The preferred medium for music has changed quite a bit in my lifetime. When I was born in the 80s, the vinyl LP was still king, but 8-tracks were still tolerated for their portability and cassette tapes were taking hold. It wouldn’t be long until the compact disc, or CD, started to take over. Portable like a cassette, but with crystal clear audio even surpassing vinyl, made the CD very desirable. It was also really cheap to manufacture, though actual players were quite expensive at the onset (as is the case with most new technology). A CD player in your home stereo was a status symbol that quickly became ordinary, while players in the car or as part of a PC tower would remain expensive and uncommon into the 1990s. Other formats would attempt to overthrow the CD, but nothing took hold. What finally knocked the CD off of the mountain is what would eventually crush the DVD and Blu Ray: digital. People realized they liked the convenience of just downloading music. Audio compression techniques were perfected throughout the 90s and into the 2000s to the point where only the snobbiest self-proclaimed audiophiles could claim to tell the difference. Once massive sections of CDs at record stores dwindled and some multi-media stores have abandoned them all together.
With the era of physical media essentially over nostalgia has been allowed to take hold. And one of the main benefactors has been the old school vinyl LP. Listening to a record on vinyl is a different experience from that of a CD or digital one. There’s an imperfection and variance to the audio experience as variations in the player’s needle or something as mundane as a little dust on the record itself can alter the experience. It’s also an active experience as the listener has to physically flip the record over after 20 minutes to a half hour or even change the disc all together if the album is a long one. The package has to be physically bigger to accommodate the medium’s size which affords ample opportunity for oversized artwork, liner notes, and pictures. Cheaper records are released in little more than a slipcase for the record, while most feature a gatefold design that opens to reveal a more dramatic image. The medium is popular enough that most new albums are released on CD and vinyl today. The pressing numbers are far lower than what they were 10 or 20 years ago, but there’s enough demand out there that bands and labels see a benefit to producing them.
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.
The record bombed. Danzig ditched the heavy metal crooner persona he had refined at American in favor of an electronic/industrial mix. The vocals were often buried under a thick layer of distortion and traditional instruments were sometimes left out all together. Alice in Chains axeman Jerry Cantrell contributed to a few tracks, and the album did have its moments with the fuzzy blues number “Come to Silver” and the morose album closer “Ashes,” but it’s hardly a controversial statement to refer to Blackacidevil as Danzig’s worst album to date. To complicate matters further, when some parent groups found out that Hollywood Records had signed the “satanic” Danzig to its label there was some public outcry. This was a problem for the label’s parent company, The Walt Disney Company, and the controversy combined with the album’s poor performance caused them to cut bait. Danzig was again a free agent, but a wealthier one, and he even got to retain full distribution rights to the album.
Because of the timing of the album’s release and poor commercial performance, Blackacidevil never saw release beyond CD and cassette. The album would be reissued a couple of times as a website exclusive and as an enhanced version through E-Magine music in 2000. The enhanced version featured new artwork by the late Martin Emond as well as three additional tracks, none of which did much to elevate the poor original release. Ever since, the album has been mostly ignored by Danzig. The songs are never played live any longer and the band even ignored it for the chronological 20th anniversary setlist that featured songs from every release except Blackacidevil. There seems to be little enthusiasm for the record from both the band and the music community. The album still has its share of defenders amongst the diehard fanbase, but even those defenses have become more muffled over the years. As the years have gone by, Blackacidevil has never shaken off its status as the black sheep of the Danzig catalog. Driving that point home even further is the fact that the album is the only Danzig release to not be released on vinyl. All of the American Recordings releases received a vinyl release, though some were exclusive to certain regions of the world. Even the post Blackacidevil albums received sporadic vinyl editions. The follow-up album, Satan’s Child, was released in Europe in small numbers and it’s follow-up received a curious one-off release as well that was apparently licensed by the band, but not overseen. After that, vinyl started making its comeback so Circle of Snakes, Deth Red Sabaoth, and even the covers records received vinyl editions. And in the case of the most recent, they received numerous special editions of varying colored vinyl and picture discs.
Even though Blackacidevil is not an album I much care for, it has been a hole in my Danzig vinyl collection for some time. I am, by no means, a completist, but I have at least one vinyl edition of every Danzig release. The only ones I’ve passed on were some of the singles and the Glenn Danzig release Black Aria II, quite possible the worst thing he’s ever put his name on (well, until the movies). I even used to have a dedicated room for my collecting, before I had kids, in which I had my Danzig vinyl collection arranged on the wall in special LP frames. It always bothered me that Blackacidevil was not represented, but now that era is coming to a close.
It was years ago that Glenn Danzig indicated he was looking to re-release some of his work on vinyl. Blackacidevil was mentioned along with his first solo release, Who Killed Marilyn?, but nothing came of it. Then pretty much out of no where, solicitations for a Blackacidevil vinyl release started appearing online. They started at smaller places on the web, but soon even Danzig’s current label Cleopatra Records put the record up for sale. It’s to be released in October and the album will have two pressings: black and silver colored vinyl. The jacket features the updated Martin Emond artwork from the reissue while the track list features just the original ten from the Hollywood release. It looks to be a gatefold release and even though it’s referred to as a “deluxe” reissue I don’t see anything new attached to it. Some places are also selling a CD reissue as well.
If you have read my review of the album then you already know that it isn’t something I recommend. This is a release for the diehard fans that either do actually like the album or are like me and just see this as a missing piece to their collection. With the amount of editions Cleopatra pressed of the more recent Danzig Sings Elvis I guess I shouldn’t be surprised they’d give this album a look. It gives me some hope that maybe more reissues are on the way. I don’t have that much interest in rebuying albums I already have on vinyl, but with Blackacidevil getting a release that just leaves one, last, grail item in the Danzig catalog: Final Descent. Yes, the fourth and final Samhain release is the only one from that band to not see release on vinyl. It was a hastily thrown together effort as it came out after the band had been dissolved and turned into Danzig, so it was only released on CD and tape. The entirety of the Samhain catalog is long overdue for a re-release of some kind and is far more worthy than Blackacidevil. Hopefully that’s something being actively discussed. As for Blackacidevil, I have no intention of doing a review of just the vinyl when I have it in my possession. I ordered a silver copy since I’ll likely never actually listen to it. It’ll come in, I’ll look it over, and file it away in my Danzig record collection where it likely will go untouched for years, but at least the catalog will now feel complete.