Rob Zombie

At long last, it's the world premiere of Rob Zombie's movie House of 1000 Corpses and...sorry, still a bit premature on that announcement. My apologies--seems Universal's determined to make you wait a little while longer (like, forever) to catch Rob's directorial debut. (Which is a damn shame, since we're all dying to see what's become of Karen Allen since Raiders of the Lost Ark.) It's been a long, twisted road for Zombie since his start as a porno magazine art director. Following the logical path of career progression, he went from there to being a production assistant on the classic, and more-than-a-little-creepy, children's TV show Pee-wee's Playhouse. Naturally.

But lest we delve into what the future had in store for that show's host, let's recall that we're here today, class, to discuss the musical stylings of the former front man and psychotic driving force of White Zombie. The sad thing about White Zombie, and especially Rob himself, is that he reminds you that cartoonish, mindless heavy metal used to mean one helluva good time could be had by all. Let's face it--lyrics about evil, women, cars and evil women in cars are just fun. Rob Zombie's a constant reminder that metal used to be a blast to listen to. And still could be.

After White Zombie's first Geffen release, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. I, exploded, it also quickly became one of those debuts that artists spend their entire careers trying to catch up to. (Yeah, that's right, Axl Rose, I'm talking to you.) So Zombie stuck it out with the band a bit longer, before trotting out a solo disc (1998's Hellbilly Deluxe) that sounded identical to a White Zombie disc. Of course, it also sold much more than everything besides La Sexorcisto, so goodbye, White Zombie. Going solo allowed Zombie to have full control, while retaining an outlet for his Russ Meyer fixation and devilish leanings.

As good as Hellbilly Deluxe was, its similarities to White Zombie's sound made me wonder what the point was. The unnecessary remix disc, the following year's American Made Music to Strip By, asked this question even louder. Then his latest effort, The Sinister Urge, came out late last year and reminded me: He is--sorry, no thanks, Marilyn Manson--our era's Alice Cooper, which isn't the slam it might sound like. His unchanging mix of demonic visuals, distorted vocals and dirty riffs is welcome and, yes, comforting in this era of prefab rock and roll. The song may remain unchanged, but the road to hell is paved with dreadlocks, or something like that, and it's a journey worth taking, our mortal souls be damned.