Album Cover

Produced by Rob Zombie. Vocals - Rob Zombie. Guitars - John Five. Bass - Piggy D. Drums - Tommy Clufetos. Songs written by Rob Zombie and John Five.

Roaring out of the hellgates nearly four years after his previous studio album Educated Horses, Rob Zombie's Hellbilly Deluxe 2 would seem like a step backward from the matured and classic rock feel he had embraced in 2006. But for better or worse, this musical follow-up to his debut solo record from fourteen years ago instead takes the best of both worlds. Fast answer, it works in spite of itself.

After leaving White Zombie, the acclaimed metal-theatrics band he had fronted during the early 1990's, Rob Zombie sought his own vision. Hellbilly Deluxe, released in 1998, featured classic singles "Living Dead Girl" and "Dragula," as well as live staples like "Superbeast" and "Meet The Creeper." Zombie's follow-up, 2001's The Sinister Urge continued the tradition with "Feel So Numb," "Demon Speeding" and the nearly pop-sounding "Never Gonna Stop." With Educated Horses and the well-received concert album Zombie Live butressing his musical resume, Zombie has delivered a stunning return to form with his Hellbilly Deluxe sequel.

Cunningly subtitled "Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool," the disc opens with the ominously titled "Jesus Frankenstein." The grinding rocker thankfully doesn't take advantage of its title with a dose of blasphemy, but rather berates a false and perverse impersonator of Christ. Meanwhile, "Sick Bubblegum" seems to criticize present-day media and its output, albeit with a refrain that makes perhaps the catchiest use of "motherfucker" ever. The fun continues on with "Mars Needs Women," which begins with a long, minor-keyed instrumental acoustic guitar piece before launching into a full-on metal B-movie grindhouse.

Festive is not necessarily a word normally associated with a Rob Zombie tune, but "Death And Destiny Inside The Dream Factory" manages to convey that emotion during its otherwise-deathly stomp. "Cease To Exist" employs some impressively-emoted classic rock figures, and "Werewolf, Baby!" even incorporates some downhome country guitar elements. And clocking in at nearly ten minutes, "The Man Who Laughs" incorporates some effective orchestral elements by perrenial Zombie (don't forget that he makes movies, too) composer Tyler Bates, alongside a lengthy but impressive abstract drum solo by Tommy Clufetos.

For Hellbilly Deluxe 2, Zombie uses the same line-up he's used since the Educated Horses tour (when session bassist Blasko left and replaced by Piggy 6). Together with Clufetos, Piggy and guitarist John Five, Zombie has essentially created a new band with a united sound. Nowhere is this more plain than on the pre-release single "What?", which includes a Farfisa-organ line over the 1960's beach party sound, all set to Zombie's lyrics which allude to the likes of Jack the Ripper and Fu Manchu.

Rob Zombie's cinematic output has enjoyed both pats and poundings. But the fact is, he has survived a fickle musical decade and can still command a crowd on the live stage, not to mention recording damned entertaining albums. And the day you can write a Top Forty-worthy catchy song chorus that contains vampire lovers and a cannibal man, I'll applaud you. In the meantime, that's Rob Zombie's specialty. And that's why Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is s'damned enjoyable.


Review by Petch Lucas, for Pitofhorror.com

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