Rob Zombie has been using the same formula, with varying degrees of success, since 1986. From White Zombie’s early Noise Rock beginnings, through the more Industrial/Groove Metal aesthetic of “La Sexorcisto” and “Astro Creep: 2000” that made the man famous in the 1990’s, and seven solo albums spanning over two decades, what has worked for Zombie throughout works just as well today. What hasn’t worked for Zombie the past thirty five years still doesn’t work. One has to imagine that Rob Zombie is well aware of his carnival freak show status, and that it doesn’t bother him in the slightest. Why? Because millions of people, including myself, continue to buy tickets to ride the rickety rails of the middle-aged Zombie-coaster.
On his new effort, “The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy,” Zombie does exactly the same thing he did with 2016’s “The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser,” which was exactly the same thing he did with 2013’s “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor,” which was a huge step down from 2010’s “Hellbilly Deluxe 2,” which was the best thing he had done since the original “Hellbilly Deluxe” in 1998. That is Rob Zombie’s solo career in a nutshell, and just in case you’re wondering, yes… I am a fan. A rather large one, truth be told, and if you’re looking for a “guilty pleasure” admission out of me, you’ll be quite disappointed.
Let me tell you a little secret. In 1992 my friends and I were fans of White Zombie because nobody else on the planet sounded like White Zombie. And Rob, ever the faux-spooky frontman, wasn’t the best singer or the best lyricist, but he was Rob fucking Zombie, so it mattered less than the color of a monkey’s ass. “Thunder Kiss ‘65” was and still is a bad ass tune. “More Human Than Human,” “Black Sunshine,” “Supercharger Heaven,” “Electric Head, Part 2”… all bad ass tunes. Zombie’s first decade of solo output gave us “Living Dead Girl,” “Dragula,” “Superbest,” and “Meet The Creeper,” all mini-horror B-movie romps in the proverbial hay, as well as title tracks to literal horror movies, eventually directed by Zombie, “Lords of Salem,” “House of 1000 Corpses,” and “The Devil’s Rejects.” The man is a goddamned legend, and he gets points for originality simply because he is who he has made himself, has never tried to be anyone or anything else, and still remains the only soul on earth who sounds the way Rob Zombie sounds. You don’t have to enjoy that sound to appreciate the facts (Nobody else on the planet sounds like Don Henley either, and I can’t stand that lemon-sucking voice of his).
“The Lunar Injection…” doesn’t break much new ground, but it doesn’t need to. In fact, whenever Zombie branches off and tries to do something a little different, it just doesn’t work out in his favor (“Educated Horses”, for example, was nightmarish in all the wrong ways). Songs like “The Triumph of King Freak,” “The Eternal Struggles of Howling Man,” and “Shadow of the Cemetery Man” are tailor made for arena overhead handclaps, strobe lights, topless dancers, and smoke machines. Zombie, with copious amounts of good natured “motherfuckers” and trademark “yeah’s,” along with the always positively infectious guitar wizardry of John 5, make the albums thirty-six minute run time seem just about perfect.
When they’re finally able to take the show on the road, my guess is the aforementioned trio of tunes (and possibly “Shake Your Ass Smoke Your Grass”) will be Zombified staples in the set. And after all these years, aside from the fact that Zombie and 5 clearly love doing the voodoo that they do so well (regardless of whose ears are on the other end), keeping the setlist updated is really the only reason to keep releasing new material. At this point a Zombie show could last damn near three hours, and fans would eat up every second.
Are there better Zombie records? Of course. But what “The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy” manages to do is inject just enough newness into the Zombie corpse to keep things interesting, which is all anybody with a career as long as his can ever hope to do.
Rating – 3.7/5