Rob Zombie – Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor Review

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Maine Music News, as you probably could have guessed, will be at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion when the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival pulls into Bangor. Sure, you’d expect Christopher to be there, but I’m heading down as well to indulge in my first Mayhem adventure. That’s right, I’m casting my Skynyrd comfort zone aside and heading over to the dark side – I’ve heard they have cookies. I’m in training, and training means cozying up to the latest release from headliner, Rob Zombie.

So my secret is out, I’m not a longtime Zombie aficionado. Short of standing drop-jawed watching clips of his stage show and having “Dragula” embedded in my unconscious for weeks on end, I’m a Zombie newbie. I don’t get paid enough to pretend otherwise. But “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor,” Zombie’s fifth solo effort, released April 23, 2013, has made me a believer.

The critics, longtime Zombie fans, are digging this cd. They say he has gone deeper, balances old and new musical strengths, and created the album that fans have been waiting for. Good – that means I’m not the only one who thinks “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” is full of entertaining crash, just enough raunch, side-splitting rock, and cinematic prowess.

I’m of the age to have collected several friends who heavily indulged in the chemical possibilities of the 60s and 70s. I’m not naming any names, but you know who you are. After my first listen to this cd, I wondered if Zombie had hijacked my contact list and set their stories, descriptions, and other bizarre shit to music. It felt like a wild music soundtrack without the bother of the pesky video to get in the way. Peppered with B-movie audio clips, provocative soft porn moans, and classic horror movie sound effects, of course, it feels like a soundtrack – but somehow, Zombie, and his team, has created mental images, filled in the spaces with clever mashings of language, and developed a sort of loose storyline. And apparently that was kind of his plan based on the interview below –

So let’s get down to business –

While Zombie is at the helm of this carnival ride on vocals and ultimate arranging of songs, he is backed up by drummer Ginger Fish, John 5 on guitar, and bass is held down by Piggy D. Catch Piggy D.’s interview in May 2013 with Maine Music News. These musicians bring substantial musical experience and talent, clever song writing, and share in the development of what Zombie fans know and love – the theatrics of the stage show. Maybe my feminist sensibilities have been somewhat stretched by the likes of Kurt Sutter, but Zombie stops short of vulgarity on “Venomous…” And believe me, I’d have noticed if this was all just gratuitous shock-crotch lyrics – I hate that. Delving deeper into the lyrics and musical style that this collection of artists has created, I am impressed and entertained. The music is full of catchy hooks, tongue in cheek use of pop culture, and saturated heavy rock and roll sound. And it is fun.

Cut by Cut Rundown –

#1 – Teenage Nosferatu Pussy ~ Stacking classic horror movie images like cordwood for lyrics alongside storming, slamming drums and guitar, this song sets the grinding thrill ride tone for the cd. Buckle up, he has a buggy whip.

#2 – Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown ~ A jealous P.T. Barnum rolls over in his grave every time this single hits the airwaves. Growling, Zombie strings infectious hooks within pounding industrial rhythm. This is a classic. Check out the video.

#3 – Revelation Revolution ~ Ginger Fish’s drumming is easily accessible here and John 5’s guitar work comes to the forefront. Add lyrics thick with pop culture and cinematic vignette, able to make listeners either grin or shiver – “Jackbooted monkey with a lightning rod….we are what we are…”

#4 – Theme for the Rat Vendor ~ Some critics have complained that this doesn’t work for the cd. It is a Middle Eastern belly-danceable minute. Now we know the Rat Vendor likes spangles on his ladies. If I was Zombie, I’d do whatever the hell I wanted.

#5 – Ging Gang Gong de do Gong de Laga Raga ~ Again, if I was Zombie, I’d do whatever the hell I wanted, and that may explain this title, but it does strangely work in the song. Did I say, strange? Strange may be the new normal. Here we have distortion on the vocals, heavy bass, and pounding drums. You will want to play this loud and you scream out the lyrics with throaty glee. (Maybe not if your kid is in the car – but you will want to…) “Strapped behind the wheel of a flatbed truck, a payload of pussy and Peking duck. High on the fumes and high on the gas, rally ‘round the girl with the skull on her ass.” At least her ass isn’t advertising “pink.” Just saying.

#6 – Rock and Roll (in a Black Hole) ~ Electronica and a whispering Zombie lists “monkeys on the bed style” before exploding “We are all dancing in a black hole when all we want to do is rock and roll.” Danceable, fists in the air, and wild. My favorite line is the movie sample – “you may think you’re normal.” Nope, too late for that.

#7 – Behold, the Pretty Filthy Creatures ~ This rips along at an even faster pace and offers a chance to hear the full force of the boys in the band.

# 8 – White Trash Freaks ~ …in a boogaloo town.” (Boogaloo is actually a dance style that originated in the 60s.) Mixing guttural stylings and rock with stomping lyrical structure and plugs of electronica, this will be stuck in your head and go around and around.

# 9 – We’re an American Band ~ Grand Funk Railroad, Zombie-style. This is fierce, but Zombie never destroys or abandons the original version that we skated to on Saturday night at the roller rink. Zombie finds an even deeper growl, conjuring a darker edge to the story. Cowbell and all, the riffs are there, and the show drives on – hard.

#10 – Lucifer Rising ~ This time it is frantic, manic even, but the band can be taken to their pieces and relished. John 5 slices through the beat and balances the theatrics, letting us dive deep into his guitar. Ginger Fish, remarkable throughout the cd, is relentless. Piggy D. fills the roaring, grinding, open road feel of the song.

#11 – The Girl Who Loved the Monsters ~ I’ve already gushed about the lyrics here on “Venomous…,” but I love the lyrics here even more. I love language, and apparently so does Zombie and his fellow writers. Monster movie intensity dwells here, ready to chase you down a dark path through the woods… “Set them free. Let them be. The monsters live in you and me.”

#12 – Trade in Your Guns for a Coffin ~ Raise your hands in the air, sing it loud, and watch the politician’s assholes slam shut, my friends. This is a chainsaw ripping through the end of the cd. It’s better to explode than to fade away.

Christopher said that he enjoys “Venomous…” but it is too short. Hit repeat, I offered. But I do know what he means. This collection is fast and over at about the time I’m starting to really groove. The songs feel a bit shortened as well. But I can appreciate that. Don’t drag it out, make your point, leave a mark, and move on. Zombie has created a wild monster ride in “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” with all the spectacle and fun of a night at the fairgrounds, behind the grandstand, funky rock and roll coming out of the speakers, with the people your mother warned you about …and this time you’re all in.

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