort of arrangement as some of the other songs on this album and they just did it a little better. It did have another incredible outro though, another insane riff from the guitar master himself.

The final interlude, Serenity of Witches, transitions seamlessly into the final track, Crow Killer Blues. Straight away it is HEAVY too, opening on a doom-metal riff, plenty of tapping and pinch harmonics, as well as John 5’s brand of fiddling about with his pickups a la Tom Morello. It’s fucking awesome. The riff gets a little simpler for the verse as Rob’s vocals come in, but it keeps the same doomy heaviness. A quieter pre leads into a huge, catchy, great chorus, maybe the best on the album. It’s another song that drops down to a slower beat and some quieter guitars after the second chorus, but thankfully with the song being longer this section lasts longer and is actually given some space to breath. It’s awesome too, the guitars sounding great and there is even some subtle synth in there in the background to add even more layers. And from this the song slowly fades out and there we have it, the entire album wrapped up by another great, playlisted song.

Overall: this was great, and in many ways better than I was expecting. The singles were great but there were some real standout gems spread throughout too, especially that short acoustic instrumental. For a band who I’m a little hit or miss with on track until I hear them live, this was really great and has me pumped for them to finally come back here for a tour sometime soon, not just a one-off Download appearance.

Overall: 7.5/10

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The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths

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