Make Them Die Slowly is the second album by White Zombie released in 1989. It is presumably named after the 1981 cannibal movieCannibal Ferox, which was originally released in the US as Make Them Die Slowly. There is a printing error on the CD's side saying "Let Them Die Slowly" instead of the album's proper title. It was the band's only album with John Ricci on guitar.
Iggy Pop, who was an admirer of their last album, recommended that the band recruit producer Bill Laswell to work on their follow-up release. It is reported that the band spent a total of four days in the recording studio and had to re-record the album three separate times. The band was not satisfied with the first finished product due to it sounding too similar to their last album. In a 2010 interview, Sean Yseult recalled her experience recording the album:
We made it once, it sounded good, Rob hated it. We made it again, the songs getting more and more uptight and overwritten, and got interrupted halfway through – Bill Laswell now wanted to make the record and start from scratch. We made it a third time, and it was the worst version of all three! I hate the way this record sounds, not to mention my memories of Laswell sitting me down and making me play in a chair, having me hit the strings ever so lightly so I wouldn’t 'clip' the note – what a pile of bullshit!
By that time the lack of money and shoddy production made it impossible to include on the album over half of the songs recorded. Some of the songs cut from the release are "Dead Ringer", "Freak War", "Punishment Park", "Scum Kill II", and "Star Slammer". The final guitar overdubs, vocals and mixing were done with Martin Bisi, at his studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn, New York.
All of the members of White Zombie has expressed their dissatisfaction with the finished album at one point, with Sean saying, "it sounds like a tin can to me, with a muffled non-existent bass." Guitarist John Ricci left the band the day the record was completed due to a case of carpal tunnel syndrome.
The album displays change from the punk-influenced noise rock of their earlier albums to a sound more reminiscent of thrash metal. Rob has claimed "We fell into the noise scene by accident" and that "After a while we got fed up and didn't want to have anything to do with it. We tried to move away from it consciously". Although he had previously disliked the heavy metal scene, Rob's opinion changed after borrowing Metallica's Ride the Lightning from drummer Ivan de Prume. Sean has cited both Metallica and Slayer as being highly influential to the band during this time. In an interview with Creem Presents: Thrash Metal, Sean suggested that, "The new stuff is pretty close to being metal," while Rob claimed, "I don't know if you'd really call it 'metal' but there's a lot more focus to it. The songs are more like... songs."
Because of the shift in musical style critics usually review the album less-favorably than the band's previous efforts, citing it as being too derivative and lacking in good production values.Allmusic staff writer Eduardo Rivadavia gave the record two and a half stars, saying that although "Make them Die Slowly actually contained most of the key musical ingredients responsible for Sexorcisto's subsequent breakthrough", the album "leaves much to be desired by subsequent standards".
However, some fans tend to enjoy this release more as the album more closely resembles the sound that would dominate much of White Zombie's later career. David Sprague of Spin Magazine gave it an enthusiastic review, saying "Make Them Die Slowly might not be the metal LP to end all metal LPs, but it's damned likely to give you more nightmares and chuckles than anything else money can buy you these days". Sprague also gave the production uncommon praise, writing that Laswell "brings with him the simultaneously thin and heavy sound he's so fond of (c.f. Motörhead's Orgasmatron), and works wonders with it."