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Old-school metal

Educated Horses
Educated Horses
By Rob Zombie

Geffen Records: 2006

This review first appeared in Turbula in May 2006.

If classic '70s metal bands are still hugely popular on high school campuses – with Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Black Sabbath very hip again – their spiritual descendent, Rob Zombie, isn't doing too badly, either.

Zombie's whole stage persona is stripped-down primitive goth – there's none of the girlish preening that hair bands like Motley Crue or Guns 'N' Roses engaged in.

His new album shows Zombie still pursuing a kind of Alice Cooper meets Judas Priest zeitgeist. As with Sabbath and Iron Maiden, there's an adolescent fascination with pseudo-satanism (with song titles like "The Lords of Salem" and "The Devil's Rejects") – although none of it seems much more than staged posing.

Zombie's growling vocals, the power chord guitar riffs, the insistent rhythms combine with industrial themes and alt-rock melodies to create something that is equal parts 1970s heavy metal and contemporary 21st century rock.

But where those first-generation metal bands were basically heavy blues bands, with chord progressions and rhythmic structures grounded in the blues, Zombie is more like, say, Metallica or Queensryche in playing metal minus the blues.

Yet while Zombie's music has strong industrial and other recent influences running throughout, the pace is slowed down to that of the classic metal bands. The beat is measured, almost plodding at times.

At the same time, Zombie is not afraid to bring in new instrumentation. For instance, on "17 Year Locust," there's either a sitar or something programmed to sound like a sitar. It gives a nice exotic edge to the song, while keyboards on other tracks provide a depth to the sound that adds to the theatrical charm of it all.