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Faces Presents Metal Muscle   Oct. 1991

Metallifriends DANZIG

   If you ever see the guys in Metallica bobbing their heads in a
synchronized rhythm and their own instruments are nowhere in
sight, chances are they're listening to the Misfits. Of all their
musical obsessions, a certain Glenn Danzig has figured most
prominently in the band's development. Metallica have made no
secret of their appreciation of Danzig. They not only admit the
influence, they revel in it, wearing Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig
t-shirts, covering Misfits tunes ("Last Caress"/"Green Hell" on
the Garage Days Re-Revisited EP) and generally expressing their
appreciation for the horror-rock maestro whenever they get the
opportunity. A few years ago, when Rolling Stone asked Kirk
Hammett, James Hetfield, and Jason Newsted what their choice was
for Best Album of the Year, their unanimous choice was the Danzig
   Glenn Danzig is one of the few outsiders given credence by the
speed metal community. In addition to the association with
Metallica, he shares both a record label (Def American) and a
producer (Rick Rubin) with Slayer. Though his own music is every
bit as intense, it is played at a throbbing, hallucinatory pace
that nonetheless sends his audiences into a frenzy. Danzig and
Metallica have enjoyed a kind of symbiotic relationship ever
since Metallica's arrival on the music scene. On one level,
Glenn's dark obsessions have fueled the imagination of the
musicians in Metallica, providing inspiration for their own
songs. The similarites between Metallica's rendition of "Am I
Evil" and Danzig's own "Am I Demon" are more than coincidental.
   Metallica's lyrics, written by James Hetfield, have come a
long way since the morbid fascination of Kill 'Em All, following
an almost identical path to Danzig. Glenn's early '80s punk combo
The Misfits merged pop melodies with speedy riffing and Glenn's
gruesome lyrics, which were initially inspired by cheap horror
films and comic books. But Glenn has grown increasingly studious
over the years. Starting with Samhain, the band he formed with
bass player Eerie Von after the demise of the Misfits, his
lyrics, though still absorbed in the dark side, began to draw on
literary sources, most significantly the bible. About the same
time, James Hetfield began to move away from the fantasy stuff to
deal in reality.
   Despite the imagery of evil, which permeates the songs of both
Metallica and Danzig, neither of these groups is satanic. Glenn's
music, whether you're talking about the punk of the Misfits, or
the blues-tinged metal of his current self-named group, has next
to nothing to do with thrash and yet it is obvious he shares a
lot of fans with Metallica - and not just because they wear his
t-shirts. It's obvious to them that Glenn is for real. He's so
talented that he could probably have gone platinum by now,
writing songs to order, if he had decided to tone down the dark
imagery of his songs and his videos but he has steadfastly
refused to do so. Like Metallica, Glenn makes his music for no
one but himself. If you happen to like it, then you're welcomed
into his world, a dominion that many have found to be seductive;
if not, well, then a certain admonition (best not printed in a
family rock magazine) would seem to apply.
   On a personal level, the members of Metallica maintain a rare
friendship with their mentor. Kirk, in particular, shares such
non-musical interests as comic book collecting, monsters, and
toys with Glenn and the two often go on the prowl together
whenever they're in the same town.
   Metallica's support has had at least a little to do with
Glenn's transition from cult hero to mainstream contender. They
took Danzig along on the European wing of the ...And Justice
tour, exposing him to arenas full of new victims. 1990's Danzig
II: Lucifuge delivered Danzig's most thought-provoking lyrics to
date to a waiting audience that knew the Misfits only by
reputation. With his full-bodied baritone voice finally finding
its rightful place in the mix, Glenn takes on the role of evil
incarnate in such songs as "I'm The One" and "Long Way Back From
Hell," probes the depths of erotica in "Her Black Wings," and
attempts to set Chritians straight in "Snakes Of Christ."
   His vision is fully embellished with music as tightly woven as
a tapestry, produced by a band that includes Eerie Von on bass,
John Christ on guitar, and Chuck Biscuits on drums. The laminated
backstage passes for Danzig's "Long Way Back From Hell" tour were
done up in the shape of an upside down cross which resulted in a
state of confused embarrassment for the journalists, music
industry insiders, and assorted hangers-on who were forced to
wear them, a stituation which no doubt amused Glenn.
   With Glenn Danzig and the Devil, it has always been a
situation of guilt by association. Why the censors come down so
much harder on Danzig than they do on say Madonna or Billy Idol
remains something of a conundrum for followers of alternative
music. As for Glenn, he's probably wondering why it doesn't help
him sell any more records. Since Lucifuge, the New Jersey born
underground legend has been taking his case to the people. In the
end, it is the swelling fan base he's been cultivating over the
past couple of years that will put Danzig over the top.