The Ultimate Danzig Song Ranking – Part II

images-240Two days ago we covered the first 40 songs of this countdown. In the span of those 40 songs we mostly covered the truly bad, the less bad, and the mediocre. We’re now into the songs that I think are objectively good, or at least solid, which bodes well since we still have 89 songs to go! If you’re just hopping in and want an explanation for how I arrived at these songs, check out part one, because away we go:

89. Satan’s Child (Satan’s Child) – Our final entry in part 1 was for the song “Unspeakable,” also off of Satan’s Child. This song is practically the same. Very sparse verse with an equally simple chorus that’s stretched out by elongating a syllable or two. They’re so similar it must be why they were pretty far apart on the album. The only real difference for “Satan’s Child” is it has a bridging pre-chorus, the “Turn it up/Turn it loose” part. They’re both effective tracks, I just prefer this one slightly more.

88. But a Nightmare (Black Laden Crown) – “But a Nightmare” relies on a groove to drive it along. Very 70s sounding, it doesn’t attempt to do too much, but what it does it does well. It picks up in intensity as it moves along, and it’s just a solid head-banger.

87. Malefical (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – Another big bottom-end song that ended up on the Last Tracks compilation. “Malefical” started off as “Malefical Bride of Hell” and it doesn’t sound like the song changed much with the name change as the song is essentially about a malefical (sic) bride of Hell. It’s slow, but thunderous, and quite evil sounding. The type of song Glenn has written more than once, but always seems to work on some level.

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Danzig with one of the stars of the “She Rides” video.

86. She Rides (Danzig) – The album that inspired this ranking makes its debut in part II. “She Rides” is possibly most famous for its lurid music video that MTV wouldn’t air. I also hear it’s rather popular in strip clubs. It has a nice groove to it, and while the lyrics are perhaps cartoonishly sexy, they mostly work. It just drags on a little too long and overstays its welcome and might be too on the nose in its approach, but it’s mostly a nice little break on the first album since its tempo is noticeably more deliberate than the other songs on the album.

85. Naked Witch (I Luciferi) – Thematically similar to our last entry, “Naked Witch” is a bit of a jam track only held back by some iffy production, in particular the vocals. It rolls along with nice intensity and drummer Joey Castillo is unleashed in a nice showcase. Really, with better production on the vocals and maybe better lyrics on the outro, this one would leap several spots on this ranking.

84. Pyre of Souls (Deth Red Sabaoth) – If the two halves of “Pyre of Souls” are considered one song, then it’s the longest Danzig song recorded. It basically relies on a  simple melody that is repeated throughout. In part one, that melody is played on an acoustic guitar with some piano flourishes. Part two switches those instruments out for the traditional electric guitar/bass combo while Danzig bellows out his vocals from the back of a flying demon. At least, that’s how I picture him in my head with fire flaring all about. It’s another good groove track that probably didn’t need to be as long as it is, but it mostly works.

83. Lilin (Satan’s Child) – Apparently we’re in the part of the list of slow, brooding, groove tracks because we have another here in “Lilin.” This one separates itself by being more of an industrial rock track, one of the more overtly so from Satan’s Child. It’s another long track too, by Danzig standards, and might also have the best lyrics of any song from this album as they’re very descriptive and work well to conjure an image in one’s mind. Yes, it’s about another sexy snake girl, though with a tragic spin as there’s a slight hint of sorrow in Danzig’s vocals. It’s enough to vault this one up a few pegs, and the chorus is really catchy.

82. Lick the Blood Off My Hands (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – I’m still unclear if this is a Danzig 5 holdover or a Danzig 6 one, either way it probably should have been included on the album it was recorded for. This song is, stop me if you’ve heard me say this before, another groove track that rests in a slow to mid-tempo range. It doesn’t boast much variety, but it works with what it does. I can’t decide if the song should have featured a true crescendo towards the end or if it was better to resist and keep it in its lane.

81. Blackness Falls (Black Laden Crown) – A lot of Black Laden Crown offers solid structuring without much reliance on hooks or even a chorus. “Blackness Falls” is no different in that regard, but it follows the script a bit better than some of the other songs on the album and it has a nice punch to it.

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Johnny Cash was the first to record the song “Thirteen,” even though it was written by Glenn.

80. Thirteen (Satan’s Child) – The only song written and performed by Danzig that was first recorded and released by someone else. That someone being Johnny Cash for his album American Recordings. For his version, Danzig restored a verse Cash omitted and added some atmospheric elements which creates an image of a sullen vagabond roaming through a desert or something. There’s a lot of wind effects which makes me think of dryness, but maybe it was supposed to create a cooling feeling. Director of The Hangover Todd Phillips must agree with me since he used the song over a desert montage to open that film. The song’s placement there lead to a minor renaissance for it and Danzig started playing it live, which was pretty cool. It may have also lead to it being a little overrated since that was the most exposure a Danzig song has received since “Mother.”

79. Girl (Lucifuge) – Maybe the best example of filler from Danzig II, “Girl” is more or less a straight up rock track. It’s trying to be sexual in the same manner as “She Rides,” though its probably less successful. It’s catchier though, but I wish it had more of a chorus as Danzig kind of just wails like he didn’t know what to do. A filler track for Lucifuge is still a pretty good track though.

78. Five Finger Crawl (Satan’s Child) – We’re almost out of tracks from this album, but this one was the lead-off hitter, so to speak. There’s some slight distortion on the vocals, and the omnipresent whisper track is utilized, but it all builds to an excellent outro where Glenn’s vocals are freed from all of that. I kind of wish more of the album sounded like this one, or at least the last 30 seconds of it, but beggar’s can’t be choosers.

77. The Mandrake’s Cry (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – This one is a bit an odd duck as the subject matter, a mandrake, doesn’t strike me as Danzig material. It feels more like Harry Potter, though since this was recorded for Danzig IV I think we can rule out any influence there (plus I very much doubt Danzig partakes in that franchise). It’s a fun little track, and for awhile it was one of my favorites from disc one of this collection. I think I got a little sick of it, but it gets my head bobbing every time I revisit it. It’s also another track that may have necessitated some new vocals before release as Glenn sounds more like 2007 Glenn than 1994 Glenn.

76. The Violet Fire (Thrall-Demonsweatlive) – One of two original tracks from the Thrall EP, I also waver between which of the two I prefer. They’re both kind of quick and dirty songs that probably didn’t spend much time in the cooker. They both work though, and “The Violet Fire” separates itself from its album-mate by having a slower tempo in which Glenn practically purrs his vocals throughout the verse. There’s some nice drum work in the end by Chuck Biscuits which brings the whole thing home.

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A still from the “Black Hell” video that closes out The Legacy TV Taping.

75. Black Hell (The Hangover II Motion Picture Soundtrack) – The only song from a movie soundtrack to appear on our list, “Black Hell” has yet to have an opportunity to jump to a proper Danzig release. It did get a music video as part of The Legacy TV Taping which was trapped on Vimeo, but is now unavailable (I think). It’s similar to “Thirteen” in that it seems to be channelling some Johnny Cash imagery, but it’s a more fully fleshed-out Danzig tune. I wish I could say the rest of the soundtrack was good, but if you’re a Danzig fan I guess it won’t matter. It’s also probably pretty cheap at this point if you’re looking for used copies.

74. Cold Eternal (Satan’s Child) – The last song from Satan’s Child to appear in our list, giving that album a bit of a dubious honor as its the first to be completed. This also means it’s the best song from that album. It’s probably the most unique as it’s very slow, somewhat sorrowful, and features an abundant use of slide guitar. Session guitarist Jeff Chambers apparently used a ginseng bottle to achieve the effect, and it sounds pretty neat as it’s slightly unpleasant which adds to the song’s mood. A solid, though perhaps understated, vocal performance rounds things out. It’s a song that never explodes, and it doesn’t need to.

73. Until You Call on the Dark (Danzig IV) – Another Danzig song, another music video rejected by MTV. This one is notable since it came after “Mother,” and the video wasn’t all that bad. I think it did end up getting shown a few times, but not as much as “Cantspeak” or “I Don’t Mind the Pain.” This is a slow jam with a nice guitar lick. Glenn keeps in time with the drum pattern and the chorus features a simple, but catchy, guitar riff as well. If on a lesser album, it might have stood out more, but on Danzig IV it ends up being one of the lesser tracks.

72. Skulls & Daisies (Black Laden Crown) – Danzig conjures up the mystique of an old story-teller on this one, recounting some tale about a girl picking skulls and daisies. Like a lot of Danzig lyrics, it’s probably inspired by some old folktale or B-movie, but I’m not certain of where it comes from. This is a song that manages to be catchy without having a chorus. It’s reminiscent of “Ju Ju Bone,” though that song is able to place higher because it actually does feature a chorus. Nonetheless, this song was frequently cited by fans as being one of the standout tracks from the most recent Danzig release.

71. Skull Forest (Circle of Snakes) – This haunting little tune from Circle of Snakes was supposedly inspired by a dream Glenn had in which he saw his father’s head imbedded in a tree. Pretty creepy, but perhaps tame compared to his other dreams? This one has Glenn almost talking over the verse rather than singing, but it builds into a trademarked wailing Danzig chorus. Simple and effective.

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Most fans were introduced to “When Death Had No Name” via the band’s home video.

70. When Death Had No Name (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – Originally released on the first Danzig home video, the song was properly released as a B-Side to “Dirty Black Summer” in 92, albeit a different version. Both versions were included on The Lost Tracks of Danzig and of the two I would say the 1992 version is superior. It’s slightly slower, but more methodic. It leans heavy on its main riff for much of the song’s duration before things pick up towards the end. Perhaps a little too long, it’s still a really cool track with some biblical imagery with a neat story to it.

69. Pain in the World (Lucifuge) – This is a song I’ve always wanted to like more than I do. It’s the closing track on Danzig II, and it’s meant to be an epic track with a similar style to “When Death Had No Name.” It’s just never quite clicked for me, and maybe it’s because I think it’s better than it is I’m ranking it this high. As someone who enjoys long compositions, I find myself losing interest in this one about halfway through. It might just a be a case of this being the most overtly Black Sabbath-like of all of the tracks on Lucifuge, when the rest of the album really didn’t sound like a Sabbath inspired release. Maybe it should have been flipped with the closer to How the Gods Kill, the more bluesy “When the Dying Calls,” and it would have felt more at home. Or maybe it’s just a failing in my own personal taste.

68. It’s Coming Down (Thrall-Demonsweatlive) – The other original track from the Thrall EP, “It’s Coming Down” is the more popular of the two because it’s been played live during many tours and also received a rather infamous music video (don’t watch it if you can’t stomach genital mutilation). This one is more up-tempo than “The Violet Fire,” making it a more natural setlist inclusion. It comes in, blows off the doors, and exits fairly quickly before you can get tired of the formula. A quick and dirty piece of early 90s metal.

67. Black Laden Crown (Black Laden Crown) – The title track from what is currently the last Danzig album, “Black Laden Crown” is one part album opener and one part bitching metal track. The first half of the song has a sort of black mass kind of vibe to it (not to be confused with the song of the same name), while the second half is an instrumental head-banger. I love the mood it sets for the album, but I’m not sure the rest of it lives up to the beginning. I also wish there was some sort of vocal pay-off during that last part. Even with the flaws, I think it would have made for an interesting way to start the live shows on that tour, as opposed to sticking with “Skin Carver.”

66. Angel Blake (I Luciferi) – Thematically, this one is a throwback to The Misfits days of song-writing for Glenn as its origins are in some campy movie. Musically it’s not at all like a Misfits track, and even by Danzig standards, it’s fairly unique. There’s a clean guitar tone used on most of it with Glenn’s voice doubled or tripled-up on. It has that ethereal quality I mentioned on “Firemass” because of its lighter tone. The chorus brings in a crunchy bottom-end though, so this one does pack a punch. The recorder solo might also be a first for Danzig.

65. End of Time (Danzig) – This is probably the softest track from the debut album, though the subject matter is hardly fluffy. “End of Time” is about a damned individual and it starts off as a fairly straight-forward rock track which brings in this sweet sounding lyrical bridge before a thunderous chorus. It’s perfectly paced, and in the right spot on the album too. I suppose it would be considered album “filler,” and if so it’s certainly a quality filler track.

R-562567-1131857556.jpeg64. Dirty Black Summer (How the Gods Kill) – This one was probably the first single to get any sort of consistent airplay on MTV. It was hardly a hit, but if you tuned into Headbanger’s Ball around release you probably saw it. It features what I would call a typical Danzig riff, but it dresses it up enough to form something catchy. Glenn does this odd vocal hiccup in between lines during the chorus, which definitely is a unique touch for the song. I know a few who find this one a bit annoying as it might be the most commercial sounding song Glenn has ever released, but I’ve always found it rather catchy.

63. Pull the Sun (Black Laden Crown) – The closing track from Black Laden Crown follows the same general format as a lot of Danzig closers. It’s a slow to mid tempo track with a wailing chorus, though the chorus isn’t leaned on as heavily as it is with “Left Hand Rise Above” or “Without Light, I Am.” The novelty of this song structure has some-what worn off as a result, which is why this one is ranked behind those two tracks. It’s a great song on its own though that is perhaps just missing one special, hard to pin down, ingredient to make it truly exceptional which is how I feel about a lot of the material from this album.

62. Satan’s Crucifiction (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – This one is essentially a joke song, but it’s so heavy and so evil that it actually works. This song is all about the bottom end and it’s particularly brutal. And I think knowing the lyrics were intended as a joke makes them work better than if they seemed sincere. Truly, they’re not all that much more campy than some of the “real” songs Danzig has put out. And in case you need a refresher, this one was recorded after the success of “Mother” when the label requested the new album not be “Satanic.” Supposedly, the joke had the desired effect.

61. Rebel Spirits (Deth Red Sabaoth) – One of the more understated songs from Deth Red Sabaoth, “Rebel Spirits” settles into that mid-tempo groove we know so well but it kicks things up with the chorus. The vocal production could have been better, but it’s not as bad as other Danzig songs out there. It has this apocalyptic quality to the drumming compliments of Johnny Kelly and the subject matter is very appropriate for Danzig.

60. I Luciferi (I Luciferi) – This is one of Danzig’s shortest songs, but it does all that it needs to in its brief runtime. “I Luciferi” takes a fun guitar riff and dresses it up with cartoonishly Satanic imagery that morphs into a hard-hitting chorus complete with a nice, dense, crunchy, guitar riff. I’ve always enjoyed this rockin’ little number and it makes for a good title track.

59. Possession (Danzig) – Originally recorded with Samhain, “Possession” might be known more for featuring guest backing vocals by Metallica’s James Hetfield. The version from Danzig is much better than what was included in the Samhain Box Set. It has that simple blues-rock base to it featured prominently on the debut album with a rolling, thunderous chorus. The subject matter may border on misogyny, but it’s more of a power fantasy than anything. It definitely was more effective at captivating me as a teenager than as an adult.

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The video for “Crawl Across Your Killing Floor” featured a rather interesting concept, but the execution was pretty lackluster.

58. Crawl Across Your Killing Floor (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – Guitarist Todd Youth dazzles on this piece of atmospheric, vagabond, music. It’s the best song to come out of the Danzig 6 sessions, and yet I kind of understand why it was left off the album. It doesn’t fit well with the rest of the album. I suppose they could have bumped “Thirteen” for it and it would have made for a similar closer, but at least it finally saw the light of day with The Lost Tracks of Danzig.

57. Liberskull (I Luciferi) – Another kind of “off its era” cut from I Luciferi, “Liberskull” relies on a “Korn” riff to hum along and leans heavy on its catchy chorus. The chorus is similar in structure to “Satan’s Child” in that it relies on a long wail, but it’s arguably what Glenn Danzig does best. The very nu-metal sound to this one used to lead to me referring to it as a guilty pleasure, but now I feel I’ve grown beyond such silly notions and it’s just a song I like.

56. The Revengeful (Deth Red Sabaoth) – Pinch harmonics city! If you dislike Danzig’s reliance on that guitar technique, then “The Revengeful” might grate on you a bit. I have neither a strong dislike nor a particular fondness for them, and “The Revengeful” straddles the line of practical taste. It’s a good fist-pumper that really helps sustain the momentum of Deth Red Sabaoth following the rocking opener “Hammer of the Gods.” It was also the B-Side to the album’s first single though surprisingly it never became a concert staple where it feels like a role it was born to play.

55. NetherBound (Circle of Snakes) – “NetherBound” is often cited as a favorite from Circle of Snakes. It has a somber tone and enjoys existing in the mid-tempo range. It’s very simple with a dry production sound that gives it an older texture, which fits the song’s mood. The melody is pleasant, and Danzig’s vocals are almost sweet sounding, a good penultimate track for the album.

54. Stalker Song (Danzig IV) – One of Danzig’s creepier songs, the title basically lets you know what it’s about. Glenn lets his vocals take center stage, something it feels he was more willing to do during this era of the band, and it’s what helps carry the song. It’s fairly simple in its execution, but those Danzig wails that sustain the closing moments are what puts it all together. I liked this song more as a teen when the subject matter felt more risqué, but as an adult I still start belting out the lines with Glenn when I’m driving in my car (alone).

53. When the Dying Calls (How the Gods Kill) – A little southern sludge closes out Danzig’s third album, and if it weren’t for the inconsistent production, it possibly could have rated higher. Danzig’s vocals have an almost R&B flow to them throughout the verse that gives the song a very playful quality and it courses along to a big finish. It’s during that big finish where the vocal production sounds off, as if Danzig is going louder than the master intended. I suppose it’s not surprising this album had some issues in that department since it was the first Rick Rubin supposedly had little involvement with. It’s a minor thing though as the song still rocks.

52. Black Candy (Deth Red Sabaoth) – The title may seem off-putting and silly, but this is one heavy-ass track. Glenn handles the drumming, and it’s like he had something to prove. It’s not a complex drum pattern utilized, but it is loud and powerful. He really beats the Hell out of the skins and relies a lot on the double bass and it’s what gives the song its character. Danzig’s voice is able to keep up with it too and manages to not get drowned out. Glenn must have really admired Chuck Biscuits when he was with the band as his style is a little similar with a no fills approach. The rest of the song is appropriately dense and this one is almost a sonic overload which makes up for its lack of true hooks.

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A band shot from the video for “Dirty Black Summer” during the How the Gods Kill era.

51. Do You Wear the Mark? (How the Gods Kill) – Almost a straight rip-off of Sabbath’s “Into the Void,” “Do You Wear the Mark?” at least does well by that old riff in crafting another dangerously dark Danzig tune. It’s so blatant though which is why I’ve never had much sympathy for Glenn anytime he mentions someone ripping him off (most notably Stone Temple Pilots). This one has always worked really well as a concert song, and the finish is great. I don’t know why, but I love the inclusion of the word “darling” amongst the song title’s question. Maybe because it subconsciously reminds me of “Die, Die, My Darling” or maybe because it just works. I’ll always associate this song with my first Danzig show in 2000 when an old guy probably in his sixties strutted into the show late. Wearing his white hair in a ponytail and clad in a beaten up leather jacket, he stood stoically as the band went through its set. When this song hit though that man opened up and just started going off. I hope he’s still rocking out to Danzig somewhere.

50. Not of this World (Danzig) – One of the band’s old concert staples that usually closed out shows, this one is the second track off the band’s debut album and it still kicks a lot of ass today. The production on the studio version is almost a bit too simple and bare bones. It has its tempo and it works well with it, but live the band plays it faster and that’s where it really comes alive. If they could have captured that intensity for the studio it probably would have vaulted the song higher, but it’s still a great track no matter how you experience it.

 

We’re going to cut this one off here. We’ve got 49 songs left to get through and I anticipate that being split into two parts. Check back tomorrow for Part III as we continue our sonic exploration of every Danzig song ever.


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