MUSIC: Rob Zombie, Slipknot scream into the Palms

  There Malcolm McDowell sat, taking in a bit of the ultra-violence that he once gave voice to over three decades ago.
   It was Friday night at The Pearl at the Palms, and McDowell was taking in an equally campy and concussive set from visually assaultive auteur/heavy metal cartoon character Rob Zombie.
   He didn’t last long.
   McDowell’s seat was vacant less than halfway through the show, but give the 66-year-old credit for risking his hearing in the face of Zombie’s groovy, gruesome grind. 
   McDowell and Zombie, who worked together on Zombie’s re-imaging of “Halloween II,” were in town for “Fangoria” magazine’s “Trinity of Terrors” weekend, which was three days of plasma-coated horror flicks, parties and panel discussions.
   Though the thematic content of the weekend was decidedly malevolent and mean-spirited, there was a fun, friendly air about it all.
Just before the show on Friday, for instance, McDowell and famed horror director George Romero hung out with fans, posing for pictures and chatting with anybody who came up to them in a small ballroom where an opening night party was held.
   At the Zombie gig, the mood wasn’t less kind.
   “Las Vegas is the only town we ever go to where people like to sit down,” Zombie (pictured) growled early on in the show, eyeing those concertgoers not on their feet derisively. “What is that? It drives me crazy.”
   “I’m not easily satisfied,” he added later. “You are here to entertain me. I do this every night.”
   Bounding across the stage, whipping his hair in dark windmills, Zombie was a pelvic thrust incarnate, part Ziggy Stardust, part heavy metal hobo. With artfully mismatched stage garb, he looks like a walking thrift store — with mange.
   Backed by a wall of flaming pentagrams, demonic anime and equally gnarly and lascivious B-movie clips projected on a giant video screen at the back of the stage, Zombie was a snapshot of the id of every 13-year-old heavy metal die-hard. He’s a study in suspended adolescence — and that adolescence is suspended from a meat hook.
   Coming with a mix of fan favorites from his old band, White Zombie, like a fast and furious “Thunderkiss ’65” and a hip shakin’ “More Human Than Human,” during which Zombie boogied with a giant, 10-foot robot, plenty of solo hits (“Dragula,” “Never Gonna Stop”) and some new songs from his forthcoming “Hellbilly Deluxe II” album, due out early next year, Zombie kicked out the kind of jams that metal dudes can dance too — albeit awkwardly, on beer-softened legs.
   It was a good time driven by bad intentions.
   If Rob Zombie favors a larger-than-life, cartoonish sort of mayhem, the band that performed at The Pearl the next evening, masked metallers Slipknot, were decidedly smirk free.
   A battering ram of overdriven sound, the group is like the musical corollary to “Fight Club,” all blast beats and bloody knuckles.
  “Can you feel this?” frontman Corey Taylor bellowed on the sledgehammer-subtle “This Blister Exists.” “I’m dying to feel this.”
   And the dude sounds like it, spitting out his words through clenched teeth.
   But Taylor also possesses a smooth, sonorous singing voice — this is, when he’s not trying to forcibly expel his lungs through his mouth — and this adds some much needed balance to Slipknot’s tense and turgid crunch on songs like the moodier, more restrained “Dead Memories” and “Vermillion.”
   But for the most part, this bunch is all about pinning their ears back and going for the kill, grappling with hydraulic drum kits that rise high into the air and diving into the crowd from time to time.
   When the band debuted a decade ago, they favored a particularly virulent strain of misanthropic rap rock, and they began their set at The Pearl with a battery of songs like “Sic,” “Eyeless” and “Wait And Bleed” that testified to as much.
   Since then, Slipknot has continued to explore their more tuneful side, culminating with their latest release, “All Hope Is Gone,” which even includes a sullen acoustic ballad titled “Snuff.”
   “Love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage,” Taylor sang on the tune, which began the band’s three-song encore. 
   Maybe so, but that rage wore no such disguises on this night.

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