By the time June of 2002 rolled around the world was ready for some relevant Danzig once again. Well, maybe most of the world didn’t much care, but I certainly was. After two disappointing studio albums and a mostly bad live album, Danzig needed to make a statement. For better or worse, that statement would come in the form of Danzig 777: I Luciferi.
I Luciferi was released on Glenn’s evilive label through Spitfire Records and would be the band’s only release with the Spitfire logo. The band thought it had a new long-term relationship with label E-Magine Music but Danzig ended up being that label’s biggest acquisition, and as much as I love Danzig, it can’t carry a label. By the time I Luciferi hit stores it had been just about 2 and a half years since Satan’s Child was released to mostly negative reviews. The band had a decent showing on the road due in part to the inclusion of a Samhain set and fans had also been treated to several other releases including a Samhain Box Set and re-issues of Danzig 5 and Black Aria. Danzig suddenly was a very busy band and even though it had been over 2 years since the last studio effort it sure didn’t feel that long.
The lineup for Danzig 7 was the same as the touring band for Danzig 6 and included guitarist Todd Youth, bassist Howie Pyro, and drummer Joey Castillo. For all three this would be the last Danzig album they’d play on. Pyro and Youth would go off to try to make a name for themselves elsewhere while Castillo was offered the drummer position with the much higher profile Queens of the Stone Age. For the most part, all three go out on a relative high note and have nothing to be embarrassed by. Like most of the modern Danzig releases, there aren’t a ton of guitar solos for Youth to show off on but what’s there is played capably. Castillo continues to be the stand out for the group and Pyro’s bass actually has a presence here, which is not often the case with Danzig albums.
Stylistically, Danzig 7 could be called more of the same. It’s a little louder and more varied than Danzig 6 but with less of an industrial presence. Where Danzig 6 stuck mostly to power chords and low notes, Danzig 7 brings back the old pinch harmonics the band was known for and some more traditional Danzig-style guitar riffs. Some of the songs are tried and true Danzig, such as the moody “Black Mass” and powerful outro “Without Light, I Am.” There are also some new sounds though like the destructive “Coldest Sun” or Gary Glitter inspired “Kiss the Skull.”
That’s not to say it’s all good. “Black Mass” is a fantastic opener (following the instrumental “Unendlich”) but “Wicked Pussycat” tries its best to derail any momentum gained. Glenn’s vocals are clear and pristine on “Black Mass,” but “Pussycat” brings back that hoarse delivery fans seemed to dislike on Danzig 6. That and the song’s subject matter is about as silly as the title suggests and Danzig’s “rapping” on the chorus caused many to double-take. Talk to a Danzig die hard today and many will try to tell you he isn’t rapping, but consider me unconvinced.
“God of Light” follows and can best be described as nu-metal sludge. It took a long time for me to come to grips with that, but it’s true. The song is melodically offensive and one of the worst Danzig songs ever recorded. “Liberskull” begins the album’s long, winding road to recovery. The main riff is a bit too bouncy for my taste, but the chorus and build up to it is well executed and quite pleasing.
From there the album is a bit uneven. Songs like “Dead Inside” and the title track show promise but ultimately fail to deliver on it. It’s towards the back end of the album where things pick up. “Angel Blake” represents perhaps Glenn’s first classic horror tale since his days with The Misfits and proves quite pleasant, if a bit simple. “The Coldest Sun” combines a dreary and kind of odd verse with one of Glenn’s catchiest choruses of all time. His vocals are quite strong here, as they are on the closer “Without Light, I AM,” which strikes me as a kind of darker version of 4p’s “Let it be Captured.”
The musicianship is adequate, and while this isn’t the best collection of songs Glenn Danzig has put together it’s certainly quite listenable. What most fans were really concerned with heading into this album was Glenn’s voice. I Luciferi eased a lot of concerns amongst the Danzig faithful. While most seemed satisfied with the vocals during the Satan’s Child tour, the following live album Live on the Black Hand Side caused people to question if what they heard on the road really was any good. Live on the Black Hand Side contained two discs, one from the band’s glory days from ’92-’94 and a second disc with material from the Satan’s Child tour. Disc 2 is practically unlistenable. Some of that is likely due to the band skimping on good tech for a quality recording, but Glenn’s vocals just aren’t very good. From the opening line of “Black Mass” though people were breathing a sigh of relief. Danzig’s classic croon was back, and even though virtually no other song on the album sounds like “Black Mass” there are plenty of other stand-out moments.
The production is a little bit of a mixed bag. While it’s no where near as bad as some of the future releases would present, it’s not quite on par with Satan’s Child. Love it or hate it, the whisper backing track is still used on some songs but for the most part there’s little or no vocal distortion this time around. While some people still want to call Danzig 6 an industrial metal album, Danzig 7 is pretty much a straight-up metal album with a modern sound. The guitars are still tuned low (C once again) but there’s actual attempts made at crafting lead riffs this time around. The quality of Castillo’s drumming, as I mentioned earlier, is quite good but the production on them is spotty at best. On some songs it sounds like he’s drumming in your living room, on others it sounds too hollow and distant. There’s a nice drum solo at the end of “Naked Witch” that could have sounded much better if given a full sound. Mostly the album is lacking in those warm, full tones which is either a production short-coming or a stylistic choice.
As for some technical notes on the release, it was released in 2002 on CD only and came in a blood-red jewel case. The booklet contains photos of the band posturing with porn star Devon and looking mostly ridiculous. Danzig has these big rubber gloves that make me think of comic book villain/hero Venom and he would sport them on tour. Not all of the lyrics are printed in the booklet, a trend started by this release that would annoy most fans. A vinyl version of the album was released in 2010 in Italy on Night of the Vinyl Dead Records. Not much is known on how this came to be, presumably the distributor approached Spitfire about wanting to do it and they came to an agreement because the release wasn’t approved by Glenn (or he at least claimed to not know anything about it). While it’s not technically a bootleg, it wasn’t endorsed by Glenn though I hear he has no qualms about signing it should you own a copy and wish to have him put his signature on it. Release wise, it’s solid. The booklet is nice and large and the record has an attractive inner sleeve. The outer sleeve is the same as the CD artwork (which, admittedly, is pretty shitty though I kind of like the waxy new cross logo) and there’s also a skull lithograph included. I assume the image is the artist’s interpretation of the classic Danzig logo. This edition is limited to 500 copies.
Ultimately, Danzig 777: I Luciferi is a bit of an uneven release and isn’t going to make anyone forget about the band’s peak in the 1990’s. It was the best album from Danzig since 1994’s 4p, and while it wasn’t a return to the classic sound, it was a return to respectability. For a long time after this one was released I listened to it daily. It was the album of my summer that year and I was never shy to bust it out when someone would ask me if Danzig was still around. Some of the songs are among my favorite, and for me this is probably a top 5 Danzig release and a job well done.
- Black Mass
- The Coldest Sun
- Without Light, I Am