It seems to be a trend that an album follows not long after a film with Rob Zombie, as his latest cinematic venture The Lords of Salem hit UK shelves last week and now we have the awkwardly-titled ‘Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor’ to tickle our ears. It’s been three years since ‘Hellbilly Deluxe 2’, where he changed direction from the stripped-down approach of 2006’s ‘Educated Horses’ and returned to the glorious pyro-burning, industrial-tinged, anthemic shock rock that he made his own since going solo from White Zombie.
So what does “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” sound like and where does it fit in? Is it representative of where Zombie is at with his film career, as The Lords of Salem is a very different beast to his previous films, or is he simply having fun again after seemingly losing a little of his mojo where his music career was concerned? Well, for a start the album does sound fantastically energised, with Rob barking his nonsensical B-movie lyrics over some truly joyous rock n’ roll-influenced party metal, and that isn’t glammy party metal like Poison or Mötley Crüe but up-beat songs that will have all the ghouls down at the cemetery shaking their bones in approval.
Zombie‘s backing band – featuring former Marilyn Manson alumni John 5 on guitar and Ginger Fish on drums plus former Alice Cooper/Wednesday 13 bassist Piggy D. – are a virtual supergroup of shock rock royalty and are as tight as a rubber nun’s habit, with tracks like ‘Dead City Radio’ and ‘The New Gods of Supertown’ sounding like the speed-induced ravings of a young and hungry garage band who’ve happened to capture a top-notch production.
There are other things going on here, though, like the looser hard rock vibe of ‘Revelation Revolution’ that would make a great single if if wasn’t for the “She’s got the gun – get it done” line that would no doubt ruffle some feathers. ‘Rock and Roll (In a Black Hole)’ is very reminiscent of Joe Jackson‘s ‘Steppin’ Out’ as it begins with a pulsing bass and programmed drum beat before exploding into more typical Rob Zombie fare with it’s “All we wanna do is rock n’ roll” tagline.
In truth there are very few surprises here, but that isn’t such a bad thing. Most of the songs cover familiar ground that Zombie has done before with his two “Hellbilly Deluxe” albums, but the sense of a band reinvigorated gives the whole thing a lift. A cover of Grand Funk Railroad‘s ‘We’re an American Band’ doesn’t sound like a good fit for a cover version on paper but sonically it fits with the anthemic vibe that permeates the album. So overall it’s another enjoyable slice of monster madness that only Rob Zombie could concoct and make it all so much damn fun.