Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 21: White Zombie, "La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1"

Artist: White Zombie
Album: La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1
Year: 1992
Label: Geffen

Aside from cliché tales of excess and a hole in the ozone layer, it goes without saying that there was not all that much "amazing" music to come out of the "hair metal" movement of the late 1980's. However, the "push back" against the trend DID yield a fair amount of significant musical contributions. By fusing the pop appeal of the "hair metal" style with other musical forms, bands like Soundgarden and a re-focused Guns N' Roses flourished at the onset of the 1990's. Taking a far darker, and far funkier approach to this new musical fusion was a band already nearly a decade into their career: New York City's own circus-style metalheads, White Zombie. The latter half of their career was scattered with a number of fantastic albums, but easily their finest work can be found in their 1992 breakthrough record, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1.

The key to the success of La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1 was undoubtedly the unlikely radio hit, "Thunder Kiss '65." The song itself is an ode to the 1965 film, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and the notorious vocal sample in the middle of the song comes from the film. However, the song took quite some to catch on within the mainstream. The fact of the matter is, "Thunder Kiss '65" was released THREE times as a single before it caught the attention of anyone beyond metalheads. To make things even more unlikely, the person who caught onto the song was a young animator named Mike Judge. Soon after hearing it, Judge featured the video on his new cartoon, Beavis & Butthead. The youth of America quickly fell in love with the video (and the cartoon), and the rapid success of the single would lead to a Grammy nomination for "Best Metal Song" in 1993. "Thunder Kiss '65" has gone on to be featured in a number of films, video games, and it has been covered on recorded easily a dozen times since its release.

The band, who took their name from the 1932 Bela Legosi film of the same name, masterfully combine funky, frantic rhythms, with some of the most aggressive, crushing music of its time. A classic four piece, the bands' music centers around the driving, pulverizing guitar riffs from the man simply known as "J." When J rips into any of his lightning fast solos, it becomes clear that he is far more than a headbanger with three chords in his pocket. Drummer Ivan de Prume proves to be one of the finest drummers of the decade, constantly shifting tempos mid-song, and managing to incorporate things like tambourines into the heavy metal sound, without making it sound silly. Perhaps the most significant attribute of the music of White Zombie is in their bass player. Sean Yseult is without a doubt one of the most talented bass players in any metal-based band ever...she is also certainly one of the most attractive. Quickly becoming a "poster girl" for hard rockers and metalheads, Yseult was an underground icon in every sense of the word. With a combination of talent and looks that remain largely unrivaled to this day, her bass skill would eventually take her to a short stint with legendary goth-punk band, The Cramps.

As amazing as the music of White Zombie is, the band absolutely revolved around one man, the bands' founder, the one and only Rob Zombie. First off, combining his works with White Zombie, as well as his solo albums, the FACT is, Rob Zombie has more gold and platinum records than ANY other artist in the history of Geffen Records (that includes Nirvana, Aerosmith, and Snoop Doog, among others). Rob's signature gritty, borderline yelling, spooky vocal delivery is one of the most recognizable voices in the history of music. Throwing things like tact and filtering to the side, the lyrics of White Zombie are graphic tales of demons, devils, fast cars, and faster women. Singing with a sexy, sleazy, and snarky style, combined with his signature growl, the mix of the lyrical content and delivery give the music of White Zombie a strangely sensual appeal. However, those who are easily offended or "put off" my lyrics that go well beyond "suggestive" might want to skip this album...or get a life and enjoy this brilliant piece of musical mayhem!
Oh, if that's not enough to get you to go get this record, some guy named Iggy Pop lends his vocals on the track "Black Sunshine."

Simply put, there is no other band throughout the history of music that even remotely compares to the power and brilliance of White Zombie. Taking the power rhythms perfectly by bands like Metallica, and fusing them together with deep, funky grooves, and finishing them off with sinister, yet sexually charged lyrics makes this band quickly rise above the rest. Coming to prominence thanks to the success of "Thunder Kiss '65," White Zombie would solidify their place in the history books with their follow-up album, 1995's Astro Creep: 2000. Though they've not performed together in nearly a decade, both the band, as well as Rob Zombie himself remain relevant in today's music scene, and the band continues to be cited as an influence by many current metal and hard rock acts. Crating heart-pumping, loud and fast hard rock, White Zombie are a band the likes of which have never been seen. Their 1993 album,
La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1 is an absolute musical masterpiece and should have a prominent place in every music collection.

Standout tracks: "Thunder Kiss '65," "Black Sunshine," and "Starface."

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