Before OzzFest, before they were Bevis and Butthead's favorite band, hell, even before Rob was Zombie, up from the darkest bowels of New York City came this vital Ur-Text of the primal unngh and yowl. Since it sold only 4000 copies back in 1988 and has been out of print since, we find it appropriate, even necessary to feature "Soul Crusher" by White Zombie.
At a time when pigfuck scuzz had become an artform and our ears had already been annointed by The Birthday Party, Scratch Acid, Locust Abortion Technician and Pussy Galore, this album was THE grungiest. It sounds like the master tapes were literally kept in the studio toilet to ferment. Quaalude thunder thud drums, big muff bowel-shuddering bass, rusty guitar strings through a blown speaker cone, and multi-tracked ratmouth vocals collide in a disjointed tribal monster-movie sludge that evokes the 13th hour into a bad acid trip while watching the Late, Late Show. Indie-legend Wharton Tiers, who gave us the basement murk of "Confusion is Sex", uses his lo-fi skills to help meticulously craft this atonal slop. Little touches like amp buzz, feedback, and false starts add to the overall shittiness of the mix. But don't get me wrong, all this ultra-grunge congeals into one the most kick-ass gut-puching "soul crushing" Rock albums of all time.
The first moments of Side A set the stage - an acid-echoed radio announces that the "killers are eating the flesh", guitars feedback, two drum beats, "Yeaaaaaah!", then the roof caves in. The "music" can be linked to the NYC no-wave of Sonic Youth, Teenage Jesus, Swans, etc., but it collides with the pre-metal doperock of Blue Cheer, MC5, Stooges, Grand Funk, and Sabbath. Jerky Godzilla riffs pound under retarded guitar solos and fuzzed out non-chords.
Rob Zombie's vocals mash up the verbal tics of Iggy, Jagger, Beefheart and 70's cock-rock into an unintelligible glossalia that owes more to generations of garage punks and rockabilly moonshiners than the billy goat gruff of later years. And to prove he's not just yelping mumble-jumble, the enclosed lyric sheet translates every "eyow!" and "uh-huh" into the stream-of-conciousness B-movie lyrics, giving us poetry like "Silver City crusading to the top of a fug'n bone break most vile experiment ready to eat your ass" (from RatMouth).
Bits from junk movies, TV, and random noise poke up through the murk - Night of the Living Dead, Three Stooges - a style which they later perfected into the hi-tech sampledelic sheen of "La Sexorcisto" and "Astro Creep: 2000". The songs sound like they were either improvised while the tape was rolling or barely written moments before, so loose and raw that any repeat performances would have to disappoint by comparison. Amazingly enough, I got to see White Zombie live on the Soul Crusher tour and they were even sloppier.
Of course, this brand of joyful noise couldn't last. White Zombie became a real heavy metal band with the Bill Laswell-produced bummer of "Let Them Die Slowly", then full-fledged Rock Stars and the current Rob Zombie technoid Devil Music Extravanganza (soon to be a major motion picture). I remembering reading a quote from Rob Zombie way back when where he said the real reason they went with a major label was so he could reprint and inflict the world w/ the early glory of "Psycho Blowout" and "Soul Crusher". We haven't seen anything yet, but I for one am looking forward to the 30-year retrospective Box Set.
FEATURED ALBUM ARCHIVE:
Freddy K. and the Breeze - Random Enforcement
White Zombie - Soul Crusher
E Pak Sa - Encyclopedia of Pon-Chak
Keith Hemmerling - Fairies and Figurines
Bobb Trimble - Jupiter Transmission
William Hung - Inspiration
Dufus - 1:3:1
Jandek - Live at Instal.04
The Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra - Chariots of the Gods?
Ralph Records 10th Anniversary Radio Special