And the Most Underrated Album of 2016 Goes To: Rob Zombie

2016 was one of the best years in modern music history, it had some incredible releases. Even if I didn’t enjoy all the big albums of that year, it’s undeniable that music fans had multiple albums to fondle over. We had David Bowie’s Blackstar at the beginning of 2016, Beyonce’s Lemonade, Radiohead, Frank Ocean finally released his sophomore album, Kanye, Bon Iver, A Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave, Car Seat Headrest, Rihanna, Chance, The Avalanches; the list is fucking insane. People tend to forget that all this great music was released in 2016. My wallet was empty, thanks to all these released, mostly because I was still buying CDs back then — my car stereo wasn’t all that flash. And one album I bought day one was Rob Zombie’s The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser, it’s a mouthful, and one of the most underrated and under-appreciated albums of 2016.

It’s not on any Best Of lists, unless you’re looking at the How to Prepare for Satan lists; you know the articles written by guys who wear black trench coats and smear black makeup over their face and only sleep through the day. And I’m no kitten slaughtering Satan worshiper, but it is one of the best albums of 2016; an album that no one listened to an album that people have forgotten about. In saying that, Zombie does have a large cult following thanks to his many albums and devilishly tortuous horror movies. I fall under that category. I was a fan of Rob Zombie before I even knew who he was thanks to a little Playstation game called Twisted Metal 4. It’s a demolition car game I used to play as a ten-year-old and Zombie’s OG singles like Dragula and Superbeast were on the soundtrack. I was tapping along in my Sketchers to lyrics like “Dead I am the one, exterminating son, slipping through the trees, strangling the breeze,” my wallet chain crashing against my ripped jeans.

But really, I’ve been a Zombie fan since the first time I saw House of 1000 Corpses back when I probably shouldn’t have, and it’s just one of those things where if you like his movies, you’ll like his music. His music is devilish, paying homage to old horror movies with samples of black and white horror flicks that have been manipulated until they are deep and gravelly and demonic. Meanwhile his hillbilly twang groans over the heavily distorted guitars that screech and sore — thanks to legendary guitarist John 5 — amongst the deep double kicks and crashing cymbals.

Electric Warlock is Zombie’s heaviest and most fucked up album, but it’s also his most well produced. In the opener, The Last of the Demons Defeated, hollow organs play as if we’ve gathered around a circle for a witch’s séance. Heavy drums begin pounding through, perfectly mixed to the point you can distinctly hear the different tones of each drum. Screams from a horror flick are mixed over and distorted guitars roar a deep howl. It’s classic Zombie.

Satanic Cyanide follows, carrying an industrial tone that Zombie fans have come to enjoy. Screeching guitar notes contrast against the thicker, deeper chords and drums crash creating a thick orgy of sounds. It’s heavy stuff, but enjoyable. There’s always an element of sex and seduction to Rob Zombie’s music, like in The Life and Times of a Teenage Rock God. It’s sexy, thanks to the slower rhythm and the driving beat; it’s something you can get down and dirty to. Zombie flirts with danger and horror and sex and that’s what makes his metal stand out amongst a genre of copycats.

The seductiveness continues on Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a UFO. It’s a dumb title, and the song isn’t as heavy as previous Zombie tracks, but it’s still classic Zombie. A sampled loop opens the track saying, “well you get to fuck the prettiest,” against a funky, over-distorted bass line. Zombie’s hillbilly vocals are in full force here, adding to the humour of the song; obviously the lyrics aren’t going to be all that serious. Zombie doesn’t take himself too seriously, and it’s plain that the band are having a bit of fun.

Zombie dabbles with some electronics on In the Age of the Concentrated Vampire We All Get High, adding to the horrific tones him and his band conjure up. It’s reminiscent of Limp Bizkit, holding the nu-metal torch high. The album ends with Wurdalek, a horrifically heavy mix of industrial metal and satanic tones. It’s one of Zombie’s heaviest songs, bringing elements of horror film into play with old radio show style voices creeping in and out of the music.

Zombie isn’t for everyone, obviously, or this album would have gained more traction back in ’16. Clocking in at just thirty-one minutes, Electric Warlock is a short, snappy punch to the gut melding horror, danger, and sex in a seductively heavy witches’ brew. To be honest, I hold this much higher than The Avalanches, Frank Ocean and Bon Iver’s 2016 albums. Now if you excuse me, there’s a séance I’m running late for, and I forgot to pick up the goat.

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