More than 25 years into his music career, with an impressive collection of hit singles and fan favorites, and one of the biggest, most explosive and entertaining live shows, you could ever see, Rob Zombie easily could sit back, turn off the creative juices, tour a few months every year playing nothing but the same familiar songs night in and night out, and watch the checks roll in. But, you see, Mr. Zombie is not just an entertainer. He’s an artist, and whether it’s in the world of film or music, he needs to create. So after a period in the mid-2000s when it seemed like he might be done with music, he’s back and sounding more energized than ever with his fifth solo album, and third since 2006, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.
Without the lyrics in front of me, I cannot begin to tell you what Zombie is singing about, but I almost fell in love with the album before hearing it just based on some of the song titles: “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown,” “Revelation Revolution,” “White Trash Freaks,” “The Girl Who Loved the Monsters” and my favorite, “Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga” (Rob, on the off chance that you should read this, I challenge you to get a crowd to chant that chorus—I’ll give it a try!).
Sonically, the songs survey Zombie’s entire career, with some of the heavier, more metallic sounds of his White Zombie days (“Behold, the Pretty Filthy Creatures,” “Lucifer Rising,” “Trade in Your Guns for a Coffin”), the industrial-style crunch and danceable rhythms of his early solo material (“White Trash Freaks,” “The Girl Who Loved the Monsters”) and the garage-rock vibe that marked some of his more recent output (“Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown”), along with a vintage, good-time, party-rock anthem (a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band,” which is just waiting to burn up radio airwaves). Though I still rank the first Hellbilly Deluxe as Zombie’s best recording, followed closely by White Zombie’s Astro Creep, VRRV is an album that, though the songs are different, gives the listener a feel for what it’s like, aurally, to experience Zombie live in concert. Because of the state of the music industry today, it isn’t likely to be as big as those now-classic records, but VRRV might be his most complete effort to date.