by Mark Allen
– Senior Columnist —
If you think musicians that blatantly mimic other musicians are nothing more than talentless bottom feeders, then you may want to avoid this latest album from Scum of the Earth, the band founded by ex-Rob Zombie guitarist Mike Riggs, who continues to kneel, worship, and head-bang at the industrial metal altar from whence he came. A one line review of this release could easily read: if you like White Zombie or Rob Zombie’s solo stuff, then you’ll like The Devil Made Me Do It.
But while single sentence blurbs are great for movie posters, they generally don’t cut the mustard—or whatever condiment you prefer to chop—when it comes to music criticism, so let us delve deeper. Just because Scum of the Earth sound like (White or Rob) Zombie clones does not automatically justify their dismissal, especially for fans of this somewhat niche genre. Sure, the originality quotient is lower than whale dung on the bottom of the Mariana Trench, but Riggs makes no apologies for that. He never sought to revolutionize the genre; he just wanted to continue playing this style of metal when Rob Zombie went on hiatus to direct films. With Rob temporarily bowing out of the game, Riggs picked up the ball and decided to run with it for a little while longer.
So you know—or at least you should know—precisely what you are getting into. This is industrial metal served straight and features all the crunchily distorted guitars you would expect slapped on top of a foundation of pulsating techno beats and finished off with more programming (you know, all those bleeps and bloops) than you can shake your joystick at. It’s bass-centric, with mechanized vocals and a dearth of melody. Again, at the risk of overemphasizing the primary point, Scum of the Earth really is nothing more, nothing less than a carbon copy spinoff of Rob Zombie. Unfortunately, it merely mimics the more middling Zombie monster-metal; little on The Devil Made Me Do It can compete with Zombie classics like “Dragula,” “Living Dead Girl,” or “Never Gonna Stop.” It comes close a couple of times, but for the most part this album remains ensconced in second-tier territory.
Song quality bobs up and down more than a hummer specialist in an adult film, the album kicking off with the muscular, blood-pumping “Born Again Masochist.” This track actually comes close to competing with the best of Rob Zombie, all controlled chaos and metal guitars filigreed with techno beats and a semi-commercial chorus. The next track, “Via Dela Rosa,” is merely solid and seems diminished due to the fact that it is forced to follow on the heels of that juggernaut of an opener. But then comes a dud like the horror-themed (obviously) “Zombies Vs. Skeletons” with a chorus that is nothing more than the song title shouted eight times in a row. Sorry, guys, but that’s not a chorus, that’s an exercise in tedious repetition. But just when you think the album might be on life support and you’re considering pulling the plug, the title track brings forth a sonic resurrection with a roaring guitar riff, staccato vocals that hit your ears like a full-auto fusillade, and an angry chorus that hooks its claws into your brain meat. And so goes the pattern: good songs mixed with mediocrity sandwiched between junk.
All that said, there are enough decent tunes on here to earn it a recommendation, however tepid, for fans of the industrial metal genre. If you pick up a copy of this album with your expectations on a firm leash, then you’ll probably derive some degree of pleasure from the listening experience. But if you pick up a copy of this album with your expectations off the chain, you’ll probably be more disappointed than a devil worshiper summoning a demon and conjuring up Saint Peter instead.
Genre: Industrial Metal, Techno Metal, Heavy Metal, Modern Metal
Mike Riggs (vocals, guitar)
Brandon Workman (bass guitar, vocals)
Eddie Travis (drums, percussion)
Nick Mason (guitar)
1. Born Again Masochist
2. Via Dela Rosa
3. Zombies Vs. Skeletons
4. The Devil Made Me Do It 3
5. Zombie Apocalypse
6. Sounds of the Dead
8. (Mindless) Dead Things
10. Funeral March
Label: Goomba Music
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10