The gritty origin story
For music fans, one of the most intimate aspects of fandom is getting to dive into an artist’s origins. There’s a chance to see where they came from, and how they unfolded and evolved. There’s a certain raw connection that comes with this exploration, a primal interaction and understanding of the artist that gives new perspective to their entire body of work. In the metal world, probably the most well-known story is of Pantera, whose guttural groove metal sound was preceded by several years of spandex-clad glam music. They weren’t the only ones with a surprising origin story.
Rob Zombie is now a household name and, though denizens of metal culture might have mixed feelings about him, his particular brand of pop-fueled shock rock has certainly garnered some respectable success with a mainstream audience. Combined with a sizeable filmography under his belt, he’s certainly made a strong name for himself in the world of media.
Rob’s rise to fame wasn’t as a solo act though, it was with the N.Y.C. industrial metal band White Zombie (which he was also the founding member of). Many people still know White Zombie, and Rob still includes many of their songs in his live shows. There are plenty of people who don’t particularly like Rob’s solo career, as it went for a more pop-driven, nu-metal sound. However, White Zombie had a more of a raw, primal sound to them. It was music that was catchy but didn’t feel watered down for mass consumption. They still had the soul of a garage band, and there are still some metal-heads who won’t apologize for being fans.
But even White Zombie had a history before “Thunder Kiss ‘65,” and it was something even dirtier. The band had an early history as a noise-rock band in the 80’s post-punk scene. It Came From N.Y.C. is a box set that creates a comprehensive catalog of these early days, filled with music that is almost barely recognizable in comparison to the contemporary sounds of “Superbeast” and “Living Dead Girl.” With 39 tracks spanning across 5 CDs (or 3 LPs), this is definitely an in-depth look at the band’s gritty beginnings.
As far as the music is concerned, this is ultimately going to appeal to people in one of two camps: aging punk rockers and die-hard Zombie fans. There isn’t a lot of room in the middle here. This brand of post-punk noise-rock is really only meant for the most niche of demographics. For metal fans, there might not be a whole lot to grasp onto here. Grindcore fans might find some interest in some of the dissonant, heavily-distorted guitar riffs, as these helped lay some of the groundwork for early grindcore artists, but otherwise, this is far from metal, nu-metal, industrial metal, or any metal subgenre thereof.
For the die-hard Zombie fans, this is a chance to share an intimate connection with the artist, an exposing illustration of the band’s formative years, and an interesting insight into their evolution. This is a chance for fans to get to see the dark(er) side of White/Rob Zombie. It’s a lengthy listen, and for those who are uninitiated into noise-rock, it might be a bit laborious. But for those with the patience, you’ll be getting to see a new side to your favorite artist. This is the baby photos of the man that lives today, a look at the emperor with no clothes. For that reason in itself, this is worthy of a listen from those willing to put in the investment.
For everyone else, it might not be much to check out. But even a quick listen is enough to see that there might be more to Rob Zombie than meets the eye.