Friday, October 30, 2009

Danzig

It's getting close to Halloween, and with Halloween comes a few traditions. First, I always watch at least the first Halloween movie on Mischief Night, over the past few years it has turned into a full on Halloween marathon consisting of as many movies in the series I can stay awake for. The second is, since college, I've gone to a show every October 31st. Two years ago it was World Inferno's Hallowmas, last year it was The Flaming Tsunamis/The Fad/Hostage Calm/My Heart To Joy/Coldsnap in Connecticut and this year I'm going to Hallowmas again. The third tradition is that I start listening to a lot of Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig. Nobody gets me pumped for Halloween quite like Glenn Danzig. So in the spirit of my favorite holiday this post is all about Danzig.
Glenn Danzig is a personal hero of mine. He's a run of the mill Jersey kid who made it big and all on his own terms. He also kept a variety in his career, never sticking to one sound for too long. His story starts in 1955 in Lodi, New Jersey. He grew up as an outsider, liking "dorky" things like comic books and b-movies. He formed the Misfits in 1977. They went thro
ugh many lineup changes, had a handful of releases and broke up in 1983. In 1984 he began work on his next project which would be called Samhain. The band released 2 LP's and 1 EP, then around 1987 morphed in the band Danzig. Danzig released its first album in 1988, and the band has continued ever since though Glenn Danzig is the only original member remaining. On top of these three bands, which account for the vast majority of his work, he has also released a solo 7", 1981's "Who Killed Marilyn" b/w "Spook City USA", had the song "You and Me(Less Than Zero)" appear on the Less Than Zero Soundtrack credited to Glenn Danzig & The Power and Fury Orchestra, though it's actually played by the everyone in the original lineup of Danzig except Eerie Von. He has also released two CD's of classical compositions called Black Aria and Black Aria II released in 1992 and 2006, respectively.

The Misfits
The Misfits formed in 1977. I'm not going to go into much of this history, because I'd have to name a ton of people who went in and out of that band over the 6 years they were together. I'm not going to go release by release either, because they put out a fair amount of 7"s that are so incredibly rare I doubt I'll ever own them and some of them are so rare I'll probably never even see one in real life. I'm instead going to talk about what's available on CD and what I know about them off the top of my head. In order to have as complete of a Misfits discography as you can you need 3 things: The Box Set, Static Age, and Walk Among Us.

The Box Set has almost everything in it. It is 4 discs and contains Collection, Collection 2, Evilive, Earth A.D., Legacy of Brutality, Static Age, and a disc of unreleased demos. It's a lot of music. It runs the gamut of the entire Misfits lifespan, from the very first 7" ("Cough Cool" b/w "She" which was never released in their original mixes before) through the 7"s, the Static Age Sessions, and their hardcore period when they released Earth A.D. It does not contain their final LP, Walk Among Us due to licensing issues but it does contain every song on that album found throughout the collections and the disc of unreleased demo sessions. This set was also the first time the Static Age sessions were ever released in their entirety. A lot of it had made its way onto 7"s and compilations like Collection and Legacy of Brutality, but some were still unreleased. It is my favorite Misfits material, however, you really need to get the reissue by itself.

Static Age is my favorite Misfits release. It was recorded during 1978, my personal favorite time period of the band, and contains some of my favorite Misfits songs, including "Bullet," "Angelfuck," "Hybrid Moments," and "Last Caress."
The CD reissue is necessary because it was remastered and expanded after its original release with the box set. Not only is the sound remarkably better but they give you 3 songs that were claimed to have been found since the release of the box set. Those songs are "She", "Spinal Remains" and "In The Doorway." The last track is studio outtakes, like an audio blooper reel from the recording sessions.

Last on the list is Walk Among Us, their final LP, released in 1982. One year earlier, the Misfits had dabbled in hardcore with Earth A.D. and
it was great. For this album they took that hardcore and mixed it with the classic Misfits sound for the most varied release of their career. It went from classics like "Skulls" and "Night of the Living Dead" to really heavy hardcore with "All Hell Breaks Loose" and the live version of "Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?" All of it is amazing and absolutely necessary for any Misfits fan.

Samhain
Samhain was Danzig's next band. They formed out of the ashes of the Misfits. Originally, the band featured Brian Baker and Lyle Preslar, formerly of Minor Threat. Neither of them remained in the band for very long, although Preslar's guitar can be heard on four tracks on the band's debut album, Initium ("Black Dream" "Macabre" "Horror Biz" and "The Shift). The band was a transitional band for Glenn Danzig. The sound was much darker than the Misfits, but not yet the outright blues/metal sound he would perfect once changing the band's name to Danzig in 1988.

Samhain released Initium in 1984, Unholy Passion in 1985, November Coming Fire in 1986, and Final Descent, a posthumous collection of unreleased material, in 1990. All of this can be found in the Samhain Box Set, along with a live CD f
eaturing 2 shows, one from 1985 and another from 1986. The box set also contains a VHS (it's never been updated from VHS to DVD) of a few live shows which were heavily bootlegged, and a reprint of a Samhain comic book.

Samhain is an interesting period of Glenn Danzig's career. It usually goes overlooked and is his least celebrated work. Don't let that fool you though, the music is great. It's got the horror-themed lyrics you loved in the Misfits but the music is much darker and heavier. They also reworked a few Misfits classics ("Horror Business" "All Hell Breaks Loose" and "Halloween II").

Danzig
In 1988, Glenn Danzig changed Samhain's name to Danzig when they signed on to Rick Rubin's Def American label. The band now featured Glenn Danzig on vocals, Eerie Von on bass, John Christ on guitar, and the legendary Chuck Biscuits on drums. There was also a distinct shift in style. The band now played bluesy riff-based metal. Danzig are still playing together and occasionally release albums, however this original band only lasted through 1994. In that time Danzig released four amazing albums, Danzig in 1988, Danzig II: Lucifuge in 1990, Danzig III: How The Gods Kill in 1992, and Danzig IV in 1994. All four of those albums are great, though the first two are really essential. Those two albums were landmark albums in Glenn Danzig's career and in what was happening in metal at the time. The metal genre mostly consisted of thrash bands at the time, and the stoner metal scene was just beginning, but not many bands were bringing it back to the basics and just focusing on a good, heavy, and bluesy guitar riff.



All of this music is great year-round, but every October when I start getting psyched on Halloween I start listening to copious amounts of Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig.

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