Rob Zombie is the patriarch of a horror culture made up of distorting reality, making the familiar unnerving and just perpetuating fright in general. Over his near 30-year career of making music (a good portion of which has also been dedicated to film-making), both as a solo artist and as the frontman of White Zombie, Zombie’s brand of industrial metal has become a mainstream entity, in a realm that you or I could never truly understand. We would have to be born with Zombie’s vision in order to obtain the slightest idea.
“Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor,” Zombie’s fifth solo full-length to date, may just further reflect his freak-metal formula to some, but it simultaneously serves as a testament to the life Zombie has fulfilled. Sure, it never achieves the glory of his 1998 debut, “Hellbilly Deluxe.” Nonetheless, the new record is compiled with (anti-)arena rock, the soon-to-be source of the roughest of mosh pits in the coming months.
Album opener “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy” encapsulates the entirety of the album’s essence. It is profiled by guitarist John 5’s chugging chords and whining solo guitar (think “Living Dead Girl”). This song, as the rest of the record, can be described by that very dynamic, but such is the expected case with Zombie’s metal music.
Newer sounds are short in quantity, taking one of two forms on “Venomous Rat.” The first: Zombie pops on a soapbox for the album’s lead single, “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown.” While maintaining all of Zombie’s core metal qualities, Zombie is more direct with listeners here. He is arguably more approachable as a person, as opposed to fear’s spokesman, on this song than he has ever been before. The relationship between guitar and organ on this song is also a unique relationship on the record.
In addition, Zombie appears to venture in to industrial timbres on “Venomous Rat” more so than on his previous, guitar-dominated records. This is not in reference to the snippets of old horror films that can be found on the majority of the album; these are ubiquitous in the Zombie repertoire. Rather, electronic voices mesh with the bombastic, heavy riffage of guitar, particularly on “Rock and Roll (In a Black Hole).”
Besides the aforementioned songs, much of “Venomous Rat” is interchangeable with the rest of Zombie’s work. Regardless, Zombie does what Zombie does best and this album has not faltered his reputation or deterred from his defined sound.