Well, those of you who were waiting for Zombie to get back to making music after his forays into movie-making, be careful what you wish for, ’cause this is what you get. Educated Horses is a let-down in almost every way. For his first original studio album since 2001’s The Sinister Urge, Zombie steps even farther away from his metal roots into an odd hand-clapping, radio-friendly pop amalgamation. Gone is the ultra-gravelly voice and the electronic dubs of old horror movies. Gone are the album-length themes that tell us we are all going to Hell or that monsters are after us. Instead, we get under forty minutes of rather forgettable music.
“Foxy, Foxy” and “The Scorpion Sleeps” are quite poppy, and will no doubt attract some new fans, but will serve to alienate longtime listeners. The tempo for many of the other tracks is slowed down to a ponderous level. I was practically begging “17 Year Locusts” to finish long before the 4:06 time came.
It’s not all bad. Former Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 delivers some of his best work here, providing Zombie with riffs and melodies unheard of on his previous albums. “American Witch” could be a classic Zombie track taken on its own, except that it’s the harbinger of the recurring hand-clapping that populates the rest of the album. “Death Of It All” could be the beginning of Zombie’s Vegas lounge act in a few years. “Let it All Bleed Out” is the highpoint of the effort; it’s a high energy rhythm section backing blistering guitars and Zombie at his manic best on vocals. A few more songs like this would have heralded a new classic.
If you are a Zombie zombie, you already have Educated Horses. But if you are a casual fan, you should definitely sample it before you buy it. And if you are a member of that growing population of former Zombie fans who wonder when he will return to his previous horror-funk-metal heights, keep wondering, and take a pass on Educated Horses.
Rob Zombie: www.robzombie.com