The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world





Zombie’s 1998 solo debut after dissolving the mighty White Zombie was more of the same, though in a singularly more commercially focussed direction. Melding heavy metal riffs, horror movie & B-movie lyrics and dialogue samples, with a near-industrial production, the album took Zombie from underground auteur to global rock heavy hitter.


So why a sequel?


Well, 12 years on the former Robert Cummings has released a slew of albums that are all worthy, but none of which matched the heavyweight punch of Hellbilly Deluxe, and become the go-to director of choice for Hollywood horror/comic remakes (The Devils Rejects, House of A Thousand Corpses, Halloween, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, Halloween II, the Blob).


It would be easy to suspect a cashing in, a la “Bat Out Of Hell” 2 or 3, but in recent interviews Zombie has said “For me it [his first big record] was Hellbilly Deluxe, because at the time it was fresh and new. You’re never gonna be fresh and new again. I didn’t want to just go back and repeat it, because that would be pathetic. So I thought, how do I do a companion piece 10 years later and make it cool?”


Companion piece, sequel, treading old ground – whichever way you perceive it, it’s the music that matters, and this album came with a certain amount of trepidation since the original release date was pushed back several months with rumours the sessions had become “chaotic”. That doesn’t seem to have affected the end result, but we do have to question the reasoning behind inserting a several-minute long drum solo in last track “The Man Who Laughs”. Did someone say padding?


The good news is that HD2 eschews the darker, more industrial sounds of “House of A Thousand Corpses”, and sidesteps the more commercial but flaccid shot of “Educated Horses” for a sound much more reminiscent of the original “Hellbilly Deluxe”.


Zombie is right though – HD2 doesn’t sound as fresh and new as HD1 – how could it? At times it actually resembles a carbon copy, but perhaps that’s the point after all, and there is much here to like.


The soundtrack to a rollercoaster ride through a fun house of B-movie horrors, HD2 opens with ‘Jesus Frankenstein’, a rip snorter in the best ‘Dragula’ spirit; anthemic, heavy and belligerent.


‘Sick Bubblegum’ is next and its “rock motherfucker” refrain will prove a hit live – this was custom built for chanting by the sweaty masses. ‘What?’ harkens back to White Zombie days – all B-movie references and dialogue samples, where cemetaries, werewolves and vampire lovers in bikinis mate with cannibals.


‘Werewolf, Baby!’ and ‘Werewolf Women Of The SS’ (the latter sporting the same name as the faux trailer Zombie directed for Tarantino & Rodrigues’ Grindhouse movies) show off a bluesy and a Dead Kennedys style guitar respectively. ‘Dream Factory’ is a reflection on the Hollywood fantasy from one who knows, but elsewhere things are relatively predictable Zombie fare.


But should we criticise him for that? Do we criticise AC/DC, The Stones or Motorhead for following the style they invented and made their own?


Maybe sometimes, but it seems a fool’s errand to do so. “Hellbilly Deluxe 2” stands on its own merits as a solid, enjoyable slice of B-movie rifferama with a few really good songs. If Zombie makes good on his threat to make HD2 his last full length album release this may be seen in hindsight as a missed opportunity, but for now it’s a solid and fun listen.