Review Summary: A diamond in the rough that is easily overlooked by fans.
If an Artist has a back catalogue of albums there tends to be “that underrated album” hidden underneath the catalogue of other albums. Such is the case with Rob Zombies third outing: “Educated Horses”. Overlooked by fans of “Hellbilly Deluxe” and “Sinister Urge” for the slightly different direction Zombie took with it. On first spin the album seems a little shallow, its run time doesn’t help the argument either, but I think people were alienated more by its inconsistent and experimental nature.
This experimental approach to the song writing comes from the bands new member John Lowery, aka John 5, the virtuoso guitarist better known for playing in Marilyn Manson before departing and moving to Rob Zombies band camp. Educated Horses has several instrumental tracks that are played throughout the LPs 11 songs. The opening track “Sawdust In The Blood” shows an unusually more dark side to Zombies usual sound pallet; an instrumental track that starts off with the metallic poundings of the drums (that remind me of the Terminator theme tune) as a piano plays ominously, before a rather eerie and depressing acoustic guitar plays to its closing seconds. “100 Ways” is another instrumental track, not quite as dark as the former, that jams more like a Stoner/Desert Rock song, that would sound more fitting in a Queens of the Stone Age or Fu Manchu album.
These dark experiments bring new dimensions to Rob Zombies sound, but are a hindrance to “Educated Horses” as well. The albums only real flaw is in its inconsistency. The album offers lots of different styles: “Foxy, Foxy” and “The Scorpion Sleeps” have that borderline Pop edge, similar to what was heard on “Never Gonna Stop” from Sinister Urges; while “17 Year Locust” opens up with a sitar being played before kicking into sludgy, doom riffs with groove driven bass. The more traditional Zombie sound is still present on songs like “American Witch” and the chugging “Let It All Bleed Out”, while the brilliant “The Devils Rejects” and “Lords Of Salem” tracks manage to roll up all of the albums ideas and finds a nice balance.
The problem is when you listen to the album as a whole the flow and tone is all over the place, it feels more like a compilation album than an album trying to set a certain tone. But with that said, every song on this album is solid at worst. Educated Horses leans more toward Hard Rock and Metal than the Industrial Metal poundings fans are used to, but songs like “The Devils Rejects” – with its Southern American twang – and “American Witch” are some of Zombies best songs, and for that reason alone Zombie fans should check this out.
Overall this LP is basically one big experiment that staggers along to its finishing time, but every track doesn’t waste your time. There is something here for fans of the old Zombie sound, but Educated Horses offers maple reason for newcomers to check it out.