Metal Muscle Summer 1990 If Judas Priest could get in trouble over the supposed subliminal inclusion of the words "do it" on a record, where does that leave someone like Glenn Danzig, when the first song titled "Long Way Back From Hell" pointedly asks the listener "Do want to take a life?/Do you want to cross that line?" In one of the weirdest verdicts ever recorded, the judge in the Priest trial concluded that the non-specific utterance of Rob Halford, which could have simply been the singer urging his band on, was in fact an unintentional combination of grunts, musical sounds, and noises which just happened to form those words. In Danzig's case, it's quite clear where he stands and it's equally clear that he doesn't care if you happen to like it. What the parents of the two teenagers in Reno conveniently forget in their distress over their children's suicides is that there was a lot more wrong with those two kids' lives than the fact that they liked to get ripped and listen to a heavy metal record now and then. Perhaps it was their parents who should have been on trial. In actual fact, heavy metal usually serves as an outlet for any kind of self-destructive or violent impulses, and we'd have a lot fewer rapists and axe-murderers if more kids listened to bands like Danzig. "Long Way Back From Hell," like many of Danzig's songs, is about taking responsibility for your actions. Much of what Glenn Danzig says or sings may be controversial but he stands by his beliefs, which is a hell of a lot more than you can say for the sickening hypocrisy of the fundamentalist types that accuse heavy metal bands of devil worship. His music is about thinking for yourself in a world where the forces that control our society are gaining ever-increasing power. In the Sixties, there was a popular button which said "Question Authority," and Danzig's music shares a lot of the insubordinate attitude of that period. The talented Glenn Danzig began his musical career in the godforsaken town of Lodi, New Jersey, thankfully managing to escape the influence of Bruce Springsteen entirely. For Danzig, there's only one King of rock 'n' roll and that's Elvis. If Elvis is the king, however, Danzig is the Prince of Darkness. Starting with The Misfits, the first band he was in that achieved notoriety, Danzig exhibited a fascination with the occult that went beyond other punk bands such as the Cramps and the Damned. Even when Danzig was dealing in B-movie grade horror rock, it was clear there was more depth here. Songs like "I Love The Dead," "Horror Business," and "Last Caress" were melodic if morbid stabs of rock that showed that his songwriting, while still in an embryonic stage, was way above the norm. Though Danzig prefers to dwell on the present, it was during this period that his legend was made. The Misfits, however, were not the best vehicle for Danzig's developing vision. Live, the band was little more than a blur, with Danzig's lyrics and incredible voice getting lost in the overall sound. The band's hardcore carnage was a significant influence on the birth of speedmetal and in fact, Danzig has attracted a whole new audience that knows him because the guys in Metallica wear Misfits t-shirts. Today the Danzig sound has done a complete turn-around, though. A weird thing happened when Glenn Danzig slowed down his music. Not only has his sonorous voice come to the forefront of his band's sound but the music has gotten heavier. This one-time punk rocker is now unabashedly heavy metal. He's carried his cult following (developed with the Misfits and Samhain) along with him into his new undertaking, becoming one of the most important figures in breaking down the divisions between punk and heavy metal. Where Danzig's 1988 debut album served to establish his new sound with riff-based songs like "Twist of Cain," "She Rides," and "Am I Demon," his latest record takes things even further, delving into dark roots that he's previously left untouched. And we're not talking about his jet-black hair. There is a pronounced blues influence on Danzig II: Lucifuge, his new record, that adds a sinister edge more akin to records by Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson than Black Sabbath. At the same time, Lucifuge manages to be the most melodic record Danzig has made since the Misfits. Even though the band attracts a much higher percentage of females to their gigs than most heavy metal bands, Danzig isn't Warrant. Eerie Von, the band's bass player, and John Christ have been hanging around each other so long now that they're starting to look like brothers with their brooding expressions and evil moustaches. Drummer Chuck Biscuits, the friendliest of the lot, is like a surfer gone bad, while Glenn himself has perfected a detached countenance that affords him the privacy he so obviously covets. The path Danzig has chosen may indeed be a hard one to tread but despite the fact that he has the talent to write hit singles, Glenn Danzig isn't about to trade his integrity for a platinum record.