Index Misfits Samhain Danzig Misfits '95 Undead Biographies Related Bands Appendices Lyrics/Tab Forum

from BLACK MARKET #11, 1994


Like all BLACK MARKET readers, I hold the MISFITS in the highest esteem.
They had it all: songs, image, power...Let's face it, they fuckin' ruled!
That's why today I find myself giving a long, hard listen to Danzig's latest
releases, trying to come to grips with what makes the music of Glenn
Danzig's post-Misfits career so frustrating.
I can't help feeling Danzig's on the wrong course.  Musically, I'm convinced
the guy's a fuckin' genius, but after three-and-a-half Danzig albums it's
now or never for Glenn to lift himself out of the Satanic slime pit and soar
again - or else sink into the quicksand of self-parody along with the dying
dinosaurs of heavy metal.

While 1992's "DANZIG III: HOW THE GODS KILL" still found him tinkering with
Satanism and some heavy sludge'n'screech, it's not as bad as some critics
painted it - in fact, there's some truly great moments.
Rock critics tend to be sheep, afraid to break away from the flock, and
Danzig makes himself an easy target for their predictable criticism.  For
dull-witted rock scribes who don't take the time to listen more closely, it's
simple to write off Danzig as just another metal band with a fondness for
Satanic symbolism.  Danzig is in fact working in a much broader field than
this - his music mixes hard rock with more traditional rock'n'roll and blues
forms.  Unfortunately the mix is a little too cautious - a little more Elvis,
Howlin' Wolf and punk rock and a little less Black Sabbath would certainly
help his talent come into sharper focus.  However, as long as he continues
to accentuate the arena-metal side of his music and use images of devils and
demons in his lyrics, the critics will continue to cram him into that cramped
Satanic Metal pigeonhole.
Though some may argue that the heavy rock route is a logical progression from
Glenn's previous work, to me it sure seems like a "safe", over-travelled path
for a singer who has created some mighty dangerous - and original - music in
his past.
From 1977 until 1983, with the Misfits, Glenn showed a remarkable gift for
matching powerhouse punk rock with inspired melodies and ghoulish B-movie
lyrics.  The power of the Misfits' music has grown over the years because
their records have an originality and honest excitement that few of their
peers could match.  Ironically, today Glenn refuses to talk about the
Misfits, except to berate his old bandmates with a bitterness that reeks of a
paranoid urge to rewrite his past - a past which continues to shadow him.
After the Misfits, Glenn started to take himself a bit more seriously with
Samhain.  To draw an appropriate Horror analogy, if the Misfits were an Ed
Wood Jr. movie, Samhain were a Dario Argento flick.  The songs weren't as
memorable as before, but their four releases contain some inspired ideas and
genuinely scary atmospheres.
Then in 1988, Glenn Danzig went big time.  Samhain were signed to Def
American, and after a line-up shuffle became simply Danzig - leaving no doubt
as to who the "star" was.
Ok, so after leaving us ten years of great music with the Misfits and
Samhain, who's to begrudge Glenn Danzig his stab at the big time?  Well, me
for one, because although he still shows he can put a great song together
(check out "Twist Of Cain" and "She Rides" from DANZIG or "Her Black Wings"
and "Tired Of Being Alive" from LUCIFUGE for proof) and that he can belt it
out with one of the most powerful voices in rock'n'roll, I expect something
more original and exciting from Danzig than some of the overblown heavy rock
he's now cranking out.
Heavy metal may sell (though less so in recent years), but at least Danzig
avoids some of the more obnoxious trappings of the genre: the testicles-
caught-in-the-car-door-vocals, the drumkit big enough to fill a condo unit
and (usually) the see-how-many-notes-fast guitar wank.  But most of the music
is still framed in the same heavy-handed metal casts that have been smelted
a million times before by much lesser talents.
Worse still, three albums later, Danzig is still grinding out Satanic mumbo-
jumbo lyrics like:
  "Devil on the left; Angel on the right,
   There's no mistake, who I'll be with tonight,
   Over in the fore, lamb's head in my lap..."
Yeah right, Glenn.  And yet he wonders why the critics make fun of him?
At least on HOW THE GODS KILL, Glenn had the sense to lay aside his Satanic
thesaurus for a few songs, so there's a few more dimensions at work here than
on previous Danzig albums.  Hopefully, this is a hint that he's ready to
break out of the self-imposed limitations of his Satanic metal straitjacket.
Unfortunately, Danzig, chose to lead off the album with "Godless", a
pretentious thud-rock epic complete with a "poetic" sermon segment which is
as groan-inducing as old Jimbo Morrison at his worst.
After this, things can only get better, and luckily they do.  "Anything" is -
gasp! - a love song with a lean, dynamic arrangement and the kind of great
changes and melodies we expect from a Misfit.  The song rises and falls in
volume, riding on a haunting, jangling guitar melody before roaring into
flames for its climax.  Definitely one of the album's winners.
There's a touch of "Smokestack Lightning" to "Bodies," a dark, bluesy pounder
which works well - even though it sounds like Danzig's gargling tadpoles on
the chorus.  Guitarist John Christ and bassist Eerie Von keep things
refreshingly raw and basic over Chuck Biscuits' powerful backbeat, leaving
Glenn to scream out some morbid, charnel house lyrics.  Pretty cool.
Also good is the tile track, which - aside from some intermittent chalkboard
guitar screech - is a magnificently dramatic piece with the vocals showing an
impressive depth and restraint.
Even better, he delivers a chilling performance on "Sistinas", a love ballad
that might even send a shiver down the spine of his hero Roy Orbison.  Like
Orbison, Glenn's voice is his greatest weapon, wand when he puts it to good
use - as on the previous two tracks - its force can be deadly.  These quieter
songs pack far more emotional power than more conventional metal-by-numbers
fist pumpers like "Left Hand Black" and "When The Dying Calls".
HOW THE GODS KILL plus witnessing Danzig's dynamic live show in person gave
me the hope for the future direction of the misdirected, misunderstood
The newest release, THRALL-DEMONSWEAT E.P., doesn't break any new ground,
combining three new studio recordings with four live tracks.  Elvis Presley's
"Trouble" (written by Leiber & Stoller) was an inspired choice for Danzig's
first ever cover song - it could've been written for him - but Glenn's great
vocal is smeared by too much tacky guitar work, which is a shame.  The other
two studio tracks ("It's Coming Down" and "Violet Fire") are powerful but
generally unexceptional.
That leaves the live cuts, recorded on Halloween 1992 at Irvine Meadows.
They sound just fine, particularly "Sistinas" and "Mother", but they're
nothing to work up a sweat about - demon or otherwise.  So we'll just have
to see what he does next.
If he can push aside the metal borders he's drawn around himself and move
into more creative and individual territories, Danzig may find he can "make
it" on his own terms.  Maybe he thinks he's doing that now, but I think he's
smarter than that.  I'll be waiting for his next move.

by Mike Stax