Thursday, June 05, 2008


One of the first things that I noticed when I initially heard Danzig was the terrific sound production. I think this was probably the first time that I heard anything that Rick Ruben had done and I gotta admit I was impressed!

The band sounds live in the studio (overall) and you hear every damn thing. The drum sound is fantastic - including one of the best bass drum tones I have ever heard! Of course, Chuck Biscuits is one of the greatest punk/r'n'r drummers ever and he pummels his kit mercilessly. You can actually picture just how hard he is hitting when you listen to the record! The time I saw the original Danzig line up Biscuits was the visual highlight - he was such a monster player that you couldn't take your eyes off of him!

But, John Christ is also an amazing guitarist (though I think he was well served by Glen reigning in his excessive tendencies)and again, the tone achieved is superb - kind of a mix of traditional heavy metal with some more modern sounds. Of course, Glen is one of the best singers to come out of the punk movement (despite his overly dramatic moments in this band). Eerie Von on bass, while he looked great, was pretty forgettable musically – other bassists were often jealous of him and the Cult bass player because they made big bux doing such incredibly easy jobs!
The songs on these first records were really well crafted dark metal tunes. Yes, Glen gets carried away with his “evilness” and sometimes is overly bombastic in his delivery, but these are real songs. Cool guitar riffs, super heavy beats and sing-along lyrics that allows the kids to pretend to be tougher than they really are!

The self-titled first album opens with “Twist of Cain” and sets the standard for the best of this band – raw guitar riffs, pounding drums, Glenn’s melodic screams and a sing-along chorus. But you realize that he can’t be overly serious when he sings “twist of cain-o, yea, drives my brain-o”! “Not of This World” carries on in a similar vein and then “She Rides” opens with its slower, sexier beat. Still intense and heavy, but shows that they’re not afraid to vary things a bit. Glenn continues to work with memorable melodies, too.

“Soul on Fire” has a heckuva soaring guitar solo by Christ before moving into a wild double-time number that was guaranteed to make the entire audience bang their collective heads! “Am I Demon” is again driven by Biscuits’ drums and you have to move to the rock! John Christ also puts in a couple more stellar solos. He later complained that Danzig constrained his playing, but he seems to do just what the songs require on these records.

The hit of this record (I don’t know how popular it actually was) starts out with a creeping chord progression, which Glenn sings over, then Christ basically plays counter-point to himself before the band all joins in, trying to pulverize your ears while singing about “Mother”! Shades of Norman Bates!

“Possession” is another half-step progression head-banger, with lyrics about “crawling inside your skull” – Glenn’s obsession with b-movies certainly shows throughout this record!

I still find it hard to believe that Glenn claims credit for the song “The Hunter”, though, and that was a bit disappointing. Yes, he changes a couple of words, but only a couple, and anyone would recognize this as the oft-covered blues tune (probably most famously by Led Zeppelin and Blue Cheer). But in his defense, I don’t know who originally wrote it either and on line I’m finding credit given to, alternatively, Albert King and Booker T & the MGs, though I thought it was someone like Muddy Waters. It’s a good cover, but I’m surprised that he didn’t get into trouble for this.

The record closed with “Evil Thing”, another hard-hitting riff-rocker that ends the album on a strong note.

Danzig II – Lucifuge continues in the same vein and there’s nothing wrong with that! (In fact, when Glenn went into other directions is when he lost his way.) There is also a nod to the Doors in many of the photos for this CD – compare the back cover photo to the picture on the front of the Doors first album. Of course, Glenn’s vocals are certainly similar, though he is a bit rawer and rougher.

Opening with a wall of feedback, “A Long Way Back From Hell” has the same ingredients as the first album – powerful drums, loud guitars and Danzig’s pained yet melodic vocals. Very rockin’!

This blends directly into the opening, descending riff of “Snakes of Christ”, where the band plays with dynamics a bit and creates another cool tune. Another slower number is “Killer Wolf” – more intensity and more fine vocal lines. Taking a cue from none other than Kiss, Danzig is smart enough to use the first person in many lyrics – “I’m the wolf”, “I’m the one” – so that the kids singing along can feel that they too are bigger than life. Smart stuff. Same with “Tired of Being Alive” – but far from endorsing suicide, it is a defiant tirade and what teen can’t appreciate that?

Blues roots are brought to the foreground in the quiet “I’m the One” – a simple blues riff and the entire song is pretty much just guitar and voice. A nice change of pace and it shows the debt that is owed to the many bluesmen and women who sang about the devil for decades before this band.

“Her Black Wings” opens with a hypnotic riff, has some nice dynamics and builds into a loud, group vocal chorus complete with “whoa-oh’s! Christ does some downright pretty finger-picking for “Devil’s Plaything” before they bombard you with a wall of guitars and energy! “777” begins with a very sparse, quiet guitar lick and then moves into a high-energy, slide guitar blues-rocker and trade off with these two parts a couple times throughout the tune.

The band actually does a power ballad of sorts with “Blood and Tears” before back into their more standard territory with the power chords opening the simply titled “Girl”, which lyrically seems to be a true love song. This doesn’t mean that Glenn backs off from his delivery, though, which makes it sound lustful, despite the words.

“Pain in the World” finishes Lucifuge with an ominous sounding guitar riff propelling a tune that sounds like a soundtrack for the bad guy to stalk his next victim before exploding into a high-speed ride of manic proportions!

Yes, the “spookiness” can be a little over the top at times (but is fun overall), and while Glenn has a terrific voice, he can be a bit overblown, but overall, these are great examples of 80’s/90’s hard rock/heavy metal!