The first real question in approaching an album like Educated Horses (or any such comeback album) is whether or not the “comeback” is really a good idea. After taking the reins on House of 1,000 Corpses, Zombie swore off making music as he wanted to focus on other artistic efforts. All signs pointed to that being a good move after the release of The Devil’s Rejects, but one session with former Marilyn Manson guitarist John5 was enough to make Zombie reconsider his decision. In short, Educated Horses may not be up to par with the metal legend’s best work, but it’s certainly enough to establish him as one of the finest performers in the genre, even on an off day.
Opening explosively after its intro track, the album is divided into two distinct yet similar sections. While the first half is rather straightforward hard metal, with nothing but the lead single, “American Witch,” to really distinguish it, Zombie brings back around his superior macabre storytelling in the album’s second chapter. He frequently juxtaposes his more uptempo, violent attacks at the establishment (“Let It All Bleed Out”) with softer, Skynyrd-influenced tracks pointing to his own take on the decline of the civilization, run amok by “educated horses.”
Nothing is more poignant, though, than “The Devil’s Rejects,” a remarkably grim blend of country western and hard rock emblazoned with the film’s slogan “Hell doesn’t want them/Hell doesn’t need them/Hell doesn’t love them.” While it may not hit on all of the points that the film does (how could you in a four-minute song, after all?), but it not only maintains the tone of Zombie’s sophomore film but also crystallizes the album’s “outsider” imagery—best explored elsewhere by name-dropping the Salem Witch Trials extensively—into something that’s not just vitriol. It’s here that Zombie shows that he’s not just another metal performer whose songs are filled with unfounded hate; he’s a performer—and now we can say, together, an artist—who’s willing to investigate various mediums and bring out some unexplored narrative within them.