Astro-Creep 2000 |Geffen Records, 1995|
1. Electric Head, Pt1 (The Agony), 2. Super-Charger Heaven, 3. Real Solution #9, 4. Creature of the Wheel, 5. Electric Head, Pt. 2 (The Ecstasy), 6. Grease Paint and Monkey Brains, 7. I, Zombie, 8. More Human Than Human, 9. El Phantasmo and the Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama, 10. Blur the Technicolor, 11. Blood, Milk and Sky
What's that you say? You don't own a copy of White Zombie's seminal record "Astro-Creep 2000: Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head" (or better known as simply "Astro-Creep 2000")? Shame on you! Well, stop reading this review immediately and go pick up a copy (or download it from iTunes). Trust me, if you love rock and metal, you will not be disappointed. Remember though: don't judge this album based on Rob Zombie's current penchant for mildly cheesy horror rock (and also directing mildly cheesy horror films), this record was very influential with regard to the industrial metal scene, as well as the 90's rock sound in general. This is when Rob Zombie was a seriously cool front man of a seriously cool band. Go get a copy right away – you can thank me later.
The songs on this album are some of the most rocking songs I've ever heard. When I'm working on my own music, I constantly use this album as the bar for great guitar riffs. There are many great hooks that will dig their way into your brain and never leave. The fact that the guitars were tuned all the way down to a low C# - well below the usual drop D found on most metal albums – helped provide the huge, balls to the wall sound that made this album stand above others in the genre. Also, the simplicity of the songs themselves is what kept White Zombie from being pigeonholed in the underground metal scene, and made this album accessible to mainstream audiences. There are no 10-minute rock opuses on Astro-Creep 2000 – each song just gets in and out quickly after sonically assaulting you like only the best metal bands can.
The connection to the industrial community comes in the form of contributions from former NIN collaborator Charlie Clouser. Clouser was responsible for the synth lines and beat programming that pepper the tracks. It is his additions to the music, along with the various horror and blaxploitation movie samples, that help elevate the production quality of Astro-Creep to a better than average standard for a metal album. This is most apparent on the totally kick-ass intro to the mega-hit "More Human Than Human". This track is White Zombie's biggest hit song, and helped make the band incredibly popular. Chances are if you saw a movie trailer for an action film in the 90's, then you've heard "More Human Than Human" (note: the title of the song comes from a movie itself: none other than the classic "Bladerunner"). Though this was White Zombie's most popular song, I also think it was one of their weakest and least interesting – which always seems to be the way with singles and hits.
The best songs on the album for me are the attention grabbing opener "Electric Head Part 1 (The Agony)", with it's wonderfully creepy and intriguing sample suggesting "Perhaps we had better start from the beginning". Whenever I have heard those words over the years, I knew I was about to get into some serious rocking tracks. Once the drums and tambourine kick in, the album just doesn't let up. Track 2, "Super-Charger Heaven", just keeps the momentum going, with an ass-kicking riff and a beat that just won't quit. I particularly love how the double kick drums play with machine-like pulsing over the verses. So much energy on display, and we are only 2 tracks in.
"Real Solution #9" is of note for it's great use of samples ("I'm already dead, I'm already dead" makes a wonderful loop, doesn't it?) and a wicked use of slide guitar to create an absolutely deadly guitar riff. "El Phantasmo and the Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama" is also worth mentioning for the main guitar riff that is played on the off beats, making a simple song breathe of complexity just under the surface.
Lastly, "Blur the Technicolor" is not just one of my favorite tracks on this album, but one of my favorite industrial metal tracks of all time. The ethnic drum loop that begins the track dissolves into one of the tightest guitar lines I've ever heard. The riff plays double time over the beat, creating a groovy feel to the song. Though Zombie isn't the greatest vocalist on the planet, he sure knows how to deliver a solid rock performance that's all attitude. In my opinion this is best displayed on this track, as he carries the melody with a rhythmic and intensely cool delivery. It doesn't get any badass than this.
Though it was made in 1995, Astro-Creep 2000 doesn't sound dated in any way – If it were released today it would hold up with the best of what the genre has to offer. Overall, there is very little that I consider wrong with this album. It is one of my all time favorites, and I'm sure most of you already have been listening to this album for 15 years. Those of you that haven't, I say again, shame on you! Hopefully I have now convinced you to go out and pick up this classic. Now get on it! (James Chapple, 07/26/2010)