When your debut album comes through hellfire and brimstone, through doubts and aspersions, to deliver a collection that has legit classic material on it (‘Living Dead Girl’, ‘Superbeast’, ‘Dragula’), then it may seem impossible to create a follow-up that hits the same heights. If anything, however, Rob Zombie’s sophomore solo stomp, The Sinister Urge, released on 13 November 2001, saw him unleash something even more creative. (“OK, this is all gonna work out. Now let’s blow some s__t up,” if you will.)
You knew what you were gonna get, right? Wrong.
What about those spiralling, ghost train strings that open the ride with a colour and a flavour unlike anything else he had put his name to? It’s life, Bobby, but not as we know it. It was fast, hard and fun. Really fun. Then there’s awesome “Hey-hey-HEY-HEY” intro to the monster man’s arrival on this record – and, yup, we are salivating all over again. When ‘Demon Speeding’ comes careering through like a Satanic Batmobile, slaying the night in a hail of sparks and white-knuckle adrenaline, that’s none other than Rob Zombie.
It’s a bizarre thing to say for a man whose work has always radiated blood-splattered neon colour, but The Sinister Urge is probably the closest thing Zombie has to a straight-up party metal record. Well, until The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser, but we’ll get to that later on down the line.
The likes of the flashy, catchy ‘Dead Girl Superstar’ and particularly the throw-punches-at-the-sky romp of ‘Feel So Numb’ feel looser: less mechanical, less industrial. Zombie’s music is always going to have those creepy, thrilling electronic flourishes, but The Sinister Urge was an album that felt like the first songwriting steps towards the rock’n’roll beast that Zombie has out on the road
It’s not all club-ready bumping’n’grinding. ‘Go To California’ is a mystic desert ride through temptations and sin, conjuring a Fear And Loathing-meets-The Grim Reaper sultry slink that’s still about putting some crunk in that monster trunk. Its hushed vocal and refusal to get too overblown marks a mature approach to a second album. But let’s talk about topless men that like to spear one another, shall we?
If you’re a pro-wrestling fan, you’ll know where we’re going here, but Adam “Edge” Copeland played a deceptively massive role in Zombie’s explosion from cult superstar to A-list representative of all things us spooks hold dear. ‘Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)’ is one of the biggest songs in Zombie’s career and was the signal for one of wrestling’s modern greats to evolve from an Undertaker sidekick that’s gone through the period marked “dated”, and back around into something cool again. Zombie’s song was just right for Edge and the narrative was set: two guys who were breaking out of Santa Clara, embracing their inner devils instead of taking what they were given while eating a ton of noodles.
The song itself would soundtrack some incredible “holy s__t” moments; its video would feature Rob’s Scream Queen, Sheri Moon, twisting to the hypnotic verses – and then that chorus. It’s as good as big-balled bravado gets in rock’n’roll. “Scream if you want it, ’cause I want it more.” You’re damn right.
The final act of the album is equally fascinating. ‘Scum Of The Earth’ is a real fan-favourite: a full-throttle, head-down ripper, full of impeccably-placed calls-and-response in the chorus. But The Sinister Urge is all about the ending: Rob’s love letter to his breakthrough movie, House Of 1000 Corpses.
It’s weird. Really weird. It’s almost ten minutes long, and what makes it really bizarre and exceptionally creative is that it’s swing is ultra feminine. See Rob Zombie live and he will use his large, elongated frame to exotically line dance like that weird villain in Jeepers Creepers after too much LeAnn Rimes. It’s got a booty-popping swing. It’s a cowboy-boot-heel-in-the-saloon-bar scene – only this guy isn’t looking for a simple taste of trouble. He’s looking to seduce and slice in a sexy, strip-ready serial killer anthem unlike anything anybody has produced anywhere.
It’s what happens when The Sinister Urge has you in its grips.
Out now, the limited edition, 1,000-only signed career-spanning 15LP Rob Zombie solo box set is available exclusively through uDiscover Music US.
The box set includes the albums Hellbilly Deluxe, American Made Music To Strip By, The Sinister Urge, Educated Horses, Zombie Live, Hellbilly Deluxe 2, Mondo Sex Head, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, Spookshow International Live, The Electric Warlord Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser and Astro-Creep: 2000 Live. Order it through uDiscover Music US here.