The longtime frontman for ’90s industrial superstars White Zombie, New England-bred multi-hyphenate Rob Zombie went on to forge a highly successful solo career and later branched off into the world of film. A lover of B-movie camp, horror nostalgia, and psychedelic imagery, his enduring 1998 debut Hellbilly Deluxe set him apart from contemporaries by balancing brutal metal power with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and sexiness that never took itself too seriously. Over the decades, he remained a fixture in the U.S. Top Ten, scoring additional hits with 2001’s The Sinister Urge and 2006’s Educated Horses. As his film career took off, he released cult favorites such as 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses, 2005’s The Devil’s Rejects, and a pair of big-budget reboots for the Halloween series. In 2021, he issued his seventh set, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy, and in 2022 he appeared on the soundtrack for the film The Munsters, which he also wrote and directed.
Born Robert Bartleh Cummings on January 12, 1966, in Haverhill, Massachusetts, his eclectic style was solidified early on: not only was he raised by parents who had worked in a carnival, but he was fascinated with horror movies from a young age. In addition to fostering his creative abilities in art school, he worked as a bike messenger, porn magazine art director, and production assistant for the classic children’s TV series Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Around this time, he founded the band White Zombie with bassist Sean Yseult. They remained an underground act for much of the late ’80s through a series of cult-favorite indie releases. It wasn’t until the success of their 1992 major-label debut, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1, that Zombie was launched to new prominence within the music industry, allowing him to try his hand at animation (most notably a hallucinatory sequence of the feature film Beavis & Butt-Head Do America) and directing (he was slated to helm a third chapter of The Crow franchise, working from his own screenplay, but the studio eventually pulled out of the deal).
In 1998, three years after the release of White Zombie‘s final studio album Astro-Creep: 2000, Zombie made his solo debut with the album Hellbilly Deluxe. When it sold more copies in its first week of release than any White Zombie record before it, he disbanded the group to move on as a full-time solo act, quickly issuing Hellbilly remix album American Made Music to Strip By in the fall of 1999. Starting his own label, Zombie-a-Go-Go Records, he gave bands like the Ghastly Ones a home while creating demented mix CDs like Halloween Hootenanny. He delivered remixes to a number of soundtracks while recording a new song for the Mission Impossible: 2 soundtrack, and rounded out his first major solo run with a Rob Zombie toy produced by Todd McFarlane.
He began to work on a feature film in April of 2000, funded by Universal Studios after he designed a horror display for their amusement parks. The film, House of 1000 Corpses, was produced and edited, but the studio backed out due to its own corporate standards. Zombie wrangled the rights to the film from the studio while taking out his frustrations on his next solo record, The Sinister Urge. Again working with collaborator Scott Humphrey (who had produced his first record), he drafted in a metal superstar cast including Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer guitarist Kerry King, Mötley Crüe/Methods of Mayhem drummer Tommy Lee, and Limp Bizkit‘s DJ Lethal. The record was another success, leading to a huge Christmas tour with Osbourne at the end of 2001 and another solo tour in the spring of 2002.
Zombie sold House of 1000 Corpses to MGM for a Halloween release, although offers from several smaller studios had to be refused because of the financial loss he would have taken. The film was a cult hit, prompting Zombie to begin work on his next piece of celluloid, 2005’s Devil’s Rejects. He returned to the recording studio in 2006 for Educated Horses, which veered down a more experimental path that included blues guitar, acoustic tracks, and even a sitar. Despite debuting in the Top Ten of the Billboard album charts and receiving a Grammy nomination for “The Lords of Salem,” it was his first album not to receive certification from the RIAA. A pair of best-of collections — including hits from both White Zombie and his solo discography — were released that year.
After a stint as director and co-writer of the 2007 remake of Halloween, Zombie Live, his first live album, was released in October 2007, the same month that he began an arena tour with Ozzy Osbourne. The release of his next studio album was pushed back due to Zombie’s involvement with Halloween II and in 2010, Zombie released Hellbilly Deluxe 2, his first solo album written with the help of his band (which featured John 5 and Piggy D.). Intended as a sequel to his breakout solo debut, it was supported by Zombie’s first world tour in a decade. Another remix album, Mondo Sex Head, arrived in 2012 and included reworkings from his back catalog by producers like Photek and the Bloody Beetroots.
In early 2013, Zombie returned with his fifth studio album, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, which would be Zombie’s lowest-selling album to date, despite its Top Ten Billboard debut. Months later, his film The Lords of Salem was released in theaters, accompanied by a soundtrack featuring songs by Zombie, Rush, and the Velvet Underground. In the years that followed, he returned his focus to his horror empire, creating the Great American Nightmare haunted house attraction, which incorporated characters from his cult films. He also began work on another movie, the crowd-funded killer clown flick 31 (which premiered at Sundance in 2016). He also released his first concert film, The Zombie Horror Picture Show, in 2014, followed by his second live album, Spookshow International Live, in 2015.
Zombie’s sixth studio LP, The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser, was released in April 2016. Featuring an abrasive, industrial edge that hadn’t been heard since Sinister Urge, Electric Warlock was produced by Zeuss and recorded at Goathouse Studios by Zombie and his band, which included former Marilyn Manson bandmates John 5 and Ginger Fish, as well as bassist Piggy D. That year, he also released the film 31 and recorded his band’s set from Riot Fest for Astro Creep: 2000 Live, which arrived in 2018. Months later, he reunited with Marilyn Manson for a joint headlining summer tour, which was kicked off by their collaborative cover of “Helter Skelter.” Zombie closed the decade with the final installment of his Firefly family film trilogy, 3 from Hell, which was released in late 2019.
On Halloween weekend 2020, the next album era was launched with “The Triumph of King Freak (A Crypt of Preservation and Superstition),” the Grammy-nominated single from 2021’s The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy. Issued in March, the album became Zombie’s seventh consecutive Top Ten on the Billboard 200. In 2022, he produced, wrote, and directed the horror comedy film The Munsters and appeared on the soundtrack. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Jason Ankeny, Rovi
The man (and the band) who first brought shock rock to the masses, Alice Cooper became one of the most successful and influential acts of the ’70s with their gritty but anthemic hard rock and a live show that delivered a rock & roll chamber of horrors, thrilling fans and cultivating outrage from authority figures (which made fans love them all the more). The name Alice Cooper originally referred to both the band and its lead singer (born Vincent Furnier), as they played dark, eccentric, psychedelic rock on their first two albums, Pretties for You (1969) and Easy Action (1970). After a spell in Detroit where they soaked up the high-energy influence of the Stooges and the MC5, Alice Cooper scored breakthrough hits in 1971 with “I’m Eighteen” and the album Love It to Death, in which the group finally stumbled upon the formula that made them stars, blending tough, dirty, guitar-fueled hard rock with Cooper’s sneering vocals and lyrics that were by turns relatable (“I’m Eighteen,” “Body”) and willfully spooky (“Black Juju,” “The Ballad of Dwight Frye”). Coupled with a live show that included snakes, electric chairs, fake blood, and mock hangings, Alice Cooper had something to offend everyone, and from 1971’s Killer to 1973’s Billion Dollar Babies, they could seemingly do no wrong. Following the commercial and critical disappointment of 1973’s Muscle of Love, the Alice Cooper band broke up, and Alice went forward as a solo act, delivering a cleaner and more professional variation on the themes of his early ’70s hits, while the band attempted to continue as Billion Dollar Babies, with little success. Cooper’s glossy 1975 solo debut, Welcome to My Nightmare, was a massive hit, and his shows became even more elaborate as he became a regular fixture on television, but subsequent solo releases saw his following dwindle until 1989’s Trash and 1991’s Hey Stoopid, where he blended his trademark sound with hair metal arrangements and production and gained a new audience. Cooper’s dedicated fan base kept him in the game long after his ’70s peak, touring regularly and releasing albums like 2021’s high-spirited Detroit Stories and 2023’s tightly wound, live sounding set Road.
Vincent Furnier formed his first group, the Earwigs, as an Arizona teenager in the early ’60s. Changing the band’s name to the Spiders in 1965, the group was eventually called the Nazz (not to be confused with Todd Rundgren‘s band of the same name). The Spiders and the Nazz both released local singles that were moderately popular. In 1968, after discovering there was another band with the same name, the group changed its name to Alice Cooper. According to band legend, the name came to Furnier during a Ouija board session, where he was told he was the reincarnation of a 17th century witch of the same name. Comprised of vocalist Furnier — who would soon begin calling himself Alice Cooper — guitarist Mike Bruce, guitarist Glen Buxton, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith, the group moved to California in 1968. There they met Shep Gordon, who became their manager, and Frank Zappa, who signed Alice Cooper to his Straight Records imprint.
Alice Cooper released their first album, Pretties for You, in 1969. Easy Action followed early in 1970, but failed to chart. The group’s reputation in Los Angeles was slowly shrinking, so the band moved to Furnier’s hometown of Detroit. For the next year, the group refined their bizarre stage show. Late in 1970, the group’s contract was transferred to Straight‘s distributor Warner Bros., and they began recording their third album with producer Bob Ezrin. With Ezrin’s assistance, Alice Cooper developed their classic heavy metal crunch on 1971’s Love It to Death, which featured the number 21 hit single “Eighteen”; the album peaked at number 35 and went gold. The success enabled the group to develop a more impressive, elaborate live show, which made them a highly popular concert attraction across the U.S. and eventually the U.K. Killer, released late in 1971, was another gold album.
Released in the summer of 1972, School’s Out was Alice Cooper’s breakthrough record, peaking at number two and selling over a million copies. The title song became a Top Ten hit in the U.S. and a number one single in the U.K. Billion Dollar Babies, released the following year, was the group’s biggest hit, reaching number one in both America and Britain; the album’s first single, “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” became a Top Ten hit in Britain, peaking at number 25 in the U.S. Muscle of Love appeared late in 1973, yet it failed to capitalize on the success of Billion Dollar Babies. After Muscle of Love, Furnier and the rest of Alice Cooper parted ways to pursue other projects. Having officially changed his name to Alice Cooper, Furnier embarked on a similarly theatrical solo career; the rest of the band released one unsuccessful album under the name Billion Dollar Babies, while Mike Bruce and Neal Smith both recorded solo albums that were never issued. In the fall of 1974, a compilation of Alice Cooper’s five Warner albums, entitled Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits, became a Top Ten hit.
For his first solo album, Welcome to My Nightmare, Cooper hired Lou Reed‘s backing band from Rock ‘N’ Roll Animal — guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter, bassist Prakash John, keyboardist Joseph Chrowski, and drummer Penti Glan — as his supporting group. Released in the spring of 1975, the record was similar to his previous work and became a Top Ten hit in America, launching the hit acoustic ballad “Only Women Bleed.” Its success put an end to any idea of reconvening Alice Cooper the band. Its follow-up, 1976’s Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, was another hit, going gold in the U.S. After that album, Cooper’s career began to slip, partially due to changing trends and partially due to his alcoholism. Cooper entered rehab in 1978, writing an album about his treatment called From the Inside (1978) with Bernie Taupin, Elton John‘s lyricist. During the early ’80s, Cooper continued to release albums and tour, yet he was no longer as popular as he was during his early-’70s heyday.
Cooper made a successful comeback in the late ’80s, sparked by his appearances in horror films and a series of pop-metal bands that paid musical homage to his classic early records and concerts. Constrictor, released in 1986, started his comeback, but it was 1989’s Trash that returned Cooper to the spotlight. Produced by the proven hitmaker Desmond Child, Trash featured guest appearances by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, and most of Aerosmith; the record became a Top Ten hit in Britain and peaked at number 20 in the U.S., going platinum. “Poison,” a midtempo rocker featured on the album, became Cooper’s first Top Ten single since 1977. After the release of Trash, he continued to star in the occasional film, tour, and record, although he wasn’t able to retain the audience he’d recaptured with Trash. Still, 1991’s Hey Stoopid and 1994’s The Last Temptation were generally solid, professional efforts that helped Cooper settle into a comfortable cult status without damaging the critical goodwill surrounding his ’70s output. After a live album, 1997’s Fistful of Alice, Cooper returned on the smaller Spitfire label in 2000 with Brutal Planet, and Dragontown a year later. The Eyes of Alice Cooper appeared in 2003 and found Cooper and company playing a more stripped-down brand of near-garage rock. Dirty Diamonds from 2005 was nearly as raw and hit the streets around the same time Cooper premiered his syndicated radio show Nights with Alice Cooper. Three years later he returned with Along Came a Spider, a concept album that told the story of a spider-obsessed serial killer. In 2010, he released the live album Theatre of Death, along with a download-only EP of redone Cooper classics titled Alice Does Alice. 2011’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare, a sequel to his 1975 conceptual classic of the same name (minus the 2), was recorded with longtime co-conspirator Bob Ezrin, and featured 14 brand-new cuts that spanned multiple genres and relied on the talents of a host of previous members of the Alice Cooper band (including Steve Hunter), as well as a guest spot from pop superstar Ke$ha. The same year, he was awarded the Kerrang! Icon Award.
Advancing years didn’t prevent Cooper from maintaining a hectic schedule, and by 2012 he was touring with Iron Maiden and headlining Bloodstock Open Air. Aside from his musical pursuits, he also starred in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Dark Shadows, playing himself alongside Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, and Michelle Pfeiffer. He returned to touring in 2014 as the opening act for Mötley Crüe‘s final tour, and the following year he unveiled a new supergroup called Hollywood Vampires, which included Johnny Depp and Joe Perry. They subsequently released an album of rock covers. He reunited with Ezrin yet again for his 27th studio record. Paranormal was released in 2017, featuring contributions from ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons, Deep Purple‘s Roger Glover, and U2‘s Larry Mullen, alongside original bandmembers Smith, Dunaway, and Bruce. The album was also released in a special edition with a bonus disc of live material. Early the following year, an EP was released, centered around Paranormal single “The Sound of A,” which included a handful of live cuts from his 2017 tour. In August 2018, Cooper released A Paranormal Evening at the Olympia Paris, a live album drawn from his European tour in support of the Paranormal album. A 2019 EP, Breadcrumbs, saw Cooper paying tribute to his hometown of Detroit with songs written about his early garage rock heroes. He continued the Detroit homage on his next full length, 2021’s Detroit Stories. In addition to many new songs of his own, the album included covers of Bob Seger, Detroit indie mainstays Outrageous Cherry, and the Velvet Underground‘s “Rock & Roll” presented in the style of Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels‘ 1971 rendition. The LP peaked at number 47 on the Billboard 200 and at number seven on the Top Independent Albums chart. The following year saw the release of the concert album Detroit Stories/Paranormal/A Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper at The Olympia, Paris. In August of 2023, Cooper released a new album, Road. This set of new, guitar-heavy tunes sought to capture the power his band had in an on-stage setting. In addition to the album’s live sound, Road was held together by the loose conceptual theme of situations unique to the rock and roll touring life. The album came out concurrently with a tour Cooper was booked for supporting Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard, and he had plans for a co-headlining tour with Rob Zombie later in the year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Mark Deming, Rovi
Born in 1981 in Chicago, Ministry has been the lifetime passion project of founder Al Jourgensen, considered to be the pioneer of industrial music. In its early days, Ministry was identifiable by its heavy synth-pop material in line with the new sounds and technology that were being developed in the ‘80s. Ministry’s output began with four 12” singles on Wax Trax! Records in 1981 before the first LP With Sympathy in 1983 via Arista Records. As time progressed however, so did Ministry, quickly developing a harsher, and more stylized sound that the band soon became infamous for on seminal albums Twitch (1986), The Land of Rape and Honey (1988), and The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste (1989). With the release of Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and The Way to Suck Eggs (1992), Ministry hit an all time high in the mainstream musical realm and received its first Grammy nomination. In total, Ministry has been nominated for a Grammy award six times. After an indefinite hiatus in 2013, Ministry’s 2018 album, AmeriKKKant, continued to reflect Jourgensen’s views on the frightening state of society and politics. Ministry’s newest album MORAL HYGIENE is set to be released on October 1st, 2021 via Nuclear Blast Records.
American hard rock outfit Filter crushes caustic, head-rattling aggression into a melodic, electronic-leaning industrial package, bridging the worlds of alternative and metal. Emerging as one of the most popular bands in the mid-’90s post-industrial alternative scene, they evolved from a Nine Inch Nails offshoot into a fully realized entity under the guidance of primary creative force Richard Patrick, who was a part of NIN in their early days. Breaking into the mainstream with their 1995 debut Short Bus, Filter made their contribution to the era with the enduring single “Hey Man, Nice Shot” before expanding their creative scope and incorporating fresh elements for their highest-charting effort to date, Title of Record. That album also spawned their highest-charting single with the surprisingly vulnerable ballad “Take a Picture,” which peaked just shy of the Top Ten on the Hot 100. 2002’s The Amalgamut kept them firmly entrenched as rock radio favorites, but as the landscape shifted into the 2010s, fluctuating chart performance and sales created a lull, with 2013’s The Sun Comes Out Tonight briefly pulling Filter to their best showing on the Billboard 200 in over a decade. At the close of the 2010s, Patrick celebrated Filter’s ’90s peak with deluxe reissues of their first two efforts. Material from sessions intended as a follow-up to one of those albums, Short Bus, would wind up on their eighth album, 2023’s The Algorithm.
Filter came to life in the early ’90s, created by vocalist and primary member Richard Patrick, who had been a guitarist with Nine Inch Nails during that band’s Pretty Hate Machine and Broken eras. In 1993, Patrick decided to leave NIN to form his own band. He met Brian Liesegang through a mutual friend and the pair began to record together. Patrick handled vocals, guitars, bass, programming, and drums, while Liesegang covered programming, guitars, keyboards, and drums. Since they had both experimented with electronics early in their careers, the band’s initial sound was reminiscent of a more-muscular brand of industrial than NIN. In 1995, after signing with Reprise, they released their debut full-length, Short Bus, which was recorded at a small house on the outskirts of Cleveland. The album became a surprise hit and — thanks to the MTV and alternative radio hit “Hey Man, Nice Shot” — was certified gold by the summer. Eventually, Short Bus went platinum. In order to promote the record, the duo recruited guitarist Geno Lenardo, bassist Frank Cavanaugh, and drummer Matt Walker and embarked on tour.
To keep interest stoked, Filter also contributed a prolific string of tracks to cult favorite soundtracks, delivering “Jurassitol” (The Crow: City of Angels), the Crystal Method collaboration “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do” (Spawn), and “Thanks Bro” and “One” for a pair of X-Files compilations. Despite the band’s burgeoning status, Liesegang departed in 1997 over creative differences. Patrick retained the Filter name for 1999’s sophomore release Title of Record, which was also certified platinum and spawned an even bigger mainstream hit with the crossover Top 20 single “Take a Picture.”
Filter’s third album, The Amalgamut, followed three years later, after which the band went on a short hiatus while Patrick entered rehabilitation for addiction. Around 2005, he announced the formation of a new band, Army of Anyone, which he created with former members of Stone Temple Pilots and David Lee Roth‘s touring band. However, Patrick did not abandon his original group, and Filter returned in 2008 with the emotional Anthems for the Damned, dedicated to a friend who was killed in Iraq. The band’s first greatest-hits compilation, The Very Best Things (1995-2008), followed in 2009.
Filter’s fifth set, 2010’s The Trouble with Angels, marked an unapologetic return to the sound of Short Bus. The Trouble with Angels performed well enough — it debuted at 64 on the Billboard 200, reaching number seven on the Top Hard Rock Albums chart — to attract the attention of the hard rock label Wind-Up, which released the band’s next album, the Bob Marlette-produced The Sun Comes Out Tonight, in June 2013. The album incorporated an updated sound, adding some harmonies and electronic elements close to musical progeny Linkin Park. Sun Comes Out was also their highest-charting album since 2002. While recording a follow-up, Patrick’s supporting band changed again and he was joined by Oumi Kapila (guitar, programming), Ashley Dzerigian (bass), Chris Reeve (drums), and Bobby Miller (keyboards). In January 2016, Filter returned with the single “Take Me to Heaven,” which was included on their seventh LP, Crazy Eyes. While charting modestly on the Billboard 200, the album performed well on the U.S. Alternative and Hard Rock charts.
In 2018, over two decades after Filter’s breakthrough, Patrick reconnected with Liesegang to craft a sequel to Short Bus, which they referred to as “ReBus.” Various setbacks eventually forced Patrick to take another approach, but to celebrate their debut all the same, an expanded edition of Short Bus was released with a handful of remixes. The following year, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Title of Record, Patrick also reissued the album, bundling it with the fan-favorite soundtrack contributions from that era. A smattering of material from those 2018 Short Bus sequel sessions were eventually revived for The Algorithm, the band’s eighth set. Released in August 2023, the LP featured singles “For the Beaten” and Obliteration.” ~ Neil Z. Yeung