Rob Zombie has sure been a busy boy lately... then again, I can't recall a time when he wasn't juggling at least three projects at once. But this year, he's got some major stuff in the pipe: not only is he putting the finishing touches on his long-awaited epic The Lords of Salem, he's also laying the groundwork for his first non-horror film project: a real-life hockey drama about the notorious 1974 Philadelphia Flyers, described by Rob as “Rocky meets Boogie Nights on ice.” He's also gearing up for this fall's massive “Twins of Evil” tour, co-headlining with fellow shock-rock icon Marilyn Manson. About the only thing missing is a new album of original material... but in the meantime, Universal is ready to roll out a thirteen-track collection of RZ remixes next week, with some big-name DJs putting their own (literal) spin on classic cuts from his solo career as well as a couple of White Zombie favorites. Read on for a full review, and take a peek at the album's original CD artwork, which was considered too naughty for store shelves (hint: it's not the one with the cat).
Prior to the full-length Mondo Sex Head, Rob released two EPs previewing some of the album tracks, with some bonus material added, but this will be the first full-length Zombie remix album released since 1999's American Made Music to Strip By. While that album and its 1996 predecessor Supersexy Swingin' Sounds featured reboots by German industrial metallers Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails alumni Charlie Clouser & Chris Vrenna and techno legends the Dust Brothers, this 21st-century collection is tweaked by popular DJs, producers and electro bands like Ki: Theory, Photek, Bloody Beetroots and JDevil (otherwise known as KoRn's Jonathan Davis). This experiment, which originated when Rob found out how often DJs were incorporating his riffs and beats into their sets, falls in line with recent crossover projects between metal and electronic dance music, like Korn's collaboration with electro house, dubstep, drum 'n' bass and other dance genre producers on last year's The Path of Totality. Mondo doesn't take quite the same approach, but you'll definitely hear the connecting threads.
The source material goes back to the first big White Zombie hit "Thunderkiss '65,” which lays down a rubber road thanks to a bizarre, effects-heavy but rock solid “Number of the Beast” remix by Davis. “More Human Than Human” is revisited by electro space-drone unit Big Black Delta. Naturally Rob's most popular and club-friendly album Hellbilly Deluxe gets serious attention here, with Photek's barely decipherable chill-trance version of “Living Dead Girl,” the retro-beat-fest “††† Remix” of “Dragula,” and a chunky bass-rocking interpretation of “Superbeast” from Kraddy of Glitch Mob. From The Sinister Urge, we get the ultra-heavy Drumcorps Acid Mix of “Never Gonna Stop.”
Also in the spotlight are three Educated Horses remixes: "Let It All Bleed Out" gets a fairly standard dubstep treatment from Document One, but "Foxy Foxy" by Ki: Theory is a wilder and way less predictable beast; the same artist goes for spooky atmosphere on "Pussy Liquor,” keeping it in line with the psychedelic horrors of House of 1000 Corpses. On "Lords of Salem,” Das Kapital lets the guitars do most of the driving (smart choice), but beat-wise, it's a complete high-performance rebuild.
From Hellbilly Deluxe 2, we get Griffin Boice's aggressive spin on "Mars Needs Women," and "Burn" gets amped up and crunched all to hell in a “Motherfucker Mix” by Italian electro-punk unit Bloody Beetroots, another powerhouse achievement. Topping Photek's entry for alien weirdness is Tobias Enhus' version of “Devil's Hole Girls,” featuring the Jane Antonia Cornish String Quartet. It's a strange fit, made even more insane by a barrage of sound manipulation, but the oddest thing about it is that it actually works.
If you're in the group that has always found Zombie's brand of industrial-strength groove metal fairly dance-worthy, then you'll get on board this heavy beat machine easily enough. It was actually cool to discover how well the early tracks stand up to some pretty intense tweakage, bridging the gap not only between shock-rock and club beats, but between '90s electro-metal tech and the glitch-happy modern dance era. With only a few minor rough patches, it's still a hell of a fun ride.
Oh yeah, about that album art... when it came to the original cover shown above, featuring an artsy black & white shot of Sheri Moon Zombie's glorious rump, Rob was surprised to find that no stores would stock the physical CD. "I never thought it would be a problem since it seemed tame to me,” he recently told Rolling Stone. “But it was. Anything with death and violence is totally fine, but anything with sex, forget about it. So instead of censoring that cover and ruining it, I just removed the ass shot and replaced it with a pussy shot.” This explains why we're left with what looks like a lo-res pic of the family cat with special effects by a five-year-old. Rob did have some fun with the cover though, as you can play “Find the Zombie Cats” on his official site. It's actually worth playing, because solving the puzzle will unlock a bonus track.