Review Summary: Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is most definitely better than the snoozefest that was Educated Horses, but is that really saying much?
I never got the appeal of Rob Zombie’s infamous debut album, Hellbilly Deluxe
. I just can’t understand how it’s regarded as a shock rock classic by some. The good tracks on Hellbilly Deluxe
include "Dragula", "Superbeast", "Demonoid Phenomenon" and maybe even "Living Dead Girl", but that’s about it - the rest sounds like filler. 4 tracks out of 13. Not that good of a score, aye? After the disappointing, yet critically acclaimed Hellbilly Deluxe
, Zombie released The Sinister Urge
, his best work to date. The Sinister Urge
didn’t have such huge songs like the aforementioned "Dragula" and "Superbeast", but as an album which flows well from start to finish, Zombie is yet to match it. Things were seemingly looking good after that, but then Educated Horses
happened. For those who are unfamiliar with the album, Educated Horses
is a contender for the most mediocre record in the world. It's not bad, it's not good, it's nothing but average really. I’m serious, that album could be used in literature, or even in textbooks for school, as a description for something overly average. So in 2009, three years after creating the pinnacle of mediocrity, it seemed Rob Zombie was ready to release something great once more. Naming his new album Hellbilly Deluxe 2
was an ambitious move on Zombie’s part, and the title definitely created some buzz. After postponing the album in late 2009, February 2, 2010 finally became the final release date. But now that Hellbilly Deluxe 2
is out, a question arises: Is it any good?
I can say right away that Hellbilly Deluxe 2
possesses a valuable plus - Rob Zombie has got his trademark industrial spiced hard rock sound back, which should most definitely please the fans (Educated Horses
was just your run-of-the-mill hard rock album without an industrial influence). Yes, Hellbilly Deluxe 2
sounds, while more polished than ever before, once again like classic Rob Zombie (e.g. original Hellbilly Deluxe
and The Sinister Urge
). But I’m afraid that’s where the really good news end. Many people criticized the pre-released songs "What?" and "Sick Bubblegum" for being too weak and over distorted. But what if I'd tell you those two are one of the better cuts here? "What?" and "Sick Bubblegum" may not be the best songs on Hellbilly Deulxe 2
musically, but they sure are the most memorable ones. "What?" is just a ridiculously catchy song - the heavy distortion on it is irking at first, but is later shadowed by the catchiness of the song. "Sick Bubblegum",in turn, has the most powerful and pumping chorus of the whole album. While the song features some of Rob’s worst lyrics ever (after all, Zombie does play shock rock, and while a sick bubblegum may sound pretty shocking at first, then in reality it definitely isn’t), it has a catchy, fist-pumping guitar line and Rob’s voice sounds as good as ever.
Many other songs on the album fall into the "unmemorable" category though. Actually, that’s the whole problem with this release. It’s unmemorable and irkingly standard-sounding. Hellbilly Deluxe 2
is 100% void of any surprise factor. If you have ever heard a standard, slightly (in this case, very slightly) above average Rob Zombie song, then you already know what to expect from this album. If you haven't heard Rob Zombie before though, let me sum it up quickly: Hellbilly Deluxe 2
is a simplistic hard rock album with industrial influences, silly lyrics and catchy, though unremarkable choruses. I'm listening to this album at this very moment by the way, while writing this review, and I’m feeling as numb as humanly possible. Not a single nerve in my body is twitching, not a single emotion is showing. Oh wait, I kind of smiled a bit 10 minutes back when "What?" came on, but other than that, this is not looking good. Rob Zombie has managed to record an album which doesn’t conjure a single emotion in the listener.
All this is actually quite sad, and the rumor about this being Rob's final album he will release as a physical copy only adds to that. I love Rob Zombie; I think he is a very interesting persona and musician, but while Educated Horses
was one of the most mediocre records ever released, Hellbilly Deluxe 2
is one of the numbest. It’s not bad, actually it sounds ok (John 5 is a good guitarist and this album is filled with good, if simple, high guitar licks and catchy power chords) and the whole playful and easy-going theme this album has is rather cool, but at the end of the day, Hellbilly Deluxe 2
is just so damn uncharismatic. Rob Zombie really needs to thank John 5, because his simple, yet mildly entertaining guitar work, combined with Zombie’s semi-gruff vox, is the only reason why this album gets a 3 from me. I never entirely lose faith in Rob Zombie, but with two thoroughly unremarkable records in a row, he better come out with some really bombastic material next time around.