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Scum of the Earth Blah Blah Blah... Love Songs For the New Millennium

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Sunday, October 24, 2004 @ 0:15 AM


(Eclipse)

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Ooh, I like this record. But first things first…

Rob Zombie guitarist Riggs is the man behind this band (singer/guitarist/songwriter), which also includes some drumming from John Tempesta, Rob Zombie’s drummer, and his brother guitarist Mike Tempesta of Powerman 5000, the band fronted by Rob Zombie’s brother, Spider One. So, the sound of this band will not surprise anyone. It sounds a lot like Rob Zombie, and it sounds a little like PM5K. Also, the whole damn CD booklet looks like both bands had a hand in it, which pretty much means that SOTE are big fans of horror movies and strippers, which basically means a bunch of guys who read back-issues of Psychotronic and go “Whoa!”

Okay. If you’re not familiar with Rob Zombie (or White Zombie) and PM5K, it would be worth mentioning that those bands were gloriously ripping-off Ministry and KMFDM, but more rock and less, uh, TVT/German. If that means nothing, I guess you should just expect an album filled with chugging heavy bass lines and stop-action guitar riffs blown up over John Bonham’s drums for “When The Levee Breaks” at 16, 33, 45 and 78 RPM. Plus there are samples of girls screaming and going “aahhhh” among other things. The vox often sound like they’re going through a synthesizer… which all adds up to a bunch of cool rock songs that strippers can get away with playing in a three-song set without pissing off the fat manager who only likes classic rock and disco, never gets laid and takes out his frustration by yelling at the housegirls a lot.

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Where was I? Let’s see… “blistering fretboard pyrotechnics” meets “incendiary vocals” “blazing a trail through Hell and back” and… um. Never mind. Scratch that. I thought I was writing for SPIN or Rolling Stone for a second there. Ha Ha Ha! Just kidding!

This record is really good, period. Especially good if you are down for all of the above. It could be said, quite easily, that Riggs is biting the hand that feeds him, and swallowing it whole. But, what the hell is the point in doing that? Everybody and his brother are on this fucking record, so it isn’t worth the gossip-board time-wasting threads a la “Jerry Cantrell Rips Off AIC on Anger Rising!” Obviously, they all know about this. It’s not like Rob or Spider are dead, and then you get this... Clearly they know, are into it and whatever. It’s-- I’ve been looking for a pop-culture Rosetta Stone by which to compare this -- it’s a lot like the Godfather movies. Stay with me…

IF White Zombie and Rob Zombie are Godfather I, and Powerman 5000 is Godfather II… then Scum Of The Earth is Godfather III. It ain’t as good as the first two, but it has really great moments, and totally completes the set. I know die-hard pretentious New York City film-buffs who absolutely will not watch Godfather III, but I think they’re missing out; and I’m sure there will be some Zombie fans who won’t be into this, and rather see Rob on stage instead of behind a camera. Anyway, Godfather III has excellent moments to it, and anyone who denies the Opera finale, along with Pacino’s scenery-chewing “Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!” speech, plus Andy Garcia’s “ZA-ZA!” elimination of Joe Mantegna, (which is pretty awesome)… is just missing out. So, taking all that into consideration, this is a pretty damn fine record, and I would even venture to say it’s worth buying over burning. Okay?

Now… I’ll get right to it. The real stand-out tracks are “I Am The Scum,” “Get Your Dead On,” “Murder Song,” “Altargirl 13,” “Pornstar Champion,” “The Devil Made Me Do It” and “Beneath The Living.” Now that’s SEVEN songs out of ELEVEN that are just awesome and all of which definitely feel like Rob Zombie blew off the chance to make a great record with Riggs.

So let’s talk about those songs a little bit… I have already ripped these to my iPod since I got this disc this afternoon (written on 10/18). “I Am The Scum” is so totally Rob Zombie, it’s almost frustrating. Riggs sounds a lot like Rob, and that doesn’t surprise me. Obviously, if you’re in a band with a guy for six or seven years, there’s going to be some vocal similarities. They’re just a couple of weird creepy rockers who dig the same music and all that… and the similarities go right down to the sampling and production. It’s the same with the lyrics which are strictly 10th grader-fascinated-with-evil stuff. I never knew a great rock band that progressed beyond 10th grade lyrically (with few exceptions), so this is strictly verse-chorus-verse stuff. Things you can yell while driving, or loaded at the show. Anyway, this all carries on throughout the entire record. I just can’t imagine Rob Zombie being all pissed off about this, so why should I be? “I wish you the best of luck in your new business, so long as your interests don’t conflict with my interests…”

Michael Hutchence might feel differently, since “Murder Song” openly rips on INXS’ “Devil Inside” on the drums and on the coda after the last chorus/bridge where Riggs repeats, “Murder/suicide/every single one of us/the devil’s inside”… but, it’s such a killer fast groove that you’re just plain hooked. Who cares what Michael Hutchence thinks anyway? He’s dead. He died from autoerotic asphyxiation so he was fucking crazy to begin with, and might well have been flattered by this. We’ll never know, so fuck it. It’s a great song.

Now, speaking of dead guys -- and Scum Of The Earth seem to be as fascinated with this topic as much as Rob Zombie is with dead girls (draw your own conclusions) -- the song “Porn Star Champion” is pretty much a cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” but all creeped-out. The really weird thing is that they actually sample the original song! I know, that’s fucking crazy, right? I mean, it’s a great song to begin with, so why cover it? (Warrant, I’m talking to you!) Well, they do some weird shit with it, and it still sounds pretty good. Granted, a lot of the groundwork was already done for them, by Queen, but it’s about a porno-chick, so there you are. Already, it’s much better. If this was on some blockbuster teen-horror-skin-flick starring, say, Ashton Kutcher, it would suck buffalo balls. But, it’s not. So that only makes it far, far better. Maybe it won’t eclipse the original (it won’t) but it fits in rather nicely here, and let’s face it, Vanilla Ice sampled Queen so, obviously the remaining members of that band and the estate of Freddy Mercury have no integrity whatsoever, so who fucking cares? If some creepy rock dudes want to re- re-make a coolish song out of it, I say do it.

“The Devil Made Me Do It” is pure Rob Zombie, er--Riggs. And it’s great! So, again, there’s no reason to bitch. The drums on this are really awesome, and add a lot of power to an already heavy number. More reasons to like this record. But, that’s me. I haven’t heard anything good in a while, so I’m really enjoying this right now.

“Beneath The Living” sounds like Riggs has been listening to The Murderdolls a lot, which proves that pop will eat itself. (Fucking hell -- Acey Slade should have been the guitarist in this band!) But, in any case, it’s terrific. They say, “GO!” over and over on the guitar breaks, which they also do on the opening song, “I Am The Scum.” This is very “hip-hop” of them, but also quite contemporary and there’s no denying the catchiness of both songs. “Beneath,” as with “I Am…” bring a cyclical feel to the CD if you put it on repeat, so that’s kinda cool.

There is something else that bears mentioning here. This CD is mixed with “UMIX “technology.” The press release for this disc says it’s the future of remix technology or something. Apparently, you can put in your cd-rom and set your preferences to remix things the way you want them. Maybe it’s great, I just don’t have the time or the energy. If you can’t make a good song for me to rock out to, why am I supposed to help make it better? Jesus, that’s just lazy. I mean, I’m sure it’s great if you’re GrandMaster Flash, or Jaz Coleman or Bob Rock or Dimitri From Paris, I guess. But I am not. I’m lazy, I’m tired and I want the band to do the work they’re supposed to do. Also, I’m not 14. Maybe this would mean more to me if I was, and therefore, maybe it’s “the future.” But all I can think is: “Fuck, this would be a great idea for porn!” Perhaps I’ll live to see that day. Cross your fingers. Until then… oh, wait-- I almost forgot…

(Gratuitous publicist-loving one-sentence plug):
“Scum of the Earth reclaim the horror-rock throne, abdicated by Rob Zombie, churning out riff after riff of devastating techno-sludge, complete with gritty morbid lyrics, haunting samples and sleaze galore! A must-have!!!”

*Whew!* There. I feel better now.

Go get this. The name of the band alone is fantastic. A long time ago, in the late ‘70s, there was a TV show called WKRP In Cincinnati… and there was an episode that featured the then-shocking-idea of a “punk-rock-band” performing at a concert promoted by the station. All kinds of wackiness ensued. The band in question? They were called “Scum Of The Earth.” This band should get on it and sample the best quote from that episode, where they show up at WKRP and introduce themselves… “Hello, we are The Scum of the Earth!” Oh, the kids would love it… I already see a Nickelodeon tie-in…

What else? It’s on Eclipse, which is Chris Poland’s record company, by the way. I believe that’s the dude from Megadeth. So there is that, too.

Rock like fuck!

* * * ½


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