When Danzig, the band, grew out of theMisfits/Samhain lineage in 1987, Glenn Danzig went into the new project with even grander ambitions and a long-term design. His vision included a seven-album arc, each one meant to, in Glenn’s own words, “stand the test of time.” There is no doubt that Danzig, the man and the band, have done just that.
Long into the future we will all be gone, but certain marks we make can live on. Decades beyond this one, Danzig’s music will be heralded by people of various musical interests; it will find a permanent place in the lives of those who need the escape and solace of his vast musical catalog. It has already achieved that in the here and now.
His is powerful music that has built an enduring legacy. It is music made by a ferociously independent seeker of knowledge for people who, as Glenn himself puts it, “are not 9-to-5 mutant-people-friendly.”
“Back in the day,” says Glenn, “we hated disco and FM arena rock records by these terrible ‘70s bands, and we just wanted to bring it back to being exciting and crazy.” Glenn Danzig came from another era, idealistically; the ‘50s and ‘60s were a time of rapid evolution for the new form of music known as “rock and roll,” but somewhere along the way that radical sound had lost its edge.
The danger, mystery and abandon of its formative years had been diluted by the time Glenn was forming his first band in Lodi, New Jersey. Danzig’s Misfits came out of the womb in 1977 with a will to explode what was happening at the time. They intended to rebuild the machine. “We wanted to see all the cool shit back in the music; we wanted cool record covers again, we wanted to bring all that crazy energy back, because it was lacking. And it ended up having a big impact.” Which is putting it lightly…
Between 1977 and 1987, the Misfits’ horror-punk morphed into the darker, occult-steeped Samhain. When producer and record mogul Rick Rubin showed interest in signing Samhain to his DefJam label and producing their first record, the band yet again evolved, and Danzig was born.
1988’s Danzig debut stripped away the creepy dissonance of Samhain and replaced it with a focused sensibility. It rocked hard and aimed for the gut; it was primal and memorable, a straightforward howl of sinister rock and roll played by a band of four who locked tight in their vision and looked unified in their presentation. With some inspired pieces of work to follow, including the epic III: How the Gods Kill and the controversial sharp left turn of 5: Blackacidevil, Danzig proved unwavering in his conviction. In 1993, special EP release, Thrall: Demonsweatlive, provided the band with its first Billboard-charting hit. The EP’s live version of debut album track, “Mother,” caught fire at radio, as did the accompanying video clip, and its success found the public at large finally catching up with the unique Danzig vision. By 2002, Danzig had completed the seven-album concept with the visceral 7:77 – I Luciferi.
But the completion of this seven album arc was not the end for Danzig, merely a new beginning. Two years later, Circle of Snakes found a band revitalized by its new creative freedom, not having to adhere to a multi-album concept. Sharper, heavier, and more metallic than ever, Circle of Snakes capitalized on the ever-growing legacy that Danzig had, rather unwittingly, been cultivating since the Misfits’ formation 27 years before it. As the man humbly says, “I just record what really makes me excited, and hopefully that excitement translates to other people.”
No problem there. Danzig’s fans are legion. The magical universe built by the man’s various bands has created a following that looks breathlessly forward to each new endeavor, whether its Glenn’s dark gothic take on classical music (the Black Aria albums), new publications and movies from his multi-media company, Verotik, or, indeed, new Danzig albums.
And if his fans are legion, his influence might be called immeasurable. Anyone playing rock or metal of a dark, gothic, and/or occult variety owes a debt to Danzig’s deep discography. Cover songs of Misfits, Samhain and Danzig tracks have appeared on records and in stage performances by bands the world over. And when members of bands like My Chemical Romance, AFI, Dimmu Borgir, Marduk and evenMetallica invoke the Danzig name, it is with utmost reverence. This is not to mention Danzig’s songwriting collaborations with legendary names like Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison; his appearances on soundtracks for 1987 movie Less Than Zero and 2009’s Golden Globe-winning The Hangover; or the success of the firstBlack Aria album, which debuted at the coveted #1 position on the Billboard classical chart in 1992. Safe to say the modern rock and metal landscape would look quite different today had young Glenn Danzig chosen another profession those many years ago.
So it is that 2010 finds the release of the first Danzig solo album since 2004’s Circle of Snakes. Not counting Black Aria II and The Lost Tracks of Danzig releases, Danzig fans haven’t had much new music with which to sate their ferocious appetites in the past several years. That will all change with the release ofDeth Red Sabaoth.
Released in June 22, 2010 by The End Records, in tandem with Glenn’s own Evilive label, the 11-song album is an extraordinary piece of work, and one well worth the wait. The album’s swampy, bayou-creep, “Ju Ju Bone,” is a relatively upbeat moment on an otherwise dark and brooding album. First single, “On a Wicked Night,” couldn’t be more representative of the Danzig style, incorporating bluesy steel-string acoustic guitar, ghostly sonic atmospheres and a chorus as harrowing as it is infectious. The wickedly seductive “Black Candy” evokes paranoia and terror in its doom-laden frame. “The Revengeful,” “Night Star Hell” and the two-part “Pyre of Souls” all sway and pulse with a vindictive, sinister lurch—all colored in various shades of black by Glenn’s expressive wailing, which has the power and clarity to rival his best vocal efforts of the past.
And while guitarist Tommy Victor and drummer Johnny Kelly are also known for their work in Prong/Ministry and Type O Negative, respectively, their performances are totally Danzig-ified on the album—and that’s a good thing, because Danzig music is a singular force in the modern music landscape. There is nothing else like it. It is timeless and trend-defying.
Deth Red Sabaoth is quintessential Danzig, possessing the rootsy vibe of those early albums and carrying with it the wisdom and confidence that comes with experience. It is both companion to Danzig’s previous eight studio albums and a career-defining strike of its own. It possesses a hunger and a vibrancy that bands a fraction of Danzig’s age could only hope to have.
The very definition of the proverbial “illustrious career,” Danzig has taken his rightful place in our culture. It should be no surprise how powerful, compelling, frighteningly strong an album Deth Red Sabaoth is. It’s just in Danzig’s blood. No matter how a legend comes into this world, it is quite true that a legend never truly dies…
|Glenn Danzig, Tommy Victor, Johnny Kelly, Steve Zing|