You know the name. You know his music. You know his films. You damn well know that he is an icon and a force to be reckoned with in the world of heavy metal, horror films, and the dark side of entertainment. For those of you that are new to this, his name is Rob Zombie. He is an acclaimed horror film director, and the writer and performer of six gut-wrenchingly heavy studio albums. Welcome to his world.
In this article, we'll be taking a brief look at the history surrounding his six studio albums (his work with White Zombie will not be included in this article). Join us as we take a look back in a feature that we like to call Discography Explored.
Hellbilly Deluxe: 13 Tales of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside The Spookshow International
Release Date: August 25, 1998
Producer: Rob Zombie and Scott Humphrey
Hillbilly Deluxe was the first solo record from Rob Zombie. Fresh off of releasing two multi-platinum studio albums with the band White Zombie (who had disbanded), Rob decided to embark on his own and make something of his own. With lyrics surrounding topics of murder, chaos, and the supernatural, this proved to be a successful showcase of not only Zombie's love for heavy metal and electronic sounds, but his admiration of horror films and the all around dark and twisted.
Recording for the album took about ten months to complete, with the majority being recorded at The Chop Shop in Hollywood. Since he didn't have a traditional band setup as he did in White Zombie, Rob enlisted guitarist Mike Riggs, bassist Blasko, and drummer John Tempesta. Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee even helped record some of the tracks. Initially, Zombie had enlisted Nine Inch Nails member Charlie Clouser to produce the album, but the two were unable to find time to work together due to previous obligations. Clouser recommended that Zombie work with producer Scott Humphrey, whose clients included Metallica. Clouser did have one contribution early on, which was producing the track "Superbeast".
The album received positive reception, and went on to debut at number five on the Billboard 200 charts in America, selling 121,000 copies in its first week. The album had managed to outsell the first week sales of all four White Zombie solo albums. By September, it had been certified gold, and platinum by November 4. In 2000, it was certified as triple platinum.
The Sinister Urge
Release Date: November 13, 2001
Label: Geffen Records
Producer: Scott Humphrey
If something is great the first time, why change it? Zombie returned to The Chop Shop with producer Scott Humphrey to record the follow up to Hellbilly, entitled The Sinister Urge. Zombie sought to work with several different writers on various songs throughout the record, including none other than the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne (they worked on the track "Iron Head") and thrash metal superstar Kerry King of Slayer (guitar solo on "Dead Girl Superstar"). The tracks themselves had much more of an emphasis on the instrumental aspect, whereas Hellbilly featured more industrial and electronic elements. It was also the final album from Rob Zombie to feature Mike Riggs on guitar and John Tempesta on drums. While critical reviews were mixed, it quickly became a fan favorite. To this day, The Sinister Urge has been certified double platinum.
Release Date: March 28, 2006
Label: Geffen Records
Producer: Rob Zombie & Scott Humphrey
Back to the Chop Shop we go! Educated Horses went on to be the most experimental album in Rob Zombie's arsenal. It was also the first to feature guitarist John 5, drummer Tommy Clufetos, as well as the last that would feature longtime bassist Blasko.
During the writing process of the record, working with John 5 led to quite a bit of sound experimentation, particularly with acoustics (see "Sawdust in the Blood" and "Death of It All"). While there was a more mainstream element to some of the tracks ("Foxy Foxy"), the Zombie we know and love was still there ("The Scorpion Sleeps", "17 Year Locust").
The album came in strong at number five on the Billboard 200, selling 120,000 copies in the first week, and it earned a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance of 2008 with the track "The Lords of Salem".
Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool
Release Date: February 2, 2010
Label: Roadrunner/Loud & Proud
Producer: Rob Zombie
It's 2008, and Hellbilly Deluxe 2 had been finished recording. The release date, however, was pushed to November 2009 due his commitments with filming Halloween II, as there wouldn't be enough time to push the record before their tour. While it was originally going to be released through Geffen, Zombie ended up signing to Roadrunner. At the same time, this was the first album where Zombie worked with his touring band on writing, thus solidifying the full band lineup (note: drummer Tommy Cluefetos left the band in early 2010, prior to the release of the album, in order to become the drummer for Ozzy Osbourne.)
The album received positive critical reviews, and landed at number eight on the Billboard 200, selling a total of 49,000 copies in its first week.
Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Label: Zodiac Swan Records/T-Boy Records/Universal Music Enterprises
Producer: Bob Marlette
2013 seemed to be a fun year for Zombie. Four days after the release of his film The Lords of Salem, he released Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, his fifth studio album. It became the first record to feature drummer Ginger Fish (previously a member of Marilyn Manson, along with John 5), and it was one hell of a record. Critically, the reviews were mixed, but it didn't stop it from landing at number seven on the Billboard 200.
The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser
Release Date: April 29, 2016
Label: Zodiac Sawn Records/T-Boy Records/Universal Music
Fast forward to 2016, and we have Zombie's most insane record to date. It clocks in at just barely thirty minutes long, and is even described by him as "seriously our heaviest most fucked up musical monster to date". With an album title like The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser and a first single entitled "Well, Everybody's Fucking In A U.F.O.", you literally have no choice but to want to listen and figure out what this madness is. Its release debuted at number six on the Billboard 200, and has become Zombie's sixth consecutive top-ten album.
With his albums, music, and lyrics as crazy as they are, we can only wonder what Rob Zombie has in store for album seven. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we find out, but make sure that you catch him live this summer on the Return Of The Dreads Tour. His live show is one to remember, and one that you can't miss.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.