Sound — 7
Rob Zombie is a busy man. Besides his music career that has been fairly successful since the late '80s, first as White Zombie and then later as a solo artist, he has also been busy as a director, producer and screenwriter. "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor" is his 5th studio release as a solo artist, but he has also directed six motion pictures and released 5 compilation albums and a live album. He started out with what suspiciously sounds like a "creation myth", with parents that worked at a carnival in Massachusetts until a riot broke out resulting in fires, gunplay and Rob Zombie and his family watching a close family friend being beaten in the face with a hammer. If I was a horror metal musician I couldn't think of a better "back story" but maybe it is true. Later, Rob Zombie met Sean Yseult while going to school in NYC and they began dating and started the band White Zombie. White Zombie released 4 studio albums before breaking up in 1998 so that Rob Zombie could pursue his solo career. "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor" has 12 tracks and clocks in at just a little under 40 minutes. The first single from the album was "Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown" which was released with a music video on April 8th. On Record Store Day a promotional single on colored vinyl was released for the same single, but with a second track from the album "Teenage Nosferatu Pussy" included as the B-side track. The musicians involved in the album are, of course, Rob Zombie, with the addition of John 5, Piggy D., and for the first time on drums for Rob Zombie, Ginger Fish (previously of Marilyn Manson).
While "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor" is not a bad album by any estimation, there isn't really any type of envelope being pushed but instead some of the same of what has been working for Rob Zombie for a while now. While the album flows really well and has me tapping my foot and nodding my head, I can't help but think "haven't I heard this before?" Well, no these are all new songs with the exception of the cover of "We're An American Band" included on the album (which is an awesome cover, by the way). What makes these songs sound like his previous work is the frequent use of old movie dialogue overdubbed on the album, sex sounds and just a generally over-sexed songwriting perspective, simple yet powerful guitar riffing, and a weird occasionally "hillbilly" feel to certain moments in the songs. John 5 isn't given much opportunity to shred or have extended solos, but he does get to cut loose with the powerful groove-centric metal riffs that Rob Zombie is known for. Ginger Fish, on his first studio outing with Rob Zombie, shows that he is a much more powerful drummer than I've previously given him credit for. While the drum parts don't get super complex, Ginger Fish proves he can hang with the grooves in the songs and still sound heavy as hell.
The album starts out with the track "Teenage Nosferatu Pussy" which of course starts with some movie dialogue overdubs and ends with sex sounds with some great riffing in the middle, and a chorus that screams, "Teenage Nosferatu Pussy, Turn It On, Turn It On". The next track on the album is the single "Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown", which again starts with a movie dialogue overdub, but from there goes into an exceptionally interesting composition (or at least in the context of Rob Zombie's solo material). The fourth track, "Theme For The Rat Vendor" is just over a minute long and is more of a short instrumental interlude with a little sitar melody. The eighth track on the album, "White Trash Freaks", is probably the one that John 5 is given the most room to stretch his legs a little bit, and Ginger Fish also has one of the most interesting drum grooves from the album on this song even if it gets a little repetitive. The high point of the album for me is a very energetic and heavy cover of "We're An American Band" with cowbell and everything.
Lyrics — 7
Rob Zombie has always been a competent vocalist in the context of the music he makes, with a powerful gravelly voice, making up for any lack of vocal skill with tons of attitude. I've always thought of Rob Zombie as a musical mastermind first, and as a vocalist second. He creates his specific musical vision which is a mixture of horror, sex, groove and metal by using a cast of solid musicians who can share in his vision with him and then he says his words over the music to give you something to sing along to while you head bang or whatever. The lyrics are pretty standard fare for Rob Zombie centering on sex, monsters and partying.
Overall Impression — 7
By far, my favorite songs on the album are the cover of "We're An American Band" and the single "Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown". Rob Zombie got into remixes and such a while back and it has had an effect on his music, where it is much more "dance-able" even in its original form before any remixes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and I guess it is makes his music more accessible to people who aren't necessarily metal fans. Despite my misgivings, this isn't a bad album it is heavy and makes you want to tap your foot. I would say this album isn't one of the best we've seen from Rob Zombie, but I enjoyed it much more than his recent remix album.