CLEVELAND SCENE, May 29, 1997 ------------------------------ http://www.clevescene.com The Misfits AMERICAN PSYCHO Geffen The ghouls are back. Over a decade elapsed since vocalist Glenn Danzig quit the Misfits to chart his solo career. And his dark, macabre metal albums -- including DANZIG, LUCI-FUGE, and the recent BLACKACIDEVIL -- have all enjoyed success. But whatever happened to his fellow 'Fits? Ask no more. Like the vampires and zombies often depicted in classic Misfits songs, bassist Jerry Only resurrected the Lodi, New Jersey group in 1995 and determined to keep the legend alive -- with or without Danzig. Recruiting singer Michael Graves (who, wet behind the ears at 25, had never heard of the Misfits before) to fulfill vocal duties, the band hit the road for a year-long tour. Most bands would've had to dust the cobwebs off their instruments after so long a hiatus. Not so for these hardcore rockers and horror movie fans -- they put the cobwebs back on. And now, with AMERICAN PSYCHO (their first release for Geffen), the Misfits have fresh material to incorporate into their hyperactive live sets. Longtime followers of the band will be pleased, as the second incarnation of the Misfits is not your average nostalgic, watered-down reunion -- these guys are picking up right where they left off with WALK AMONG US and EARTH A.D. in the mid 1980s. Tracked at Dreamland Recording Studios with producer Daniel Vey, AMERICAN PSYCHO is another powerful testament to the Misfits' cult status as progenitors of modern thrash metal. Commencing with the eerie instrumental "Abominable Dr. Phibes," the band wastes little time shifting to fifth gear. Breakneck cuts "American Psycho" and "Speak Of The Devil" draw strength and stamina from the muscular guitar work of Jerry's brother, Doyle -- and provide listeners with their first dosage of studio Misfits sans Danzig. Graves does a superb impression of the former singer's ominous baritone on "The Hunger" and the bluesy, Elvis-inspired "Day Of The Dead." But it's clear that this kid has his own distinctive set of full-ranged pipes. "Dig Up Her Bones," in which Graves bemoans the death of a fictional lover, boasts an urgent, radio ready chorus -- Point me to the sky above, I can't make it on my own/Show me to the graveyard and dig up her bones! "This Island Earth" and "Mars Attacks" depict one of the band's favorite subjects (the annihilation of the entire planet via alien invasions from outer space) and pack typical sing-songy, three-chord refrains. Sure, the subject matter on PSYCHO is campy, and most of the lyrics involve gore in both the living and dead variety -- verses about shredded flesh are juxtaposed with images of eyeless corpses and fang-toothed demons. The Misfits made a name for themselves by combining their two loves -- punk rock and schlock horror films -- into one unique and unsettling art form. Fans who once banged their heads to "Return Of The Fly," "Vampira," and "Astro Zombies" can now mosh to "Crimson Ghost" and "From Hell They Came." The material contains heaps upon bloody heaps of graphic content, which is par for this counter-culture band; listener discretion is definitely advised. Dr. Chud (the Misfits' Cannibalistic Humanoid Under-ground Drummer) is the percussive engine that drives PSYCHO's 17 cuts with his double kick bass drums charging like pistons. Only's frantic basswork gives the songs their distinctive, palpitating grooves -- but in remote spots his work is nearly smothered by the guitar-heavy mix. Doyle and Graves each turn in extraordinary performances, and it is established by the album capper "Don't Open 'til Doomsday" that the Misfits have awakened from their Lodi coffins with a vengeance. Metallica (who once paid tribute to the Misfits with their cover of "Last Caress/Green Hell") used to rock like this -- they should pick up a copy and take exhaustive notes if they're to ever overcome LOAD. Be sure to stay tuned after the last song ends. Bonus track "Hellnight" (a song the Misfits debuted at their Odeon appearance last year) is buried under three minutes of stereo silence. With it, the band also inters any fleeting memories of Danzig.