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RIP, 1/89

DANZIG: Danzig (Def American)
THE MISFITS: Walk Among Us (Ruby)

  Glenn Danzig's powerful croon and tense lyrical explorations of the dark
side have given him godhead status in certain cliques.  For proof of this,
just take a gander at the audience of the next Metallica gig you attend and
count the number of sweaty T-shirts bearing the logo of one of his bands.
And the comic-book zombie stage look pioneered by the late, great Misfits
inspired more than a fe fans and copy bnds to grow their bangs long and draw
dark circles around their eyes.  Yes indeed, the strange beast that is
Glenn Danzig has definitely left a mark kon the world of heavy-rock music,
and with the release of the first album from his new combo, modestly titled
Danzig, and the reissue of the Mifsits legendary Walk Among Us, we have
before us the perfect opportunity to examine his past and present, and the
changes that time hath wrought.
  There is no doubt that the Misfits were one of the greatest and most
influential bands to rise up out of the steamy primordial soup of punk rock.
Anybody who has forgotten this can get a quick reminder by picking up Ruby
Records' reisse of Walk Among Us, which originally sw the light of day back
in 1982.  Since then it's become a collector's item, with copies fetchin as
much as $250 from particularly rabid fans.  And with good reason.  It is a
13-song primer on how to destroy an audience.  Fas and furious, yet (as with
all of Danzig's projects) quite melodic, it features the distinctive gang
choruses and horor-movie lyrical iconography that set it apart from the
lesser efforst of the slew of siplistic hardcore noisemeisters who were
banging around at the same time.  The truly amazing this is that it sounds
as fres today as it did back then.  This can only be because nobody has yet
come along who can capture that same attitude and energy.  Bands like the
Misfits don't appear every day, and you owe it to yourself to check this
reissue out.  Everything is here, from "20 Eyes" to the incredible live
version of "Mommy, Can I go Out and Kill Tonight" to "Braineaters."
  But, as all good things do, the Misfits came to an end.  Danzig started
Samhain, changed his sound, hooped up with super-producer Rick Rubin, and has
now put out a new disc with a new band dubbed Danzig.  The music continues in
the same vein as Samhain, with Glenn's bluesy, Morrisonesque wails poured
over an undistinguished bed of plodding tunes, highlighted occasionally by
some seeminlgy arbitrary metallica breaks.  Sometimes they sound a little
like the Doors and other times like vintage Sabbath, but the most important
thing is that this record proves that Samhain was not just an aberration, as
some of us had hoped, and that Danzig has turned his back for good on those
Misfits-style, less-than-two-minute bursts of aggression and speeding guitars
that kill.  That's fine.  Every artist has athe right to move on to a new
territory, and if Danzig chooses to seek wider commercial acceptance with
these swampy dirges, more power to him.  Rick Rubin's production is, as
usual, crisp and clean--too crisp and clean.  There's not one bit of grunge
to be found anywhere on this album, when grunge was the one thing that might
have saved it.
  If you liked Samhain, you might dig Danzig's new record, but for a straight
shot of adrenaline and energy, run screaming back to the original.  As usual,
when the underground slithers out into the spotlight, something very vital
is left behind.
--Richard Lange