Hey, guys. Dash Jordan here, and I think it’s time for a little pick-me-up after that last review. The Season of The Witch is upon us, I can’t think of a more appropriate time than now to bring back the Creeper himself! Mr. Rob Zombie!
I’ve talked a lot about his filmography up until now. Today, I’d figure we’d take a break from film and go into what the man does best. Now, what to listen to? On one hand, you have Rob’s original band, White Zombie. While the Noise/Industrial/Heavy Metal hybrid band itself may have had a rocky departure once Rob went solo, that doesn’t change the fact that this band created some of the catchiest in Rock & Roll history. But then, there’s Rob Zombie’s solo career. Not only has Zombie’s popularity and recognition grew to even further heights at this point of his career, but is still finding success to this day. Both of these periods of Zombie’s career have one thing in common, however…both have what is widely considered two of the most popular, successful, and important Zombie albums ever made; White Zombie’s final album, ‘Astro-Creep 2000’ and Rob Zombie’s first solo album, ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’. Guys, it’s been a VERY long time since I’ve done a Dash Versus. What better time than now, right? Could I possibly be committing career suicide? Who knows? Can’t delay the inevitable any longer, it’s time to finally decide which is the better album. Ladies & Gentlemen…White Zombie or Rob Zombie? It’s ‘Astro-Creep’ versus ‘Hellbilly’!
Round 1: Drums(John Tempesta)
Okay, so this first round is going to be a little weird because there’s no other person to compare to. Both albums feature the amazing talents of John Tempesta. So, the real question is, which album was Tempesta better in? In ‘Astro-Creep’, we see a little bit of experimentation with the music, but the album is still more of a Metal album than anything that came after. So, you could make the argument that the drumming in ‘Astro-Creep’ is much more hard-hitting and aggressive. Especially with songs like ‘Super-Charger Heaven’.
Then there’s Tempesta’s work on ‘Hellbilly’. This album completely runs with the experimentation, making for a more Industrial Metal sound. While the drums may not sound as aggressive or raw as ‘Astro-Creep’, but it also benefits from the cleaner sound as Rob was starting to go in a different direction. For example, Dragula; arguably one of the best songs from that album.
Seems evenly matched. Same drummer, different sounds, yet both iconic and energetic in their own right. However, ‘Hellbilly’ has a slight ace in the hole. That would be guest drummer on the album legendary Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee who offers his services on two of the songs for ‘Hellbilly’. One of which being ‘Meet The Creeper’, one of my personal favorites.
Tempesta shines on both albums, but the fact that shares the credit on drums with one of the all-time greats simply adds to the awesomeness of the ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ album. Winner by a Tommy Lee, Tempesta beats…Tempesta.
Astro-Creep 2000-0 / Hellbilly Deluxe-1
Round 2: Bass(Sean Yseult vs. Blasko)
I’m just gonna come right out and say it, Sean Yseult is one of the greatest bassists of all time for good reason. While she had some success with other bands, the former girlfriend of Rob Zombie had a unique style that added to White Zombie’s Heavy/Groove/Industrial sound. Just listen to ‘Electric Head, Pt. 2’, which I personally feel showcases her aggressiveness on the bass guitar perfectly.
Then there’s Rob Zombie’s bassist, Rob Nicholson; better known as Blasko.
Once again, ‘Hellbilly’ takes a much more Industrial approach. Blasko adds to that by giving us sleeker yet darker bass lines. His style is in full force on the track, ‘Return of The Phantom Stranger’.
As much as I love Blasko’s work, especially on this album. I’m going to have to give this point to Sean Yseult. Reason being, the sound of White Zombie probably wouldn’t have gotten as far as it did without her bass, she truly was one of the most important members of that band. It’s a shame that you don’t really see her all that often nowadays, she’s like a ghost…anyway, that doesn’t take away the fact that she’s a true Heavy Metal legend. Round 2 goes to White Zombie for Bass.
Astro-Creep 2000-1 / Hellbilly Deluxe-1
Round 3-Guitar(J. Yuenger vs. Mike Riggs)
First up in this round is White Zombie’s lead guitarist, the man known simply as “J”.
The man came up with what are probably some of the most recognizable riffs in the band’s history. It also helps that J. had roots with the Chicago Hardcore scene, which he brought to White Zombie. Not only is Yuenger’s guitar skills aggressive, but are also catchy as all hell. But if I could give an example of his talents on guitar, listen to the hit single ‘More Human Than Human’ from ‘Astro-Creep’. I promise you will not be able to get that riff out of your head.
Representing ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’, we have Mr. Mike Riggs.
Now…okay before I continue, I need to ask something. Are there a lot of people in this article who look like Zombie or is it just me? Jesus! Anyway, Riggs is one hell of a guitar player in his own right. Granted ‘Hellbilly’ focuses less on the straightforward Heavy Metal style in favor of the Industrial side of things, but when you hear Riggs wailing on his guitar, it’s simply amazing. A lot of great tracks, but I think that it’s in ‘Demonoid Phenomenon’ where Riggs truly shines.
REALLY tough call! Both guitarists are absolutely badass and both were pretty experimental on their tracks. However, I think that J. is a slightly better guitar player. I just feel that while Riggs worked on some truly memorable songs on ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’, it was as if J. stood out and made the music all the more catchy. Now, if John 5 had joined with Rob Zombie during ‘Hellbilly’, this round would’ve ended A LOT differently. Oh well, the point goes to Jay Yuenger for ‘Astro-Creep’.
Astro-Creep 2000-2 / Hellbilly Deluxe-1
Round 4-Best Frontman(Rob Zombie)
Oh boy, this is going to suck! Trying to decide the best point of Rob Zombie’s career, this is the round that I was the most afraid of and was the main reason why I almost didn’t want to do this Dash Versus. Well, screw it! You guys are gonna want to kill me when this is all over anyway. So let’s do it! Rob Zombie…was he better with White Zombie or was going solo a step in the right direction?
Without going into details about any of the backstage problems that went on with the band, it was still the music from White Zombie that helped get Rob’s foot in the door. While they had a fairly successful run, it’s a shame that the album that finally got them to the top had to be their last one. Nether the less, what a way to go out. It was at this point where we see Rob testing the waters with what he could do with his music style, lyrics, and his overall look. Of course, all of that somehow managed to blend so well with the more Heavy Metal sound of White Zombie. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to talk about just how talented and creative Zombie is, especially when you take his carnival upbringing into consideration, as well as his love for horror and Metal. The best example of that would have to be ‘Grease Paint & Monkey Brains’, great track.
Now, if ‘Astro-Creep 2000’ was Rob Zombie going through a metamorphosis during the final moments of White Zombie, ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ was the spawning of Rob’s persona and writing style during the dawn of his solo career. Of course, we didn’t know back then that Rob Zombie was this ever-evolving Heavy Metal creature who hardly makes the same album twice, so this was merely a taste of things to come as Rob would continue to change his music to this day. Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that he went all out with his love for horror homages, exploitation-film references, atmospheric theatrics. Just listen to ‘Living Dead Girl’ which is all kinds of eerie, sexy, and cool at the same time.
Yet another hard decision to make. Quite honestly, I love both aspects of Rob Zombie. At the same time, however, I think I have a bit more respect for Rob’s solo projects because his writing style is constantly changing and keeping the fans on their toes at all times. Not to say that White Zombie hasn’t made changes over the years as well, but White Zombie was still primarily Rock & Metal. I know that some people may prefer that, but I feel as though this was Rob’s chance to finally cut loose and be even more creative than we ever thought he could. With that said, this round goes to ‘Hellbilly’ as it was the “true” beginning of the Rob Zombie we know today.
Astro-Creep 2000-2 / Hellbilly Deluxe-2
Final Round-Best Album
Now, it all comes to this. Two albums, both widely considered to be the height of a career. I’ve gone into some details behind each member from both albums and how they’ve helped elevated the tone of each album. I’ve mentioned how both ‘Astro-Creep’ and ‘Hellbilly’ both delve into the macabre and the exploitative in tone. However, ‘Astro-Creep’ takes a much more straightforward and aggressive approach. You already know what you’re in for the minute you start listening to the album, as the first track, ‘Electric Head, Pt. 1’, grabs you right from the start.
I’ve stated a lot about how Rob Zombie likes to experiment, but I can’t help it…the man loves to experiment with his music. While Rob would simply scrape the surface of what he could do in music, it was ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ where he really began to tear at some flesh. This album embraces the fact that it tries to be what I like to call “the sounds of B-Horror trash”, but is not afraid of being aggressive when it has to be. This starts off fine, with a few quick and creepy lines from the always-faithful Sheri Moon on the short and atmospheric instrumental, ‘Call of The Zombie’; which then transitions into the fast and bombastic single, ‘Superbeast’.
It truly goes without saying, both of these albums are undeniable classics. White Zombie will never be dated, and you can always go back and listen, or discover it after years of listening to Rob Zombie’s solo projects like I did. ‘Astro-Creep’ was the true definition of “going out with a bang”. With singles like ‘Super-Charger Heaven’ and More Human Than Human’, the amazing guitar work of Jay Yuenger and the awesomeness of Sean Yseult’s bass are what helps this album stand out from the rest. However, it was ‘Hellbilly’ that escalated things and brought Rob Zombie to the mainstream public. Whether you love or hate him, Rob was on top of the world after the release of this album. For many of us, ‘Hellbilly’ was our introduction to Rob Zombie. Not only was this Zombie’s finest hour both musically and lyrically, but the album also features John Tempesta at his finest, pays more homage to old-school horror and exploitation films, has an overall creepy yet energetic and fun quality to the whole thing. I’d say that creepy, energetic, and fun are the perfect words for Halloween, wouldn’t you say? I mean, don’t get me wrong, all of Rob’s music is great for October. Yes, that includes White Zombie as well. To me, ‘Astro-Creep’ is a real treat to listen to and will always be one of my favorites. But when I first listened to ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’, that’s when I realized how important it is to deliver on the tricks as well as the treats. As I’ve mentioned before, this album was definitely one hell of a way to solidify Rob Zombie as the star we know him as today. Winner by a dreadlock, Rob Zombie’s ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’.
Astro-Creep 2000-2 / Hellbilly Deluxe-3
WINNER: Hellbilly Deluxe
Kids, I can’t stress enough. This article does not mean White Zombie or the ‘Astro-Creep’ album is bad, it’s hands-down, one of the best albums ever made and everyone should listen to it. However, I just feel that ‘Hellbilly’ has just a little more going for it. Bottom line, ‘Astro-Creep 2000’ and ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ are two of Rob Zombie’s best works and I personally recommend these two albums for all newcomers. Anyway, I know this is only my 2nd Dash Versus, but I promise I’ll try to make more of these if you guys really want it. Now, we still have a creepfest to go through…what the hell, how about another treat for you guys?
Yeah, we’re good. Until then, Gotta Dash
Astro-Creep 2000 Rating-4/5
Hellbilly Deluxe Rating-4.5/5
Written by Shane Moose
Special thanks to the three big F’s in my life(Friends, Family & Fans) for helping me get this far, pushing me to go even further and for putting up with me when I try going further than that. To hell with my limitations!
Videos & Photos:
(Any images of Rob Zombie and his works are property of Rob Zombie)
(Any images, music, and clips from White Zombie from Rob Zombie, Sean Yseult, Jay Yuenger & John Tempesta)
WCW(owned by WWE)
The Haunted World of El Superbeasto(owned by Anchor Bay Films, Film Roman & Starz Media)