Heavy metal icon Rob Zombie delivers his fourth solo effort, and first with Roadrunner Records, Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls, and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool. While having its ups and downs, the sequel to his 1998 masterpiece retains much of the ghoulish ambiance and spookshow aura that has catapulted him into a rock and roll legend.
The best all-around tracks are “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” and the opener “Jesus Frankenstein.” “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” features an incendiary groove and beat, along with strong lyrical content, while “Jesus Frankenstein” demonstrates the growth of the band’s compositional skills. Compared to the previous album openers “Superbeast,” “Demon Speeding,” and “American Witch,” “Frankenstein” contains less of a straightforward and hard-charging assault, and opts for more musical depth with exciting and explosive changes.
From a lyrical perspective, “Werewolf, Baby” harnesses this album’s most classic and premium lines such as, “I’m a monster/ Can I come over?/ Some kind of demon/ to get you screaming.”
For the great graveyard programming and orchestration that many fans missed out on Educated Horses, “The Man Who Laughs” will please the Zombie purists. This closing track also features an extended drum solo from Tommy Clufetos who at one point attempts to provide you with a “Moby Dick” experience.
Unless you have been living under a tombstone, you have already been exposed to the two singles, “What?” and “Sick Bubble Gum.” And yes, these are the catchiest tunes of the album despite “What’s?” sometimes irritating “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh…”
There are several tracks that leave the listener with a mixed taste. For example, “Cease to Exist” is half annoying-half bad ass, which is most likely due to the vocals sounding forced and restrained.
John 5 offers good guitar riffs on “Burn,” but unfortunately is accompanied by hokey Jonathan Davis-esque vocal-play. I want to love the Sabbathy guitar riff in “Virgin Witch,” but its familiarity (Clutch? Down?) makes me feel a bit uneasy.
One of the blandest songs on the record is the one with the most interesting title, “Death and Destiny Inside the Dream Factory.” It plays out more as an album filler. However, the lyrical freestyle breaks are absolutely sick and most likely the reason why this song made the cut.
Even though “Mars Needs Women” contains a powerful acoustic guitar intro before morphing into a catchy headbanger, the overly-repetitive hook pulls it to the duller side.
One thing is for sure on Hellbilly Deluxe 2, Zombie has his best backup band to date in terms of song arrangements and group chemistry. Does that make this his best record yet? No. Does this album feel like a followup to the 1998 classic? Yes and no. Does it outshine Educated Horses and represent a return to Rob Zombie’s original form? Absolutely—and that is what makes Hellbilly 2 so important.
Rob Zombie is Rob Zombie (Vocals), John 5 (Guitars), Piggy D (Bass), & Tommy Clufetos (Drums).
- “Jesus Frankenstein”
- “Sick Bubblegum”
- “Mars Needs Women”
- “Werewolf, Baby”
- “Virgin Witch”
- “Death and Destiny Inside a Dream Factory”
- “Cease to Exist”
- “Werewolf Women of the SS”
- “The Man Who Laughs”