Unknown New York Newspaper, 8/90 -------------------------------- ROCK REVIEW Musclemen of Metal, With a Touch of Soul DANZIG with SOUNDGARDEN and WARRIOR SOUL. Three alternative faces to heavy metal, and a new kind of soul music. Beacon Theater, Friday. By John Leland In the heyday of punk rock, heavy metal was a dirty word - a cliche of easy vice and silly clothes just waiting for extinction. But since the antipathies between the two camps began to break down in the early 80s, the punks have promised to make something of heavy metal - to make its excesses mean something again. So far, they've succeeded mostly in making it faster and less conspicuously the province of fashion victims. Danzig and, to a lesser extent, Soundgarden, took their music well beyond this point Friday night, in a rare showcase of heavy metal at the Beacon Theater. The marathon bill was by turns deafening, boring and ear-opening. Glen Danzig, who led the semi-legendary New Jersey punk band the Misfits in the late 70s and early 80s, has long been a cult hero in underground rock circles. In a scene dedicated to celebrating excesses of power to the expense of most everything else, Danzig is a rare talent: a gifted songwriter with an ear for elusive melodies and backwater gothic melodrama, and a singer with a broad, controlled emotional range. After a sluggish start, Danzig's set was little short of remarkable. Powerfully built in the body, with leather motorcycle gloves and mutton chops down to his Adam's apple, Danzig came on like a man from another world, a kind of cave biker, tossing biblical and folk imagery into meditations on good and evil. "Do you want to take a life," he roared in the opening number,"... cause it's a long way back from hell/ And you don't want to go with me." In Danzig's songs, some of our moral givens don't hold, but hyperbole always has a chair waiting by the hearth. The songs were alternately raging or hauntingly pretty, with Danzig's voice reaching for an upper register it held only with quavering vunerability. Unlike most hard rockers, the group used its quieter sections as more than just setups for the ensuing hard stuff. There was a macabre beauty to the passages Danzig sang accompanied only by John Christ's guitar atmospherics. The group played its blues underpinnings for folk mystery - as a tradition in which men sold their souls to Satan for musical inspiration, and a slinky guitar line signalled the presence of the devil not far off. Atmospheric and ruminative, Danzig's show owed as much to Roy Orbison (who sang a Danzig composition on the soundtrack to "Less Than Zero") and the Doors, and possibly to the mawkish ballads of late-period Elvis Presley, as it did to any heavy metal or punk precedents. Like those singers, Danzig seemed cut loose in a universe of emotional and moral uncertainty, not knowing where to turn for deliverance. For that, his show was as close to soul music as a hard rock gets. In contrast to Danzig's fairly subtle compositions, the Seattle group Soundgarden played slow, hypnotic drones. Its conceit seemed to be that when smart people play oppressively stupid music, interesting things happen. And sometimes they did. The truth was in the tension created by the group's love-hate relationship to its material, and to the audience. Turgid and monolithic, Soundgarden showed due contempt for the worship of monoliths. But too often this played as straight condescension, and when much of the crowd returned the band's contempt, the musicians didn't know what to do with it. An opportunity for something really interesting was lost.