RIP, Summer 1988 ---------------- Live Metal DISGRACELAND! DANZIG, HELLION APPOLLA-RA & GWAR The Ritz New York City May 7, 1988 by Mike Gitter He's back! No, Jason Voorhees Is probably busy hacking unsuspecting camp counselors to dogmeat. Leather- face can't break away from his fami- ly's "Texas style" lunchmeat business and Norman Bates Is likely laid up on some psychologist's couch working out family problems. Glen Danzig Is a lot more Interesting anyway and besides, how many of those fictitious mass murdereres-cum-antiheros have the Elvis-modeled croonin'and thrust- In' down like Mr. Danzig? It's been two years since Danzig played his final gig with his previous outfit Samhain, a band that always seemed like a better Idea than an ac- tual band. While Danzig applied an in- herent lntelligencia to horror imagery first charted out on the much celebrated Misfits, weak musicianship long proved a major drawback In the guitar and drum departments. Given a tidalwave of newfound popularity via Metallica's public adulation of Mr. Danzig's efforts, the time Is right for Glen's aural horrorshow to resurface. Enter celebrated Slayer/Beastle Boys/Public Enemy cohort Rick Rubin, with whose aid Danzig has honed his sacrificial chainsaw to do damage like never before. For the first time since Misfits days, Danzig has finally assembled an out- fit of true ability. With bassist Eerie Von Stehlman (a welcome holdover from Samhain), guitarist John Christ and journeyman drummer Chuck Biscuits (a hardcore hero known for breakneck work In Black Flag, DOA, the Subhumans and the Circle Jerks), Glen heads up a clearly talented out- fit. Unlike previous, Danzig outfits, where he was responsible for virtual- ly all songwrlting and lyricism to the point of actually playing guitar parts In the studio, the new outfit (simply monickered Danzig) allows Glen to concentrate on his true talent: singing. He Is known for possessing one of the strongest voices In the underground, and his recent title track to the sound- track for last year's glitzy Less Than Zero displayed highly unexpected talent In his Presley/Orbison com- parable vocalizations. With each appearnce, Danzig grows Increasingly beastial, his bear-like visage made more ominous by his trademark, face-sweeping devil lock. Christ and Von Stehlman- reminiscent of the pump-muscled Misfits, Jerry and Doyle-are mono- lithic bookends In stature and dis- turbingly powerful build. Form the near call-to-arms of "Initium," a din reminis- cent of Samhain, (with notable Sab- bath and Zepplin flavorings), the anticipation-wrought crowd were clearly pumped. This was Danzig's se- cond live appearance, the first merely two weeks before at a Southern New Jersey club, and the overall attack was polished and sure-handed. Surprisingly, drummer Biscuits emerges as Danzig's focal point@ showmanly pounding away to the point of enlivening crowdpleasing Misfits and Samhain faves "London Dungeon," "Horror Biz" and "Let the Day Begin." Similarly, Christ demonstrated flair and senslble taste enough to never degenerate his guitar work into endless, masturbatory solo- lngs keeping with Samhaln's tenden- cies toward Damned-like at- mospherics even when upbeating the attack on "Twist Of Cain" or "The Hunter," a new version bf the classic blues number delving Into healthy toplcr, Including murder, rape and cannibalism. Often listing none other than Elvis Presley as a primary Influence, Danzig remains as imposing a figure as ever, Invoking power and aggression through his bravado powered howls on "End Of Time" and "To Walk The Night." A cover of the Memphis monarch's "Trouble" brought forth suspicious hip gyrations attributable to Glen's longtime admiration of Mr. Presley. Unfamiliarity with as-of-yet- unreleased material slowed matters halfway through the hour-long set yet, following a year in the rehearsal space and studio, Danzig's back and all hell's about to break loosel If the crowd had its way, there would have been a real crucifixion that night! Led by the none-too-beautious Ann Boleyn, Hellion were, in a word, pom- pous. Typical, uninspired and self- Impressed, they were quick to earn au- dience scorn with Ms. Boleyn coming off as an unholy cross between Ron- nie James Dio and a nagging mother. Audience banter reduced Itself to a contest between Annie and the insult- hurling crowd over who. could make more nolse. Similarly, Apollo-Ra didn't fare much better. Virtual unknowns from Baltimore with a moniker that sounds like a bad Greek restaurant, their half- hour set proved them to be competent metallists of the Iron Maiden/Dio varie- ty. Typical in their approach, Apollo- a distinguished themselves as.overly- competent song-writers with hooks and choruses standing out on virtual- ly every number. Vocalist Daniel John Miller seems to be a student of the Steve Harris School of HM front- manship though-the guy could cer- tainly stand to loosen up a bit. Given a mere 25 minutes, Rich- mond, Virginia's-oops, I mean An- tarctica's-GWAR outdid even Alice Cooper's recent attempts at "rock spectacle." The set headed towards Tubes territory with Its grandiose outrageousness. Their short set treated the audience to one goat evisceration, one beheading of the winner of the "GWAR contest," three battles (including the vanquishment of the awesome "Techno-Destructor" by the scantily-clad GWAR woman) and the slaughter of at least a dozen au- dience members. Rumored to be the band that has killed virtually everyone In their hometown, GWAR's arena- rock-cum-pro-wrestling spectacle pro- ved fierce competition for the com- paratively laid-back Mr. Danzig.