Rob Zombie - Hellbilly Deluxe
Who else remembers those bands from your childhood, that you loved then but only occasionally (if ever at all) reflect on by listening to 'em now? I'm sure most all of us have bands in our past that we'd like to keep there, for whatever reasons. However, most bands I used to enjoy, I still do, and I recently found my extremely worn (as in, purchased the month of it's release 10 years ago) copy of Rob Zombie's Hellbilly Deluxe and instantly recalled the hundred or so times I spinned it in the years after. It was one of, if not the first album I ever purchased with my own dime and I cherised it so much that I bought a 2nd copy in case the original should some perish in an unfortunate encounter with confused parents or teachers. (I lost my first copy of Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar this way, and wasn't about to let it happen again). What appealed to me then, and still now, about Rob Zombie's solo debut wasn't that it was groundbreaking (I was familiar with White Zombie at the time and knew his new was quite like his old) or original, it was that it caught your ears right off the bat and wouldn't let go of you until it said it was over, and it did so in fairly dramatic fashion, creating hook-filled industrial hard rock/metal that could be danced to as easily as headbanged to. It simply replaced the more stoner-centric elements of White Zombie with more of the club-ready industrial techno elements Rob always experimented with before. Basically, Hellbilly Deluxe was him finally able to let all the inspirations in him loose, and the mix of horror movie cheese, Rob's sinister vocals, and the blackened glam and sleaze made almost every track on the album an instant favorite. There was a time for every song on this album to be repeated by me, but the one that always stood out as my favorite (and still today as one of the songs I couldn't live without) is "Return of the Phantom Stranger", the closing song and one that just carries a power the others don't, a song that could have been a huge hit had it not been for the media push behind also strong tracks like "Dragula" and "Living Dead Girl". This album had it all for the right fans, and it remains in my humble opinion the best thing Rob Zombie has ever been apart of musically.
I'd throw it in the vault if only I felt more people felt the same, but it misses the classic status by just a touch I think. Still, every fan of hard rock should have either heard it or owned it at one point.
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