Review Summary: A messy and poorly produced affair, but one of the most innovative metal albums of its time.
Groove metal. Anyone even remotely interested in metal in the 90s likely experienced first hand how much this genre took the world by storm. The idea of taking thrash, slowing it down to a mid tempo groove, and throwing in lower guitar tunings for added heaviness was one that nearly all of mainstream metal bands would toy with. Usually Pantera and their 1990 album "Cowboys From Hell" is cited as the first groove metal album and while that may have been the album to popularize the genre, it had actually been pioneered a year earlier by a then unknown New York noise rock turned metal band- White Zombie.
"Make Them Die Slowly," its title taken from an obscure Italian horror film, is a rough and sloppy record, a record from a period in time where White Zombie had yet to truly hit their creative stride; yet its a very fascinating one at that. Right from the opening seconds of "Demonspeed," we're introduced to that heavy, mid tempo, style of riffing that so many bands would adopt in the 90s. Vocalist Rob Zombie, even at his young age here, sounds very well developed as both a singer and a lyricist; his signature gruff vocals and tongue-in-cheek horror influenced lyrics on full display. In an era where most metal bands were dealing with intense socio-political commentary, some songs about alien invasions and zombie holocausts are a breathe of fresh air. The band do occasionally break from the groove and go into full throttle thrash territory like on the songs "Murderworld" and "Power Hungry," the latter features some very bizarre noise rock breaks, harkening back to the band's roots- a clear example of White Zombie's transition from noise rock to the industrialized groove metal we would come to know.
Sadly, where the music aims to innovate, the production lets down. As mentioned previously, this is a very rough and sloppily played album. The production is especially tough to get past, the guitars sounding thin and weak compared to chainsaw tones that would pervade the latter White Zombie albums. The drums dont sound much better and the bass is barely audible which is a shame considering the drum performance here is pretty great. None of the samples or industrial effects that fans of the band and Rob's solo work are present here either.
"Make Them Die Slowly" may be far from the strongest White Zombie release, but its one worth checking out, at the very least for its innovation alone. Just dont expect the polished and crisp experiences of "La Sexorcisto" and "Astro Creep 2000."