Music Monday: 90s Flashback, Danzig Edition

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by Will:

So, waking up today, I knew I was going to have to do a music related post on the blog today, but unfortunately nothing came to mind immediately. So, I do a Google news search for music news in the past 24 hours, and the first big thing that came up was Justin Bieber’s new album… Ha, no. So that wasn’t going to work. Then I think to myself “What is the exact opposite of Justin Bieber?” Then it hits me…

Glenn Danzig.

Hey! This works. Just the thought of Danzig gets “the Biebs” out of my head, OJBG is 90s themed, and Danzig’s best era was the 90s, so I’m now set on telling you how freaking awesome Danzig is. Let’s put it this way, in high school, I wrote a 13 page biographical paper about the career of Glenn Danzig spanning from the Misfits to now. Safe to say, I’m a big fan, and a lot of that has to do with the first Danzig record I heard, 1990′s Danzig II: Lucifuge.

Now, I loved both of Glenn Danzig’s previous bands, The Misfits and Samhain, but it wasn’t until the 90s were just over, that I had actually listened to Danzig (just a note, for those who don’t know, Glenn Danzig is the front man, and the third band he was in was just called Danzig, it can get a bit confusing, I know.) Then, in 2001, while in guitar class, the teacher decided to teach us how to play “I’m the One” from II: Lucifuge. Life got real after that. I had never heard anything from Glenn Danzig like that. I was used to crappy recordings of fast horror punk songs about zombies, macabre stuff, etc. But with “I’m the One” it was more a song you’d expect to hear from a bluesman who sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in Louisiana. The closest thing that I had heard previously was the Elvis like Misfits song “American Nightmare,” but even that came no where near the bluesy guitar and vocal perfection that is “I’m the One” (can you tell what my favorite Danzig song is yet?). From there on out, I was hooked.

Don’t get me wrong, 1988′s Danzig I was a good album, and has some serious classics like “Twist of Cain,” “Am I Demon,” and the band’s biggest hit “Mother,” but you want to talk Danzig heyday, it’s those early 90s albums II: Lucifuge, III: How the Gods Kill and 4p. Songs like “Long Way Back From Hell” should be considered driving hazards, as it’s one of those tracks you can’t help but want to speed to. Moving on to the third album, How the Gods Kill, you have some truly fantastic tracks like the title track and “Sistinas” that had to be religious experiences to be see live back in the day, simply because they’re both just such powerful vocal performances (I still believe that the best recording of “Sistinas” is the live version on the Thrall – Demonsweatlive ep). Then we get to 1994′s Danzig 4p, which was quite different form the three previous albums.

4p marks an interesting period for Danzig, as it began a distinct shift in sound, a greater departure from past material, something that would continue even more drastically in albums following it. The last record produced by the famed Rick Rubin (who produced the previous three), 4p seemed a lot darker/moodier, with a somewhat subdued tone compared to “large” rock sounds of older material, in favor of a more atmospheric approach. That all being said, 4p does remain my second favorite Danzig album, as I can really appreciate artistic changes some bands decide to take with their music. “I Don’t Mind the Pain” is a great vocal performance, and the two faster/heavier tracks “Bringer of Death” and “Brand New God” fell in line with some of the older material. The two stand out tracks to me are “Cantspeak” and “Let it Be Captured” which are two of the more calmer songs on the album, but if you take away the vocals and other specific elements, are actually the same song, only “Cantspeak” is played backwards, something really uniquely awesome about those two songs.

Following 4p, Rick Rubin left, as did most of the original band, which Glenn Danzig had originally intended to do for each album, and… well, the following three albums, I rather not listen to, let’s put it that way. 5: Blackacidevil went a really industrial rock sorta-kinda-not-really Nine Inch Nails route, meanwhile the sixth and seventh albums were a more heavy metal sound, that I felt was trying a bit too hard, and Glenn Danzig’s vocals sounded hollow and winded at times.

2004′s album Circle of Snakes did come back to form a bit, but it wasn’t quite there. 2010′s Deth Red Sabaoth, in my opinion, is Danzig’s best album since 4p, with songs like “Deth Red Moon” and “On a Wicked Night” being particularly strong standouts, that call back to the Danzig of old. But the real treat that fans like me received in 2007 was a two disc set titled The Lost Tracks of Danzig, which, as you can probably guess, was a collection of songs that never made it on to any album, and that first disc comprised of songs mostly from the early 90s era Danzig, holy crap. Go look up the song “Cold, Cold Rain” just do it now, because I’ll tell you I got completely distracted form this post just to listen to it… amazing stuff.

Man, I talked a lot about Danzig, didn’t I? Told you I thought they were (are) an awesome band. So that’s my case. If you’re looking for some awesome 90s rock music to listen to, Danzig is definitely something off the beaten path that could satisfy your need for arena rock, blues, and atmospheric sort of stuff. Lots of various styles to listen to through those first four albums, any of the songs I mentioned are good places to start. I’d also suggest checking out The Misfits (’77-’83) and Samhain as well, while you’re at it, just ’cause.

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