The Ultimate Danzig Song Ranking – Part III

danzigWe’ve covered 80 songs by the band Danzig, but still have 49 to go! We’re well past the poor and mediocre and now well into the best songs the band ever recorded. The rankings already have become quite a chore as some of these songs are hard to separate from others, but it must be done!

49. I’m The One (Lucifuge) – Danzig’s ode to classic blues, “I’m The One” is basically just Glenn Danzig singing and John Christ playing an acoustic guitar while Glenn rattles off lyrics about being evil. It’s pure cheese, but the band takes it seriously and is able to pull it off (as long as you’re not watching the video to it in which Glenn wrestles what looks to be a heavily sedated alligator). It’s very different to the rest of the band’s catalogue so it might be a little polarizing, though I think the majority of fans enjoy it.

48. Warlok (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – Another holdover from Blackacidevil that’s a lot better than most of the material on the album. It’s possible it was left off because the main riff is basically a fuzzy version of the “Mother” riff, though Glenn says the engineer he was working with at the time just couldn’t get the song to where he needed it. It’s pretty simple, but catchy and I enjoy the cadence Danzig utilizes for the verse. It’s not similar to his other songs in that respect.

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On a wicked night everything is red.

47. On A Wicked Night (Deth Red Sabaoth) – The lead single from 2010’s Deth Red Sabaoth, “On A Wicked Night” was frequently dedicated to former Type O Negative vocalist Peter Steele at live shows (Danzig’s drummer, Johnny Kelly, was the drummer for that band) who passed away shortly before the album came out. It’s a slow one that picks up in intensity and has a big, loud, outro. It’s a frequently used formula, but one that seems to always work. The only negative about this track is the inconsistent production. The vocals sound great on the quiet parts, but when the song gets loud they get drowned out some. The song also almost overstays its welcome, since it doesn’t really have much of a chorus outside of the song’s title, but it knows when to call it quits.

46. Angel of the 7th Dawn (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – Lucifuge is often cited as Danzig’s best album, so suggesting a change to that song’s tracklist feels like sacrilege, but “Angel of the 7th Dawn” has a good case. Even though I’m ranking it ahead of “I’m The One,” I wouldn’t bump that song for it since that track is pretty unique and has its own flavor. This one also isn’t a natural closing track, so I don’t know that I’d knock “Pain in the World” off for it either, but I’d happily give “777” the boot. This one is another rock track with a blues undercurrent, like much of the material from that album. It has a fun little story to it with enough, subtle, hooks. It’s somewhat similar structurally to “Killer Wolf,” so maybe that’s why it was left off. Even though it didn’t make the final album, the title of the song did get to live on as the name of the official fan club for the band, so at least it has that.

45. Last Ride (Black Laden Crown) – The last track we’re going to cover from Black Laden Crown is “Last Ride.” The most recent, and possibly last, album from Danzig managed to sneak a track into the top 50 which is pretty good. If Danzig wants to continue making more original music (there is another covers album of all Elvis songs ready to go) then I think “Last Ride” offers a pretty interesting path for the band. It’s a slow, atmospheric track that feels like it could have been a Johnny Cash song. It’s a voice that fits the current mood of the band which is fronted by a now 60 year old Glenn Danzig. Danzig stays in his range vocally while the band provides a nice backing to his more mature sounding vocals. There’s still metal elements present, so we’re not talking another twangy blues track here, and the ever present Danzig bottom-end is mostly intact as well. As an aside, every time I hear this one I can’t help but think it would make for a cool video package based around WWE’s The Undertaker character.

44. Heart of the Devil (How the Gods Kill) – Unapologetically corny, this song makes its outlandish lyrics work. Danzig wails out some impressive vocals that only touch upon that Cookie Monster voice I’ve been a little tough on. Glenn sings about being evil and he sounds more convincing than ever before. The sound is nice and thick, a testament to old analog recording, and it cracks and sizzle with every beat. There’s a violent, sexy undercurrent that the band has often tried to strive for, but doesn’t always hit the mark. Here it does.

43. See All You Were (Blackacidevil) – This one might have been the hardest track to rank for me. It contains a lot of the elements from Danzig 5 that a majority of fans hated:  the vocals are heavily distorted, the instrumentation is mostly electronic, and it’s pretty noisy. It also possesses melody, which a lot of the album decided was no longer cool, and even though it’s hard to hear there’s a great vocal performance here from Glenn. If only a master track was preserved that contained the vocals pre-distortion. I really think with a different direction this one could have potentially made the top 25, but it will have to settle for where it’s at. Probably a polarizing one, as I rarely see it ranked among Danzig 5‘s best, but it’s one I’ve always appreciated.

42. Son of the Morning Star (Danzig IV) – This is another one that goes with a quiet, slow lead-in that eventually explodes. It’s buoyed by an awesome riff on the chorus that’s one of the band’s better mosh pit songs. Or it would be if the band played this one live often, but it’s been relegated more to the filler ranks on Danzig IV. It’s another strong vocal performance from Glenn, which the album is full of.

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I said the music video was decent, but it’s still plenty outlandish.  

41. Ju Ju Bone (Deth Red Sabaoth) – It’s another song from Deth Red Sabaoth that features a silly sounding name, but like “Black Candy” it also rocks. It even has a decent music video, which is rather rare for a late era Danzig song. It features a throwback riff that could have worked on Lucifuge if the production and tone matched that album. It finds a groove and rides the wave through the song without straying too far from that. Danzig’s vocals rise in intensity to give it some variety and finish. It’s one of my favorites from that album.

40. Am I Demon (Danzig) – One of the band’s earliest headbangers, “Am I Demon” has been a concert staple for 30 years and likely will continue to be. It’s an easy song to get into, and especially live, it packs a punch. In sort of a throw-back to old Misfits songs, the lyrics sound like they’re ripped right from a horror comic as they paint a cartoonishly evil picture of the main character’s visions. If it has a weakness, it’s that it probably goes on a bit too long, but at least it’s able to maintain its intensity throughout.

39. Little Whip (Danzig IV) – Danzig’s ode to BDSM, “Little Whip” takes the start slow and get loud formula and puts it to good use. The song becomes downright relentless towards the end with blast beats and heavy riffs accompanied by Danzig’s howls. The song doesn’t really have a chorus, it’s just the bits I described, but it works because it sounds so ferocious. The band takes itself seriously and avoids straying into cartoonish territory with the lyrics. It’s a great track, though I feel like it gets overlooked on the album sometimes.

38. Anything (How the Gods Kill) – This is one of the odder Danzig tracks because it doesn’t follow the usual lyrical formula. We have no evil boastings, no mention of demons, or any violent imagery of any kind. It’s basically a sweet little love song, though with a hint of desperation. It’s wrapped up in a poppy sounding blanket of sound. There’s a slight rawness to the vocal production on the louder parts and a very clean guitar tone on the solo. It’s atypical Danzig, but it’s catchy. It’s not the type of song most would probably want the band to revisit again and again, but as something of a one-time deal it works.

37. Halo Goddess Bone (I Luciferi) – Some 16 years after the album’s release, I’m still not certain of what the lyrics are to this song. If it was featured in the lyrics book from a few years ago, I’ve forgotten, and if it wasn’t well then maybe it will be in volume 2 (which by the time this entry goes up it may have already been released). Regardless, this is a catchy number from Danzig 7. I don’t know what it’s about, I have no idea what the title refers to, but I do know it’s got some good hooks.

36. Left Hand Rise Above (Deth Red Sabaoth) – The closer to Deth Red Sabaoth, “Left Hand Rise Above” is very similar the closer off of Danzig 7, “Without Light, I Am.” Since it’s not from that album though, it has a simpler sound to the production and mix. The vocal production is dry, which adds a rawness to the song that gives it more gravitas. It’s a bit more believable, though perhaps less impressive overall (hence the ranking where it is), but it’s still a stellar way to close out an album.

35. 1,000 Devils Reign (Circle of Snakes) – It feels like it’s been awhile since we talked about a song off of Circle of Snakes. That album is fairly top-heavy, which actually makes it similar to Blackacidevil in some respects, even though I think it’s overall the superior album. “1,000 Devils Reign” was the lead single, though it didn’t receive an actual physical release nor did it receive a music video. It was a showcase track for all of those worrying that Glenn Danzig’s voice had deteriorated, and the very clean and simple verse was here to announce that Danzig’s trademarked croon was still very much alive. This one mostly maintains a mid-tempo approach. There’s a softness to Danzig’s croon that injects more melody into the track than is really there, and the wailing chorus is just enough to dress it up. It feels very understated, but it works so well. I wish more tracks from this album featured such an approach.

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Jerry Cantrell lent his talents to a few tracks on Danzig V, most prominently on “Come to Silver.”

34. Come to Silver (Blackacidevil) – When Danzig 5 dropped, most fans were turned off. The one consistent though was the near universal praise fans heaped on this track, “Come to Silver.” Originally written for Johnny Cash, it was either rejected by Cash or just didn’t get recorded for one reason or another. Possibly complicating things was Danzig’s departure from Cash’s label. Either way, it’s presented here by Danzig and features some impressive lead guitar work by Alice in Chains axeman Jerry Cantrell. It’s similar in approach to the previously covered “Thirteen,” but the subject matter is more grounded. And since this is Danzig 5, there’s also plenty of industrial elements at play. The vocals are only mildly distorted, which actually gives the song a sort of “cold” feel to it. The drum pattern sounds electronic and it’s coated in fuzz, but the guitar work helps to elevate this one. The industrial elements mostly work to add a barren mood to the song, and I actually prefer it to the stripped-down acoustic version present on The Lost Tracks of Danzig.

33. Brand New God (Danzig IV) – Probably the best song Danzig could open a show with. This one is near relentless speed metal, an uncompromising track that’s fairly unique for the band. Sure, the band would play fast and heavy at times, but not usually to this degree. “7th House” kind of tried to mimic this one, but it sacrificed all semblance of melody in the process and mostly missed the mark. “Brand New God” knows when to pause and give the listener a break, bringing in a melodic bridge before going right back into the heaviness. It’s a total red herring though as an album intro since the rest of Danzig IV is mostly slow and brooding, but what a way to start.

32. Blood & Tears (Lucifuge) – For as heavy and evil sounding as Danzig can be, the band is quite proficient when it comes to ballads. This is the band’s first, and in Glenn Danzig’s career before this really nothing sounded like it. The closest may have been “To Walk the Night,” while another track “In the Doorway” still had yet to be released. “Blood & Tears” has a real 50’s vibe to it, a little bit of Elvis with a little bit of The Everly Brothers. It was a real surprise the first time I heard it, and even though I was a hardcore metal kid, I loved it from the start. The main guitar lick is playful yet somber, and Glenn’s vocals give the song a morose feel and he’s able to resist the urge to take the song some place it’s not meant to go. There’s just enough power in his voice making this one of the band’s best attempts at a ballad.

31. Black Angel/White Angel (Circle of Snakes) – Our last song to rank from “Circle of Snakes” is also the album’s final track. “Black Angel/White Angel” is a fairly quick and dirty number, not the usual type of song for the band to go out on, but also not unprecedented. The lyrics are a warning, and the way the song builds underneath them help achieve a crescendo effect when the chorus comes blazing in. The guitar tone and bass are much lighter in tone on this one when compared with the rest of the album making it sound like it’s almost from another session. It’s some-what surprising it made the album over “Lady Lucifera” for that reason, though given where I ranked that one I’m obviously happy that wasn’t the case.

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John Christ and Eerie Von are the same person.

30. Her Black Wings (Lucifuge) – Another concert staple is “Her Black Wings.” The video is relatively tame so it featured some mild airplay on MTV, though this was well before the band’s popularity peaked. Everyone who knows Danzig knows the main riff of this one as it signals the oncoming arrival of this demonic woman who apparently has a pair of impressive wings. This song knows its strengths, and sticks with it, as that driving melody is what sustains the song. It’s what brings it in, and what takes it out. Danzig’s vocals sound great, and while the chorus may be a tad on the dull side, the whole thing still feels good when it all comes together.

29. Deth Red Moon (Deth Red Sabaoth) – Another track that perhaps borrows a little from “Mother,” this melodic little number serving as the mid-point of Deth Red Sabaoth is one of the standout tracks from that album. The vocals are soft and understated, similar to “1,000 Devils Reign,” with even the chorus being somewhat reminiscent of that song as well. A catchy verse with a Danzig wailing chorus is a pretty solid formula for a song. It’s almost too easy, which is perhaps why there’s usually only one or two songs per album that go with that formula.

28. Dying Seraph (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – What an omission this was from I Luciferi! This is a very quiet song with a big chorus. Apparently about a dying angel, there’s a mild jazz undercurrent to the verse that’s really different for a Danzig song. I can only assume it was left off of the album because Danzig felt it just didn’t fit with the rest of the material, but it would have been a real highlight on the album. There’s still another song from these sessions we have yet to get to that also should have been included. Other than maybe Lucifuge, I Luciferi was the album that probably had the best songs removed from it. Thank Satan we have The Lost Tracks of Danzig!

27. Left Hand Black (How the Gods Kill) – This is a rebellious hard rock track that probably should be a concert mainstay, but for some reason is not. It’s all about challenging the gods with a hand clad in black. Because of that imagery it naturally lends itself to comparisons with the Samhain track “Lords of the Left Hand,” but this one is so much better and sounds entirely different. It’s one of the faster and heavier tracks on How the Gods Kill (at least with the chorus) and it’s in a great position on the album. It would have also been a good lead track if it didn’t already have an excellent lead track in “Godless.”

26. Dominion (Danzig IV) – I think this one is intended as filler for Danzig IV, but it’s one of my favorites from that album and maybe the most overlooked gem of the entire Danzig catalogue. It’s fairly somber, but the chorus is damn effective and catchy. It has a similar mood to a lot of the first half of the album as the song’s voice is depressing and defeated, but there’s also a hidden power there as well. There’s also some nice guitar work by John Christ who was possibly taken out of his comfort zone on this album, but still manages to shine brightly (or darkly).

25. Without Light, I Am (I Luciferi) – Another big closer, I consider this the unofficial middle song of a three song trilogy beginning with “Let it be Captured” and ending with “Left Hand Rise Above.” This one has more bombast while still being an evil ballad of sorts. A nice riff brings in the chorus, which is a fairly straightforward shouting chorus that belies where the song is heading. This one is all about the outro, where Danzig wails the song’s title with ever increasing intensity My only complaint is that it just fades out and I wish there was more finality to the song.

24. Ashes (Blackacidevil) – The closing number to the original Danzig 5, this one is unlike most Danzig closers because it starts quiet and it stays quiet. The song only slightly teases that it might go somewhere else with Glenn’s voice rising ever so slightly at times. He also utilizes something closer to falsetto, and this is probably the highest we’ve ever heard Glenn go. It’s a real downer track, so how much you enjoy that mood will likely influence your enjoyment of it. There’s no vocal distortion at all, and the music is basically some electronic wind sounds, a very subtle electronic bass, and some piano. I think it’s unquestionably the best song on Blackacidevil and also its most interesting, even though the rest of the album sounds nothing like it.

23. Hammer of the Gods (Deth Red Sabaoth) – The polar opposite of our last entry, “Hammer of the Gods” is a heavy intro song that has no interest in compromise or “let-up” in it. As the title implies, it dabbles in Norse mythology which is not well-trod territory for Danzig and it’s a nice change of pace. This song really should have taken over as the concert opener, and yet it still plays second fiddle to “Skin Carver.” The world is unjust.

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A lot of blue in this one.

22. How the Gods Kill (How the Gods Kill) – Is this one not high enough? I’m not sure, but it’s the one I feel the most iffy about. It’s one of the band’s biggest crowd pleasers off of one of its most recognizable albums. I think I’ve listened to it so much that maybe I’m a little biased against it, but it basically takes the Danzig “big song” formula of slow, quiet intro, into big explosive middle section that goes back to the cool sounding opener to close things out. Also in the middle is a screeching section of pinch harmonics, which it seems some fans are a little down on in the modern Danzig releases, but don’t seem to hold against this track. It’s a truly classic Danzig cut and if you want to move it up on this list I won’t really fight you on it.

21. Bringer of Death (Danzig IV) – Sometimes it’s all about placement. I am an album guy, I don’t really listen to compilations, greatest hits, shuffle mode, or custom playlists. This track arrives after a series of slow to mid tempo songs with a depressing tone and brings back the Danzig swagger with an explosive sound. Machine gun fire leads into a similar machine-gun-like riff in which Danzig equates God with the Devil. The song pauses briefly for a bridge, before howling back into the speed metal of the first part. It’s a similar structure to “Brand New God,” and I personally love how the second half of the album starts off similar to the first. It’s a great listening experience for you album enthusiasts out there and a reason why Danzig IV is my overall favorite release from the band.

20. Soul on Fire (Danzig) – One of the best songs off of the debut album, “Soul on Fire” has a bit of a sexy swagger to it despite not overtly going for that with its lyrics. It has a deliberate pace and structure, but the play of the verse with the guitar solos and chorus compliment one another perfectly. There’s also an understated saxophone on the chorus which should feel out of place, but it’s timed just right. It’s also arguably the best vocal performance from Glenn on the first album, and the more I think about this one the more I am doubting myself for ranking it here and not higher. I have a feeling I’ll be rethinking all of the top 20 as we move along because these songs are just so hard to separate.

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Danzig getting political.

19. Cantspeak (Danzig IV) – The lead single for Danzig IV, this song had a lot riding on it since it was the follow-up to “Mother ’93” which had been a surprise hit for the band. The label sunk a ton of money into the music video which featured stop-motion effects and some primitive CG. The song itself though was an odd choice. It’s a slow, depressing number in which the song’s voice is essentially suicidal and is left practically comatose thanks to the state of current events. This was the 90s so depressing was certainly in, but this was depressing without a pop chorus. It felt more like the deep cut fans were supposed to gush about as a reason for buying the album instead of just consuming the singles. Perhaps “Dominion” would have made for a better single as that has more of a pop flourish to pair with its dark tone, but that wasn’t the case here. The song itself is really interesting though as the guitar is just the guitar recording for the song “Let it be Captured” played backwards. There’s also some vocal distortion on the chorus, and the song always feels like it’s building towards a crescendo that never truly comes.

18. Sistinas (How the Gods Kill) – The ballad of Danzig III, “Sistinas” is basically a love song, but it does have a slight darkness to it. It’s Danzig’s most Elvis sounding song and I’ve even had more than one person walk in on me listening to it and ask if it was an Elvis track. It’s simple, but pleasant, with a nice vocal performance. My favorite thing about this song though is that it was the favorite Danzig song of a friend of mine back in high school. This was a heavy-set kid with a limp, green mohawk more known for listening to crust punk, but he loved Danzig. He would sometimes sing this song aloud, off key, much to my amusement.

17. The Coldest Sun (I Luciferi) – One of the oddest, and best, songs from Danzig 7. It has a very heavy riff that brings the song in before turning into an odd industrial track with some weird vocal distortion. It then brings in a crunchy, heavy section, that gives way to a soaring, epic, chorus that showcases Danzig’s vocals. It is perhaps the best chorus he’s ever recorded. Without it, the song is probably mediocre, but instead it’s one of the best. It’s a chorus that I can’t get enough of, and the song wisely only gives you a taste of it so it doesn’t become diminished. I love it so much that it’s been my ringtone for the last 10 years.

16. Snakes of Christ (Lucifuge) – One of the band’s early “Jesus is just as bad as Satan” songs, “Snakes of Christ” owes a lot to Black Sabbath as it’s kind of groovy in its evil. A fist-thrusting, head banging tune, “Snakes of Christ” has long been a fan-favorite and concert mainstay for the band ever since its release. Years after its release Glenn Danzig would allege that Stone Temple Pilots ripped off this song with “Sex Type Thing,” which adds some additional notoriety to it.

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If you look closely, you can see Danzig advertised on the cover of Comix Zone.

15. Going Down to Die (Danzig IV) – A showcase for Glenn Danzig’s vocals, this song’s title also tells you all you need to know about the subject of the song. There’s some imagery of the River Styx and a feeling of fatigue as the voice of the song makes its way into the afterlife. I love how the song paces itself, with some drum crashes mid-verse and a big chorus. This song also features one of John Christ’s best guitar solos he contributed to the band as it’s sweeping and melodic while containing plenty of technical proficiency. If you happened to be a Sega Genesis gamer back in the mid-90s and purchased the game Comix Zone you received a sample CD with this song as the lead-off track. Aside from this song though, the rest of that disc was pretty bad.

14. Godless (How the Gods Kill) – Maybe the best album opener Danzig has recorded, though there are a lot of them and some still to come on this ranking. “Godless” packs a punch right from the start, but it slows things down as the vocals come in. The faster section returns and the song really cooks, to borrow a phrase from the 50s, before ending with a weird prayer of sorts. I love John Christ’s guitar work on this one and Chuck Biscuit’s drumming is what brings the whole thing together. Danzig’s vocals are also great, though a little low in the mix at times. It’s a great song though, and the rebellious subject matter made it one of my favorite songs when I was a teen, and some 20 years later, it still does it for me.

Since this is a Danzig list, it feels appropriate to cut this part off here and do a top 13 instead of a top 10. Plus we’re over 4,500 words as even though I try to be brief with my description of each track, I apparently still say too much. Check back on Tuesday, as we pause for Dragon Ball Z Movie Monday, when we’ll be wrapping this feature up with the best songs of Danzig!


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