Rob Zombie / Various House of 1000 Corpses / The Devil's Rejects / 3 From Hell

Rob Zombie / Various House of 1000 Corpses / The Devil's Rejects / 3 From Hell
7
Whether it's as the ghoulish, head-banging frontman of White Zombie or the no-mercy, grindhouse auteur, Rob Zombie deserves to be recognized as a Master of All Things Horror.
 
While he's best known musically for his '90s metal bangers like "Thunder Kiss '65" and "Dragula," Zombie has demonstrated a knack for musical supervision and curation. With an intense love for classic rock and the seedy underbelly of American culture, Zombie has built a following not just for his films, but the music that accompanies them.  
 
In conjunction with the release of his newest film, 3 From Hell, now for the first time ever, Waxwork Records has issued the music to Zombie's "Firefly Trilogy" on vinyl, offering up some wild looking variants: 2003's House of 1000 Corpses (blood soaked), 2005's The Devil's Rejects (desert sand and blood splatter), and 2019's 3 From Hell (Black Satans' red and black smoke, Welcome to Mexico purple with red and black smoke).
 
Fans of Zombie's rock music will get the most out of House of 1000 Corpses. Not only are there examples of his work as a score composer (see the chilling "To the House" and the Carpenter-esque "The Bigger the Cushion"), but also a handful of solid monster rock cuts, like the sludgy title track, the RevCo-leaning "Pussy Liquor" and the swampy "Everybody Scream." 
 
In addition, he throws in bits of dialogue, plus his questionable update of the Commodores classic, "Brick House," featuring Lionel Richie and rapper Trina. You wonder why he didn't just make it an album of his own material, but he couldn't seem to resist including favourites by heroes like the Ramones and Buck Owens. That said, Helen Kane's timeless "I Wanna Be Loved by You," feels essential after serving such memorable turning point in the film.
 
If 1000 Corpses is half a Zombie album, The Devil's Rejects flows more like a Zombie-curated mixtape. Opting not to use any of his own music, Zombie again relies on clips from the film, but digs deep into his classic rock collection to help set the tone for the serial-killers-on-the-run narrative. And so there are obvious favourites like Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" and the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider," but the star of this album is cult hero Terry Reid, whose three Graham Nash-produced tracks helped bring him back into rock consciousness.
 
3 From Hell makes for a completely different experience, albeit a more disjointed one from its predecessors. Producer Zeuss owns the entire first half (sharing it with more film dialogue), providing more than 20 tracks of his own original score, which ranges from creepy and unsettling to spaced out and ambient. Having worked on previous Zombie records, as well as with Hatebreed, Municipal Waste and Six Feet Under, he certainly knows how to create an environment that is both weird and tense enough for a film such as this. 
 
The second half finds Zombie once again raiding his record collection. There are repeat offenders in Terry Reid, Slim Whitman and James Gang, but it's the glam-stomping lead-off of "The Wild One" by Suzi Quatro that really gets things going. And well, why not throw in Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" to really hammer home the head trip?
 
Of course, like with most of their releases, Waxwork has almost made the music secondary to the artwork. Artist Robert Sammelin absolutely steals the show with his illustrative visuals, which offers up vividly depicted interpretations of scenes from each film. Zombie adds his own visual flair with insightful essays and 12-page booklets filled with unseen photos from the set. 
 
Like the films themselves, each of these albums offers something new. House of 1000 Corpses is more the rock album, The Devil's Rejects is more the mixtape and 3 From Hell is more the original score. And like the films themselves, these three albums work best as a trilogy. (Waxwork Records)