It’s been just over a year since Danzig released its most recent (and perhaps final) album, Deth Red Sabaoth. As the years have dragged on Danzig releases have become some-what few and far between. Not including 2007’s The Lost Tracks of Danzig, there had not been a proper Danzig release since 2004’s Circle of Snakes. It probably comes as no surprise that six years is the longest gap between Danzig releases. Is it age, disinterest, the music industry, or something else that lead to such a long break period for the band? As with most things, it’s probably a combination of those and more that made Danzig fans wait six years for a new album, but thankfully, the wait was worth it.
It’s a rather poorly kept secret that Danzig albums have not been as consistent since the band’s departure from American Recordings. And for my money, one of the worst albums in that span was the previous album to DRS, Circle of Snakes. The production was muddy, the melodies and lyrical subject matter uninspired. Sure there was a track here and there that worked, but as a whole the album was a throw-away.
Deth Red Sabaoth returns Tommy Victor (Prong) on guitar and brings Johnny Kelly (Type O Negative, Seventh Void) in on drums. Bass duties were filled by Glenn Danzig himself (with former Samhain drummer Steve Zing handling bass duties for the touring band) along with drums for the track “Black Candy.” Danzig self-produced the album and went for a lo-fi sound with unmastered vocal tracks and an all analog approach (which, surprisingly, is making a bit of a comeback as the Foo Fighters recently did the same). The end result is perhaps the heaviest album Danzig has ever done. There’s really no “Sistinas” or “Blood and Tears” on this one as most of the tracks are thick and heavy.
The album’s opener, “Hammer of the Gods,” is a blistering track slightly reminiscient of “Am I Demon?” from the first album. The guitars have chop with dashes of pinch harmonics thrown in. The chorus has a nice melody, and a slow bridge in the middle helps to usher in a frenetic final act for the song. A good crowd pleaser and natural opener. The second track, “The Revengeful,” carries the momentum forward with an even more liberal use of pinch harmonics. The track has a nice, bouncy, groove to it with some classic Danzig cheese lyrics.
The first single of the album, “On A Wicked Night,” is one of the rare soft moments from the album. One of those throw-back start slow and pick up tracks, it’s pretty catchy though it is one place where the vocals could have used some re-mastering. It’s also repetitive, but the run time is short enough to keep it from becoming too monotonous. My personal favorite track on the album, “Deth Red Moon,” has more melody than most of the tracks and strikes a nice balance. The addition of a shaker on the chorus adds nice texture and it would have been a natural choice for a single as well.
Other standouts include the bluesy “Ju Ju Bone” and the ultra-heavy “Black Candy,” which is sure to rattle your dash board. The album’s closer, “Left Hand Rise Above,” is similar in structure to “Without Light, I Am” from Danzig 7, only without the extended outro. A great song for Glenn Danzig to really bellow and a good note to go out on.
The album is not without some low points though. The two-part “Pyre of Souls” drags on a bit as the same riff is used through-out the entire duration of the song. Not a bad track, but one where I’m always ready for it to end. “Night Star Hel” is heavy but without much melody, though the extended instrumental outro does redeem it some and would kill live. The low-fi production is both a strength and a hindrance. There are some tracks where I wish some touching up had been done. The guitar riffs are mostly solid, but Victor’s solos can be a chore at times. He opts for a frenetic style that can comes across as noodling. This shred approach sounds great on some tracks, but on others it doesn’t work as well and it would have served better to use some restraint. I consider this more a criticism of Glenn than Victor, since he makes the calls for how he wants the solos to sound.
If there’s another weakness of the album it’s that there isn’t a true all-time classic found on here. I really enjoy “Deth Red Moon” but it’s not a top 10 Danzig track, maybe not even a top 20. It’s an album that borders on greatness but never quite achieves it.
That said, Deth Red Sabaoth is finally that return to form so many fans had been longing for since Danzig 4. It’s a very enjoyable record and one no Danzig fan should miss. I picked this album up the day before its official release and it hasn’t left my car CD player since.
- Hammer of the Gods
- Deth Red Moon
- Left Hand Rise Above