The 25th Anniversary of Danzig
Not to get too solipsistic here, but last time Glenn Danzig brought his nostalgia act to Tennessee, he didn’t vibe too well with Scene staff photographer Michael W. Bunch. Convinced Bunch was shooting him without approval at an unflattering angle during Danzig’s 2012 Bonnaroo appearance, the diminutive, muscle-bound punk-turned-metal legend stormed offstage to confront and mean-mug the photographer with angry-bro finger-pointing and I-want-your-skull-style fightin’ words. In recent years, such punk-rock prima donna dramas and non-controversies — from a knockout punch gone viral to paparazzi photos of the singer shopping for kitty litter — have followed the former Misfits frontman closely. His current tour celebrates his eponymous band’s 25th anniversary, and like his Bonnaroo performance, will feature one set of Danzig headbangers like “Mother” and “Dirty Black Summer,” and one set of Samhain and Misfits classics like “Last Caress” and “London Dungeon,” with help from classic-era Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein. Luckily for metal fans and Internet meme police alike, Danzig’s hair-trigger temper still pays off with potent punk-Elvis delivery and YouTube-worthy LOLs.
Lodi NJ | Rock
When Danzig, the band, grew out of the Misfits/Samhain lineage in 1987, leader
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 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 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 magickal 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 even Metallica 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 first Black 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 had 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 of Deth Red Sabaoth.
Released in June 22, 2010 by The End Records, in tandem with Glenn’s own Evilive company, 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 Hel” and the two-part “Pyre of Souls” all sway and pulse with a indictive, sinister lurch--all colored in various shades of black by Glenn’s expressive wailing, which has a 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 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…
Vernon NJ |
Legendary Ex-Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein has broken new ground with his solo project, "DOYLE". A horror based hardrock/metal band of epic proportions, this quartet consists of two ex-Misfits members. Still grinding out heavy riffs is the hulking monster himself, Doyle, and bashing skins behind the kit is none other than the Abominable Dr.Chud. Alex Story from ’Cancerslug’, the Wildman of the stage providing vocals filled with misanthropic rage, while still capturing the beauty of the dark side. Solidifying the quartet is Graham (ex-Graves, ex-Let It Burn) on bass, unifying the skull crushing sound that is the machine Doyle himself has put together. DOYLE cranks out music as scary as the Misfits, as doom laden as Black Sabbath, and has the same hard-hitting in your face style of metal as Motorhead or Slayer.
Los Angeles CA | Rock
Faster than you can say heavy fucking metal, The Butcher Babies have
clawed their way to the top of the Hollywood music scene to become the
undisputed darlings of the Sunset Strip. Now, they are poised to take
on the rest of the world.
Fronted by Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd, and backed by Henry Flury on lead guitar (Amen), Jason Klein on bass (Azdachao), and Chris Warner on drums (Scars of Tomorrow), the Butcher Babies dish out brutal grooves that attack the crowd during performances that play out like a slaughter house carnival ride.
Rock Journalist Keith Valcourt recently hailed the Butcher Babies as “The Hottest Band in the World” in his review of a show. “The Butcher Babies deliver a loud crashing blend of heavy metal, punk and thrash that recalls Pantera” notes Valcourt, adding “their stage show embodies the horror antics of Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie. Carla and Heidi don’t merely sing: they assault the crowd with a blinding flash of aggression and abuse. And the crowd loves them for it.”
The perfect anti heroes for today’s lackluster corporate music scene, The Butcher Babies are answering the demand for a resurgence of the days when going to a rock show was an event with their blistering combination of theatrical presence and balls out metal.
Texas Hippie Coalition
Denison TX | Rock
There are two paths you can take in life. You can choose to fall in line and be a follower, always fifth or sixth back, lagging behind others. Or you can make your own line and live as you choose, with everyone else landing behind you, while you create your own thing. Want to guess which line Texas Hippie Coalition have chosen?
That's right. The purveyors of their own patented Red Dirt Metal sound are designing their own line in life and in music. For them, there is no other way.
Texas Hippie Coalition are committed to crafting a unique, original and thoroughly raucous brand of music that's born of both life experience and a respect for rock 'n' roll's forefathers. What exactly is Red Dirt Metal? Take outlaw country, toss in a dash of Southern-fried classic rock and mix it with some potent Texas power grooves and you've got a combustible sonic cocktail on your hands. Texas Hippie Coalition's third album Peacemaker is a textbook example of Red Dirt Metal, which is the sound the band has been honing and cultivating for its entire existence.
THC's frontman Big Dad Ritch, known as the "Godfather" of the RDM sound and an individual with a laser-like focus and vision when it comes to his music, believes that the band has hit its stride on Peacemaker, capturing the spirit of rock 'n' roll outlaws like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. He declares, "The outlaw spirit is still alive today. That is our goal: Bring it back."
THC, who were the first band signed to their label Carved Records back in 2009, want fans of classic rock bands to know that they are carrying the torch and that they want to be the keepers of the genre's keys. There will be no extinction of this beloved genre if THC have anything to say about it. "We want the people that love Molly Hatchet, ZZ Top, .38 Special, the Van Zandts and those bands that are growing older to know that somebody else out there is already waving the flag high," he declared. The band, in essence, is ensuring that the style continues to have new and noteworthy additions, such as itself.
But Texas Hippie Coalition aren't simply about making sure the outlaw rock style that they pretty much worship stays alive. They want it to evolve, infusing it with a modern edge and energy, thanks to the new tools (or is that weapons?) of the trade. Having also been surrounded and influenced by the likes of Black Label Society and Pantera –with Ritch proudly proclaiming to having seen the latter between 50 and 75 times live- Texas Hippie Coalition are turning in something fresh and fierce with Peacemaker. They aren't just paying homage to Southern rock's cultural milemarkers. They are proceeding with the intent to add to its canon.
The process of making the album was at first bolstered by levels of familiarity and comfort. "Me and [bassist] John Exall have been together a long time, and we're soldiers always ready to go into battle no matter what," Ritch said about his bandmates. The lineup is now rounded out by [drummer] Gunnar Molton and [guitarist] Cord Pool.
But there were also some changes and shifts, which also add to the album's heft and helped the band to expand. Texas Hippie Coalition recruited producer Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper) to work his magic and to help the band to further explore what it was capable of with an already established, branded sound. "We have a new producer and we already know who we are and what our brand is, so with this album, we decided that the boundaries we set for ourselves [are] in the past. We would cut that barbed wire and explore beyond those fences" Ritch said.
Exploring beyond those fences and cutting that barbed wire meant creating what the band calls "heart songs." Rather than saddle them with a generic term like "ballad," Texas Hippie Coalition chose to call 'em "heart songs" because they touch the listener's ticker. "They take you even deeper into the heart and soul, and into the deeper darkness," Ritch admitted. He even referenced his biggest musical hero's ability to vacillate between the dark and the light. "Johnny Cash could still let you inside and see the darkness of the man," Ritch pointed out. "Johnny Cash was not just wearing black on the outside. There are parts of him that are black, and that same idea comes across on this album for us."
Even with "heart songs," Ritch issues a Surgeon General's warning of sorts. "This album here takes you on a harder, longer drive, right into a brick wall. Strap yourself in." Isn't that the best type of rock 'n' roll there is?
Speaking about specific songs on Peacemaker, he said that the visceral "'Damn You to Hell' is maybe the heaviest song we've written. It has such drive and intensity that it's like a mixed martial arts event, like UFC pay per view, like someone being grounded and pounded on." You may emerge feeling like you've been administered a beating, but as evidenced in Fight Club, you can come out the other side cleansed and stronger from the catharsis.
"Think Of Me" is admittedly "the closest thing to a love song that this band would ever do. It is a great song. It goes beyond those boundaries." Other songs that typify Red Dirt Metal include "8 Seconds" and "You Ain't Seen Me," which Ritch admits is "as southern-fried as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet."
The title song is a brilliantly written tune, told from the perspective of a gun. Ritch said, "I thought, 'What would that gun say to people?'" That's not something you come across every day in rock music, and it's further evidence of how Texas Hippie Coalition are rewriting the rule book. The song boasts the lyrics, "I just whooped the devil's ass / And you ain't seen nothing if Jesus asks / It wasn't nothing for him to see / This is all between God and me." See what we mean about the outlaw spirit? It's wholly present in every note, riff and lyric of Peacemaker.
Essentially, Peacemaker, which follows the previous albums The Pride of Texas and Rollin', is like one of those out-of-control parties that will find you without a girlfriend and with pissed off family members the very next day, but you'll be gawking over your killer new tattoo while nursing an awful hangover. It's the stuff of life, the good time ingredient that you can't manufacture or fake. It comes from a very real place, thanks to Texas Hippie Coalition's ability to understand their influences and mine them into something wholly unique.