White Zombie’s La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1

“La Sexorcisto,” White Zombie's 1992 album, marked a significant shift in their music style, blending thrash metal with groove elements and incorporating eclectic movie and audio samples.

White Zombie La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One Remastered HQ
Key Takeaways
  • White Zombie’s “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1” marked a notable shift in their style, blending thrash metal with groove elements and diverse samples.
  • The album, released in 1992, achieved significant success, charting on the Billboard 200 and receiving double platinum certification.
  • The album set a new precedent in metal by extensively using samples, a technique pioneered in hip-hop.

A Shift in Sound

“La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One,” released on March 17, 1992, marked a noticeable change in the White Zombie’s musical journey. Recorded in May 1991 at 321 Studios in New York City, the album brought together the distinct vocals of Rob Zombie, the guitar work of Jay Yuenger, Sean Yseult’s bass, and Ivan de Prume on drums. Produced under Geffen Records by Andy Wallace, who also served as engineer and mixer, the album’s visual elements were crafted by Michael Golob, with photography contributions from Kristin Callahan and Alison Dyer.

Spanning 57 minutes and 30 seconds, “La Sexorcisto” delved into the genre of groove metal, a departure from the band’s earlier noise rock style influenced by New York City’s art scene. This shift reflected frontman Rob Zombie’s interest in bands like KISS and Slayer, steering away from their previous experimental art-rock.

The album’s release was a strategic move, following the band’s signing to Geffen Records, aiming to expose White Zombie to a wider audience.

The album’s release was a strategic move, following the band’s signing to Geffen Records, a decision influenced by the response to their 1989 “God Of Thunder” EP. This label change aimed to expose White Zombie to a wider audience and embrace a heavier sound. “La Sexorcisto” achieved a measure of success, becoming the band’s first album to chart on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 26 in 1993.

An interesting note in the album’s history is its connection to the MTV series “Beavis and Butt-Head.” The show, known for its animated protagonists, often featured White Zombie’s music, inadvertently helping the album gain a following in new markets. This exposure contributed to an increase in sales and a broader recognition of the band in 1993.

Evolution and Experimentation

White Zombie’s journey from a noise-rock band performing in clubs like CBGB to a pioneering name in groove metal is vividly captured in “La Sexorcisto.” Their transition, which began with the 1987 debut “Soul-Crusher,” found its pinnacle in this 1992 album. Jay Yuenger’s addition to the band played a pivotal role, infusing White Zombie’s music with metallic weight and danceable thrash metal elements.

The album’s sound was far from conventional. The interplay of rhythms, enriched with moaning samples, steered it away from being a straightforward thrash metal album, creating a distinct sound. A significant influence came from rap music, with artists like Ice-T, Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy shaping its rhythmic structure. This fusion of metal with rap rhythms was a defining feature of “La Sexorcisto.”

Innovative and eclectic, “La Sexorcisto” set a new precedent in metal by extensively using samples, a practice pioneered in hip-hop.

Sampling in metal music was a rarity at the time, but “La Sexorcisto” embraced it extensively, incorporating over two dozen eclectic samples from movies, TV shows, and other audio clips. This practice, more common in hip-hop, marked the album as an innovator in the metal genre. However, this approach brought its challenges, particularly in clearing these samples legally, impacting the album’s final content.

The choice of samples was eclectic, drawing from classic horror movies and exploitation films, including “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!,” “Night of the Living Dead,” and “High School Confidential.” An unexpected snippet even came from talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Adding to this diverse mix was Iggy Pop’s spoken-word part in “Black Sunshine,” a collaboration that was seamless due to his appreciation for White Zombie’s earlier work and their alignment with his punk sound.

Rob Zombie’s lyrical style in the album drew from old racing films and horror themes, showcasing a stream-of-consciousness approach. This album not only highlighted Rob Zombie’s musical talent but also acted as a catalyst for his future career in music and film directing.

Despite its eclectic mix, the base of “La Sexorcisto” remained firmly rooted in groove metal. Its distinction came from its use of movie samples, psychedelic elements, and unconventional lyrics, setting it apart from contemporaries like Pantera and Prong.

The Collective Force

“La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One” was not just the product of a band but the culmination of distinct and crucial contributions from each member of White Zombie. Their individual talents combined to create an album that broke new ground in its fusion of metal, groove elements, and visual artistry.

Rob Zombie, the co-founder of White Zombie, played a multifaceted role in the creation of “La Sexorcisto.” Apart from being the band’s vocalist, he was deeply involved in its visual aspects, contributing illustrations and guiding the album’s art direction. His initial vision for White Zombie took shape in 1985 during his time at Parsons School of Design. Zombie’s unique vocal style and thematic focus on horror and sci-fi were central to the band’s identity and instrumental in its shift from noise rock to a heavier, metal-oriented sound.

Sean Yseult, another co-founder, wasn’t just the bassist but also played a significant role in the album’s art direction and design. Her musical and artistic partnership with Rob Zombie was vital in the band’s early development and subsequent success. Yseult’s bass lines brought a distinct groove to the album, enhancing its overall sound.

The addition of Jay Yuenger, replacing guitarist John Ricci, marked a significant turning point for White Zombie. Yuenger’s guitar work, characterized by its hard, danceable, shreddy, and thrashy qualities, is evident in tracks like “Thunderkiss ’65.” His style was crucial in defining the groove metal sound of “La Sexorcisto,” contributing to the band’s shift towards a more metal-focused direction.

Ivan de Prume, the drummer during the recording of “La Sexorcisto,” brought unique rhythmic elements to the album, distinguishing it within the groove-metal genre. Following the album’s release and its supporting tour, de Prume left White Zombie to embark on a career as a producer/engineer and drummer/percussionist, eventually opening his own studio, Burningsound.

Crafting the Sound

The production of “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One” was not solely the achievement of the band members; it was also significantly shaped by a team of skilled professionals, led by Andy Wallace. Wallace’s role as the producer was pivotal, bringing his distinctive style and a wealth of experience to the album.

Andy Wallace’s reputation in the music scene is noteworthy, having worked with a diverse array of artists across various genres. His portfolio includes collaborations with Run-DMC, Aerosmith, Slayer, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Sepultura, Nirvana, Jeff Buckley, Sonic Youth, Rage Against the Machine, Guns N’ Roses, Linkin Park, Paul McCartney, and Avenged Sevenfold, among others. Wallace’s expertise in engineering and mixing was integral to capturing the heavy, groove-laden essence of White Zombie.

Andy Wallace’s production expertise, drawn from a diverse array of genres, was instrumental in shaping the unique sound of “La Sexorcisto.”

His previous work, particularly with Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” and Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” had established him as a key figure in producing heavy and alternative music. This background made his involvement with White Zombie an ideal match for their intended sound direction.

The visual aspect of “La Sexorcisto” was also crucial in complementing its musical themes. Kristin Callahan and Alison Dyer, responsible for the album’s photography, contributed significantly to its visual representation. Their work enhanced the overall aesthetic, seamlessly aligning with the album’s thematic elements.

On the Road

White Zombie’s journey with “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One” went beyond the studio, as they embarked on an extensive and rigorous two-year tour starting in 1992 and stretching into 1994. This tour was not just lengthy but also had an impressive reach, spanning across the United States and several international destinations.

During this exhaustive tour, White Zombie shared the stage with several major bands, significantly expanding their audience reach. A key highlight was supporting Pantera, a titan in the groove metal scene, which resonated well with White Zombie’s musical style. This opportunity allowed them to showcase their music to Pantera’s established fan base, further cementing their position in the metal genre.

The exhaustive touring of White Zombie played a pivotal role in amplifying the reach and impact of “La Sexorcisto.”

The band also supported a diverse array of groups including My Sister’s Machine, Paw, Testament, Trouble, and Crowbar. This range of bands, covering various sub-genres from thrash to sludge metal, provided White Zombie with exposure to a wide spectrum of metal fans. In the fall of 1992, they joined forces with Danzig for the “How the Gods Kill” tour, a notable collaboration considering Danzig’s influence in the horror punk and heavy metal scenes.

White Zombie’s touring schedule in 1993 and 1994 was relentless. They toured with Monster Magnet in February and March 1993 and later with Anthrax and Quicksand during the summer. The band didn’t stop there; they embarked on two more U.S. tours in the fall of 1993 and early 1994, one with Chemlab and Nudeswirl, and another with Prong and The Obsessed. Their exhaustive touring culminated in May 1994 with four shows in Japan, supported by Pantera.

Breakthrough Success

White Zombie’s “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One” not only marked a turning point in their musical style but also achieved significant commercial success, propelling the band to new heights in the music industry. The album’s performance on the Billboard 200, where it peaked at number 26 in 1993, was a clear indication of its widespread appeal.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) awarded “La Sexorcisto” a double platinum certification, recognizing its sales of over two million copies in the United States. This level of success was a first for White Zombie, marking a major breakthrough in their career.

Key singles like “Thunder Kiss ’65” and “Black Sunshine” played a significant role in “La Sexorcisto’s” success.

Key to the album’s commercial triumph were singles like “Thunder Kiss ’65” and “Black Sunshine,” which received substantial airplay on rock radio and MTV. These tracks not only contributed significantly to the album’s success but also elevated White Zombie’s profile in the music world. “Thunder Kiss ’65” in particular became a staple on radio and music television, leading to White Zombie’s first Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance.

Critics also received “La Sexorcisto” favorably, acknowledging it as a significant artistic evolution for the band. It was lauded for its unique blend of metal, groove elements, and B-movie samples, as well as for its overall cohesiveness and innovation. Such acclaim was echoed in 2017 when Rolling Stone ranked the album 93rd on their list of “The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.”

“La Sexorcisto” is often cited as an influential album in the metal genre, not just for its commercial success but also for its artistic innovation. It played a pivotal role in shaping the sound of metal in the 1990s, blending traditional heavy metal elements with groove, funk, and a diverse array of samples. This blend of styles not only set a new standard in the genre but also paved the way for other bands to experiment with similar styles, influencing the evolution of metal music in the 1990s and beyond.