In my opinion, this year's collection is stylistically and thematically different from the original in a few important ways. The first Hymns more or less honored its title with eerie pieces that echoed the vibe of a dark, cavernous haunted domicile. The album didn't have a story, but you could say that there was a setting. Listening to the songs, especially certain lyrics, made me think of a large house with a graveyard nearby. The music and artists were eclectic enough, but in terms of what images and ideas they brought with them, everything seemed pretty unified.
With the current effort, Rue Morgue clearly wanted something new to set it apart from the first compilation. There was the addition of fake (and hilarious) grindhouse trailers, obviously, but the songs selected were quite another thing as well. This time around, the producers of the disc seemed to be saying "Well, let's not try to tie it all together thematically. Let's just throw everything we've got at the listener!" Ironically, this ended up giving the second Hymns a stronger theme than the first. With the audio trailers and artists that included such heavyweights as Calabrese and GWAR, Rue Morgue succeeded in crafting the perfect audio complement to cinematic experiences like Grindhouse. A thousand clashing styles and ideas and monsters have been thrown out, drenched in blood, and packaged in 20 short tracks. For a midnight screening, it's the norm. For a music compilation stuffed to the eyeballs with excellent bands and bizarre movie trailers? It's the most fun you'll have with a CD all year.
Not every song is a winner. I personally would have left off "Birthday" by So Sick Social Club and Madchild. It doesn't fit the vibe of the rest of the album, and just isn't a very interesting or enjoyable song to me (is there really any good horror rap? I haven't heard any). Still, this is but a minor quibble. Rue Morgue and their Monster of Ceremonies Tomb Dragomir have bestowed another winner upon their followers, and I hope they continue this for many years to come.
Remember, you only have until July 31st to get it, and when it's gone, IT'S GONE!