90s Score: 9/10
2020 Score: 7/10
The early to mid-’90s were major formative years for me and in 94, I was still far more into video games than I was music. Around that same time, Panasonic put out a home console that has been lost to the ages of time, the 3DO. In my hometown, there was a place that specialized in renting out video games and consoles and I would often frequent there trying out different things. One frequent rental was the 3DO and a Mortal Kombat clone called The Way of the Warrior. The game was, well, near as I can remember – not that good, but the soundtrack was my introduction to White Zombie which kept me returning.
Rather than having an original soundtrack, the game featured their 3rd album, 1992’s La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1, which I sought out soon after I realized that’d be cheaper than constantly renting the system & game (hey, I was a dumb young ‘un at the time, cut me some slack). The album was a welcome alternative to the constant exposure to the trend of flannel-wearing slacker chic grunge with White Zombie’s over the top image of a psychedelic grindhouse circus peddling colorful, sugar-coated devil worship. They dipped their toes enough into dark references of satanism, horror movies and the like, but kept it light, energetic, and fun. It’s no wonder the album had such a heavy draw at the time. The music was edgy with dark themes, but nitro-boosted fun right out of the gate opening with “Welcome to Planet Motherfucker/Psychoholic Slag” and then keeping the hits coming with singles “Thunderkiss ‘65” and “Black Sunshine.”
Putting on the album again for the first full listen in at least 15 years for this review, the album started out just as powerful and drawing as I remembered. But then it started getting to songs I had forgotten and reminded me why I forgot them. Some tracks on the album are timeless, but some now sound dated, cheesy, or just unremarkable. Songs like “I Am Legend” and closer “Warp Asylum” just don’t have the same impact. Could be the writing, could be my developing musical tastes at the time, but revisiting those songs just started seeming more of a chore than enjoyable. Plus, I really hope for Rob Zombie’s sake that Gene Simmons never trademarked the word “Yeah” because then he’d owe him SO much money.
The closest album I can relate this to is Refused’s Songs To Fan The Flames of Discontent. Not for similar style, but for a similar experience. Both albums were the precursors to each band developing that certain element that was incorporated in their follow-up albums which act as anchors to their respective discographies. I think it would be difficult for anyone to argue that Refused’s Shape of Punk to Come and White Zombie’s Astro-Creep 2000 are anything less than iconic musical staples for each groups’ sound and genre. The issue is these albums wound up overshadowing the records that came before them making Songs… and La Sexorcisto seem somewhat less important. I don’t believe that for a second. La Sexorcisto may not be chocked full of hits as I remember, but it is still a solid record that deserves to be returned to.
Written by Ted Berger
*Edited by Dominic Abate