The fifth LP from Danzig was a unique one, and to this day a lot of the elements introduced on it have never been heard from again. It also represented a lot of firsts for the band. It was the first Danzig album to appear on a label other than Rick Rubin’s American Recordings. It was also the first without the band members that had appeared on all four full-length albums previous; Eerie Von, John Christ, and Chuck Biscuits. For Von, this was the first non Misfits album to feature a bassist other than he. Outside of the soundtrack only “You and Me (Less Than Zero),” every Samhain and Danzig recording had featured Von on bass (years later, Glenn would state he or John Christ recorded a lot of bass tracks for prior albums). And really, other than himself, Glenn had only worked with two bassists up to this point, the other being Misfits veteran Jerry Only. John Christ was dismissed following the 4p tour, and Biscuits before that. Replacement Joey Castillo would handle most of the drum duties for Danzig 5 (where an electronic beat wasn’t employed) and bassist Josh Lazie was brought on board. The album did not feature a permanent guitar player, but Alice in Chains axe-man Jerry Cantrell was featured on a couple of tracks.
Blackacidevil (pronounced black acid devil) is the first and only full-length release for Danzig on Hollywood Records. As I mentioned in my Danzig over view entry, Hollywood’s parent company, Disney, would object to featuring a band such as Danzig on their label and the agreement was terminated shortly after the release of Danzig 5. This resulted in a low press run of the first edition of the album and the PR for it came to an abrupt halt. Not that a longer one would have made much of a difference as Blackacidevil was not received well by music critics and fans alike.
Blackacidevil represents Glenn Danzig’s greatest risk and greatest failure. Under the security of a brand new record agreement and without the influence of a big name producer, Glenn was free to approach his fifth studio album however he wanted. Choosing to go industrial, he produced an uneven album with almost all of the elements of his previous albums absent. The lyrics are almost hyper-sexualized, borrowing thematically from Glenn’s comic book line, “Verotik.” Some of the songs, like the title track, feature heavy repetition creating a mad-man like state as if the song could have been constructed by a serial killer. Songs like the opener “7th House,” are relentless in their melody-abandoned approach. In that specific example, think 4p’s opener “Brand New God” but with an even simpler structure and heavy vocal distortion.
The song structures for the most part are very basic in their approach, harkening back to the debut album. The coat of electronic production and vocal distortion disguise the simple song structures and give the album an easy scapegoat. Even without the distortion, this album likely would have been poorly received. Glenn has stated he viewed Danzig 5 as a continuation of Samhain, or where he thought Samhain was heading. I found that to be a cop-out, or a piece of revisionist history. I’ll concede that the first two Danzig records interrupted the natural Samhain progression, but How the Gods Kill and 4p were a logical continuation. Danzig 5 just represents where Glenn’s head was at the time and the current climate of both popular music and the band’s state made the time right for experimentation.
I commend Glenn for being an artist who does what he wants, when he wants. He doesn’t generally make music for a label (though Rubin and American Recordings obviously had some say) or for his fans, and he shouldn’t. And while I generally am not a fan of Blackacidevil, it isn’t all bad. For the most part, the vocal distortion just does not suit Glenn’s voice. It gives him a higher tone that’s borderline screeching. The electronic beats just don’t do it for me, and really, the industrial genre is not one I’m particularly fond of. This album just wasn’t made for me.
Where the album does shine is with certain tracks. The one most often cited as being the hidden gem is the bluesy “Come to Silver.” Originally intended to be a Johnny Cash song, it’s a distorted, slow tempo track that features some excellent guitar work by Cantrell. Here the vocal distortion adds a chilling touch to the song which suits its lyrics. Years later an undistorted, acoustic version would be released that fails to match the original’s atmosphere. The original album closer, “Ashes,” is another chilling track that paints a bleak and desperate picture. The vocals are clean and feature a falsetto delivery at times by Glenn. He once described it as similar to 4p’s closer “Let it be Captured,” but darker and a song that never truly climaxes.
“Sacrifice” was the album’s lead single. It’s not a unique track, as its drum track is basically a sped-up version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” but it strikes a nice balance between metal and industrial. “See All You Were” is a track I enjoy, but I wish I could hear a non-distorted vocal track. I’m convinced there’s a great vocal performance buried under all the muck.
Other than those 4 tracks, the rest are throw-aways for me. Some of them, such as “Serpentia,” are what I consider the worst tracks Glenn Danzig has ever recorded. In 2000, Glenn’s then current label E-Magine would re-release Blackacidevil with new cover artwork by Martin Emond and three additional tracks. The added tracks offered little, though the re-mix of “Deep” is okay and probably superior to the original. For fans of industrial, I suspect this album leaves something to be desired and for fans of Danzig most will find little to enjoy. This is the album that, for better or worse, changed everything for Danzig. After this, the large venue shows all but dried up and Danzig was returned to the underground from whence it came. There were no more 9 figure record deals or Top 100 singles and the albums that followed would best be classified as uneven. I’m not sure what Glenn’s attitude towards this album is today. For years, he insisted it was misunderstood and one of his favorite releases. Following 2000 though, Danzig 5’s influence on future live set lists was all but erased. When the band Danzig celebrated its 20th anniversary by playing a chronological set list, Danzig 5 was curiously skipped over. That is likely the closest thing to an admission of failure we are likely to receive from Glenn Danzig.
- Come to Silver
March 13th, 2018 at 11:00 pm
[…] 21. 5: Blackacidevil – Danzig (1996) […]
September 10th, 2021 at 11:06 am
[…] Back in 1996, that was a rarity. Vinyl was all but dead and most new releases ignored it. For the band Danzig, it was an era of new beginnings. The band’s founder and namesake, Glenn Danzig, had served out his recording obligations to American Recordings, the first major label he had worked for. The first four Danzig albums, plus one EP, had done well, though not exceptionally so. The band wasn’t that far removed though from it’s first of two top 100 hits, “Mother,” so there was some appetite for the band’s services. Hollywood Records came calling and offered Glenn Danzig what was reported as a 9 figure deal to join the label. Danzig took the money and promptly replaced every member of the band that had played on the most recent record and produced the band’s fifth studio album Blackacidevil. […]