Zombie, Rob: Educated Horses (Music)

Produced by Rob Zombie and Scott Humphrey <!– zoom:/img/Reviews/ –>

Released on Geffen Records

When Rob Zombie wrote, directed, and released House of 1000 Corpses, he was viewed by many as a heavy metal musician who had made a horror movie as a “side project.”  But when he released his second major motion picture, The Devil’s Rejects, in 2005, it was clear that the roles had been reversed. Now, Rob Zombie was an acclaimed film director who may—or may not—ever return to front the band that bears his name.

But in 2005, at exactly the same time that The Devil’s Rejects was opening in theaters, Zombie hit the road with some new bandmates as they headlined the second stage at Ozzfest.  It was also announced that he would finally be releasing an album of new material, his first since 2001’s The Sinister Urge.  That new album, of course, is Educated Horses.

It’s no surprise then that, after five years away from making music, Educated Horses shows a marked departure from much of what Rob Zombie has released previously, either in his solo career or with his former band, White Zombie. Gone are many of the signature sounds found on such Zombie solo efforts as 1998’s Hellbilly Deluxe or The Sinister Urge including the thunderous guitars, aggressive electronic drums, keyboards, and Gothic stylings. Most notably absent, however, is the overt horror vibe that has marked the entirety of his musical career including the song titles, album covers, and horror movie clips that had been found throughout his CD releases.  Simply stated, Educated Horses is a very stripped-down version of the music Rob Zombie fans have come to know and love, and many may be disappointed by what they hear—or don’t hear.

Educated Horses does start off on a very promising note, however, as the melancholic piano, drums, and acoustic guitar in the instrumental “Sawdust in the Blood” lead into “American Witch,” the album’s strongest track.  With a memorable guitar riff reminiscent of White Zombie’s heaviest moments, “American Witch” creates an expectation that the rest of the songs on Educated Horses simply cannot live up to.  This quickly becomes evident as the disc’s next three tracks—“Foxy Foxy,” “17 Year Locust,” and “The Scorpion Sleeps”—all suffer from lackluster choruses that seem to drag on and on.  In fact, Educated Horses is weighed down repeatedly by songs such as these which are lifeless, repetitive, and, well, boring. Even the contributions from such accomplished musicians as Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee and A Perfect Circle’s Josh Freese (both drummers), guitarist John 5 (formerly of Marilyn Manson), and drummer Tommy Clufetos (formerly of the Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper bands) aren’t enough to elevate these songs from their mediocrity.

The “old” Rob Zombie sound (a la Hellbilly Deluxe) does rear its head with the relentless “Let It All Bleed Out,” a track that follows on the heels of yet another haunting instrumental, “100 Years.”  The White Zombie days are even reflected here in the song “Ride,” which has a very similar vibe to “Blood, Milk, and Sky” from 1995’s Astro-Creep: 2000.

“Death of it All” is one of the only tracks on Educated Horses that offers a sound and style unique to Zombie’s past musical ventures. The string section and acoustic guitar create a hypnotic element that allows the track to excel despite another repetitive chorus.  And though the track “The Devil’s Rejects” isn’t all that memorable, it is worth noting simply due to the fact that it may indeed be the true swan song for the Firefly clan.

While there is certainly a faction of people who will seemingly like anything and everything Zombie puts out—and after a career as lengthy and accomplished as his, perhaps he’s earned that—Educated Horses simply doesn’t reach the standards that Zombie himself has established.

Track Listing
1. Sawdust In The Blood
2. American Witch 
3. Foxy Foxy 
4. 17 Year Locust 
5. The Scorpion Sleeps 
6. 100 Ways 
7. Let It All Bleed Out 
8. Death Of It All 
9. Ride 
10. The Devil’s Rejects 
11. The Lords Of Salem 

2 out of 5

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