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RIP, Summer 1988

  Live Metal



    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
     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.
     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.