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Samhain – The Ultimate Song Ranking

samhain headerIt had to happen, no? After ranking all of the songs puts out by the Glenn Danzig-fronted Misfits last Halloween to ranking every song put out by Danzig in celebration of the band’s 30th anniversary, only Samhain remained. The middle child of Glenn Danzig’s bands, Samhain has always been the most overlooked and least appreciated. This is largely due to the band only really existing for about 3 years, barely giving it time to develop its own sound. Predictably, the band sounds like a mash-up of The Misfits and early Danzig as this was basically Glenn Danzig going solo.

As a result of Samhain existing for such a brief period, the volume of songs with the Samhain branding total far fewer than the other two bands. The band had 36 recordings including instrumentals and oddities like “Initium.” Since it’s such a low total relative to the other bands I am forgoing any sort of rules with this ranking. All songs are being ranked individually. The only recordings not considered are the live versions from Samhain’s lone live album. This means I am including covers (most of which are Glenn Danzig covering himself anyway), and there’s even two versions of one song. All of the Samhain releases are long out of print, but I’m sure there are other means of hearing these songs if you don’t want to pay after-market rates. So let’s get down to it and celebrate the festival of Samhain by ranking the works of Samhain:

36. Misery Tomb (Unholy Passion) – Let’s start with the dubious one, the worst Samhain track. This one comes with an asterisk as it’s not really a song and more a collection of noises. Not on the original release of Unholy Passion, “Misery Tomb” is just the vocal wails and effects from that EP’s closing track “I Am Misery” isolated all by itself. It would have made more sense as a CD hidden track which is usually the realm for oddities such as this, but instead it was stuck among the regular songs.

35. Unbridled (November-Coming-Fire) – Given what I said about the first entry, “Unbridled” can be considered my true pick for worst Samhain song. Most of that is due to the terrible production on the track. The vocals are buried in the mix and the sound is so low it sounds way out of place among the better mastered tracks. The music accompanying it does have a playful malevolence to it that is kind of interesting, but the limitations of the band keep it from progressing into anything worthwhile making this track feel incomplete.

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Initium was the band’s debut album, and some would say its best.

34. Initium (Initium) – Most of what I said about “Misery Tomb” applies to “Initium.” The only difference is this one is an intro to the band’s first album, and judged on that merit, it’s effective. As a piece of music, it’s just some wind effects with Glenn speaking over it. The lyrics are pretty campy, but it’s fine for what it is.

33. Birthright (November-Coming-Fire) – “Birthright” is the misstep of side 1 on Samhain III. While the other tracks prioritize melody over intensity, this one mostly forgoes that. Like “Unbridled” the production on the vocals also leaves something to be desired. Perhaps if it had a hook in its chorus it would have worked out better.

32. Night Chill (Final Descent) – The instrumental intro for Samhain’s posthumous LP, Final Descent, feels a bit weak compared with the intro on the prior album, but by itself it’s suitable. As its name implies, it’s more a chilling piece of music and it possesses a spooky vibe, for lack of a better term. In short, it accomplishes what it needs to.

31. Macabre (Initium) – This is a track that is distinct for its lack of melody. The beat is rather mischievous, with that malevolent Samhain guitar tone, but the vocals feel isolated. It’s just Glenn screaming nonsense. The imagery is violent, and the song basically has no hooks, but one gets the impression that it’s not supposed to. Raw and intense, you probably either like that about it or you don’t.

30. Lords of the Left Hand (Final Descent) – This one sounds more like a Danzig song. It’s a slow tempo number with an apocalyptic vibe. It could have been snuck onto the first Danzig record without feeling too out of place. This is the original version, and it’s a song I’ve never had particularly strong feelings for. If Final Descent were a true full-length LP this would have been fine as filler, but when forced to stand out it feels a bit lacking.

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There’s not a lot of Samhain band shots out there, since the band existed for such a short time.

29. Kiss of Steel (November-Coming-Fire) – Bizarre given the subject matter, “Kiss of Steel” is that old school up-tempo punk song with the Samhain bells and whistles. It’s a song about car wrecks, so it’s violent and fits in with the rest of the album given that aspect, though it still seems like a mundane subject for Samhain. It’s brief and relentless though and does possess plenty of hooks.

28. Trouble (Final Descent) – Glenn Danzig and the band’s first attempt at an Elvis cover, this one was originally released on the version of Final Descent included with the Samhain Box Set. It’s similar to what the band Danzig would record, but with less polish. The vocal track sounds like it was done in one take which gives it a raw authenticity. There’s swagger here, perhaps more so than the Danzig version. It’s pretty cool to hear, and even though it lacks some of that Samhain goth vibe, it mostly sounds like what you would expect given what the Danzig version turned out like.

27. Moribund (Unholy Passion) – If you missed the goth texture on the previous song, then you’ll be pleased to know it’s captured here. “Moribund” is sort of Samhain by the numbers. It’s got a bit of a punk thing going on, there’s some added keyboard effects, and it’s fairly catchy. It’s just a little boring compared to the better songs that follow this mold and it’s probably harmed by the fact that its chorus is just the song’s title repeated over and over.

26. Lords of the Left Hand (2nd Version) (Final Descent) – Released with the Samhain Box Set, this version of “Lords of the Left Hand” is much faster. While the original is more methodical, this one is relentless and I think it suits the song’s subject matter better as a result. As a song not deemed worthy of release initially, there is an unfinished vibe to it, but the rawness of the recording is kind of charming as well.

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Final Descent was the 1990 posthumous album from Samhain. It was the only Samhain album to not receive a vinyl release.

25. The Birthing (Final Descent) – Kind of a paradox, as a song called “The Birthing” is essentially all about “The End.” This one has a fun and unique song structure that makes it stand out. Glenn gives a great vocal performance, proving that he’s learned a thing or two since disbanding Samhain, making this one sound a bit more like a Danzig song as opposed to a Samhain one.

24. Death…In Its Arms (Final Descent) – A slow tempo jam kind-of song. It’s another Final Descent track that sounds more like an idea than a realized song. It also sounds halfway between Samhain and Danzig. What is here though is fine, and there’s a groove to this one that helps it stand out. There’s a vocal melody utilized by Glenn here that’s also unique to this song. In short, it doesn’t sound like anything that came before it, or since.

23. Human Pony Girl (November-Coming-Fire) – According to former bassist Eerie Von, when Glenn embarked on writing for Samhain he deliberately wanted to bring in more sexual themes to his lyrics. He had some growing pains and some of the stuff sounds forced or corny, but come Samhain III he seemed more confident. “Human Pony Girl” is one such song and if you like songs about Glenn bare-backing some woman then this one is for you. It’s kind of menacing, and Glenn’s delivery hints at violence without overtly stating anything truly violent. It’s a bit odd as a closer for the album, but I’ve met some female fans who really dig this one.

samhain metallica

The boys of Metallica were fans of the band. James Hetfield would end up singing on the Danzig version of “Possession.”

22. Possession (Final Descent) – Another early version of a song that would appear on the first Danzig record, “Possession” is a rough, slightly faster, version of what ended up being released. It’s not unlike “Twist of Cain” in that regard, which is still to come on our list. The lo-fi recording gives the song a gritty quality that I think suits it rather well though I still prefer the Danzig version.

21. He-Who-Can-Not-Be-Named (Initium) – Like “Moribund,” this is another Samhain by the numbers kind of track. It adds this “whoa” track that would probably sound rather funny if isolated from the song, but works with it and gives the song its own flair. It’s a catchy track and Glenn’s vocal delivery rises in intensity throughout the song giving it a satisfying climax. While “Moribund” felt like perfectly fine filler, this one is elevated above that rank.

20. Halloween II (November-Coming-Fire) – Our first Samhain version of a Misfits song. Samhain was actually pretty adept at taking what was old and making it better. “Halloween II” from The Misfits was a moody kind of track, more of a gimmick than true song, but Samhain adds more guitar and a new groove that really pulls everything together. Glenn went for more of a chant quality with the original recording, but here there’s a distinct vocal melody and he practically shouts the verse at the listener. It gives the song a new dimension, a new intensity, and ultimately makes this my preferred version of the song.

19. Diabolos ’88 (November-Coming-Fire) – Samhain’s best instrumental song, “Diablos ’88” is the lead-off track to Samhain III and it’s really punky and fun. It has a lot of Samhain’s trademarked added texture effects with chimes and chants. It’s very up-tempo and probably could have worked as a song with lyrics if Glenn had so desired, but even as an instrumental, it’s pretty damn great.

18. Twist of Cain (Final Descent) – The other soon-to-be Danzig track included on the Final Descent re-issue, “Twist of Cain” has the impossible task of living up to one of Danzig’s most classic tunes. Naturally, it can’t match that band’s rendition, but it is pretty cool to hear in this unrefined, raw, form. Glenn practically growls the chorus and sounds more menacing here than he will with Danzig. All these years later, it would be kind of cool to see if the band could pull-off a similar live version of this song after years of playing it the Danzig way as I think this version would work really well in that setting.

17. The Shift (Initium) – “The Shift” is a slow, brooding, track that’s over before it can really get going, but what it does accomplish in its brief run time is pretty cool. Like a lot of the songs from this album “The Shift” feels like a horror film made song. It’s overshadowed a bit by the songs that follow it on Initium, but shouldn’t be overlooked because of that.

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The Unholy Passion EP was the band’s second release. Start to finish, it might be the band’s tightest release.

16. The Hungry End (Unholy Passion) – This one kicks off with an unsettling, frantic, yet simple, guitar riff. As Glenn comes into the picture he’s screaming about a baby in a meat slicer, his voice straining above the piercing sounds of the guitar. There’s a rawness to the vocal delivery, as if it was done in a single take, and the song relents when it gets to a fairly melodious and tastefully delivered chorus. It’s a really neat, and unique, song amongst the Samhain catalog and it really drives home how, even though the band wasn’t really much more talented than The Misfits, Glenn was better at utilizing what this band could do to craft its songs.

15. Black Dream (Initium) – “Black Dream” is a fairly no-frills punk track, an early example of Glenn Danzig trying to incorporate some sex into his lyrics. It doesn’t quite reach the mark in that regard, but what is here is a very catchy punk song that could have come from The Misfits had Glenn chosen to do so. The only thing that makes it sound like a Samhain song is the minimal use of keys to accentuate some of the bass during the chorus.

14. November’s Fire (November-Coming-Fire) – Raise your hand if you sometimes forget this song is called “November’s Fire” and not “November-Coming-Fire” like the album and chorus would lead you to believe. I know I do. It’s obviously not important, and I think it’s still safe to consider this the title track of Samhain III despite the slight difference in naming. This one follows “Halloween II” on the album and logically seems to be about the festival of Samhain as it references fires and the month of November. It’s catchy, with a fun guitar hook. The chorus has a gallop quality to it in the drumming which is pretty unique for Glenn Danzig songs. It can safely be considered one of the band’s signature songs.

13. Horror Biz (Initium) – A new take on The Misfits classic “Horror Business.” This one emphasizes the drumming of Steve Zing and utilizes a more deliberate vocal melody while somewhat downplaying the guitar in comparison with the original. The slightly improved production makes Glenn’s lyrics easier to decipher, including the final line of the song which is mostly unintelligible in the Misfits version. It’s also slightly slower, sacrificing some of that speed and intensity for a more refined groove. Unlike “Halloween II,” I don’t prefer this version to the original, but I do appreciate it. There’s room for two and that chorus will never not be fun to sing along to.

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I’ve encountered many fans who consider Samhain’s third release, and last while together, the band’s best.

12. Mother of Mercy (November-Coming-Fire) – This one is perhaps the most famous Samhain song due to its inclusion in the Metallica version of Guitar Hero. It’s obviously a favorite of Hetfield’s and with good reason. It seems to be about giving one’s self up to an older dominatrix, or at least submitting to an older woman. It almost doesn’t matter, as like any good Misfits/Samhain song it really leans into some nice, catchy, hooks that render the song’s subject matter practically moot. This one was apparently also a favorite of Glenn’s as Danzig would keep it in its set list for a few years after Samhain’s demise. It’s not a particularly fast or slow song, but there’s something undeniably fun about that chorus, “We all want our time in Hell.”

11. All Murder, All Guts, All Fun (Initium) – This is another Samhain song that could have easily been a Misfits recording. It’s very punk in nature, uptempo, catchy, and the lyrics are deliberately offensive in order to garner attention (presumably). It’s also graphic, like a lot of Misfits stuff. To make it feel like Samhain has moved beyond The Misfits though there’s a bridge that would be atypical for a Misfits cut. And even though the song slows down for that bridge it still manages to remain catchy, in particular the “Do-you-do-you ree-ah-lize…” conjuring visions of the 50s in some respect. It’s a fun, juvenile, song though that’s rightfully played at every Samhain show.

10. I Am Misery (Unholy Passion) – Perhaps Samhain’s most ambitious song, this one gives up some of the catchy aspects of Samhain’s best, but incorporates perhaps Glenn’s best lyrics. The voice of the song is misery personified, and it’s rather effectual. It moves between being uptempo and mid and there’s plenty of layering and textures added. A great way to kick off Samhain’s Top 10.

9. Samhain (Initium) – The band’s title track, and the only Glenn Danzig band to have such a thing. It’s a great way to introduce the listener to what Samhain is all about. The lyrics are clearly inspired by the actual holiday. It’s very brief, but it works so well. It’s got enough attitude and atmosphere to make it sounds kind of dangerous. It feels minimalist, but it’s so catchy. And when it ends it leaves you wanting more which is the mark of a good song. ‘Tis the night to laugh at Death, indeed.

8. All Hell (Unholy Passion) – The last of The Misfits covers, “All Hell” is a new version of “All Hell Breaks Loose” and it basically kicks ass. Gun to my head, I probably would take this over The Misfits version, but I love both. Like “Horror Biz,” the drums are really emphasized here and the vocal melody is altered for a more deliberate delivery. The way the song is structured really suits this style and adds to the rising intensity the song tries to build up to. The better production also doesn’t hurt in separating it from its predecessor.

final descent CD

Early versions of Final Descent contained the Unholy Passion EP tacked-on the round things out. It wasn’t until the E-Magine reissue that the early Danzig demos were added.

7. Unholy Passion (Unholy Passion) – If someone asks me what Samhain sounds like relative to Glenn Danzig’s more popular bands, this is a song I would point them towards. It’s a mid-tempo track that starts off with a simple bass line and then gradually layers upon that before breaking into the full song. It has all of the atmosphere it needs which is why the EP from which its taken doesn’t need an instrumental lead-in, this accomplishes that task while also delivering a full-fledged and terrific song. There’s a distance in the vocals that adds a haunting quality to the song, and also covers up some goofy lyrics. And as the song states repeatedly; it’s unholy.

6. To Walk the Night (November-Coming-Fire) – This might be Samhain’s slowest song. I’ve never actually measured it, but it’s the closest to a traditional ballad the band recorded. It possesses a somber tone with an understated, but effective, vocal performance from Glenn Danzig. It’s easy listening, which makes it stand out. It’s a personal favorite of mine.

5. Descent (Final Descent) – Final Descent was basically an encore for Samhain. It’s not a bad release either, though I do rank it behind the other three Samhain releases. The songs are worth hearing, but the only one that ever struck me as special is “Descent.” It likely benefits from being recorded essentially by the band Danzig and it contains the best production of any Samhain track. Danzig’s vocals are awesome and intense, and I wish this song received more love from the band during the various reunions that have taken place over the years.

4. The Howl (Initium) – Another moody little horror cut, “The Howl” is a fan-favorite song. I love Glenn’s vocal performance, and the slow gallop of the drums thumps along driving the tempo. It’s a fun horror story, that probably predictable given the song’s title, turns into a series of howls to close it out. Seeing the band perform this one live covered in blood is about as “Samhain” as it gets.

3. In My Grip (November-Coming-Fire) – A power fantasy made song, Glenn Danzig has always had the ability to take what looks corny on paper and turn into something convincing in song. The nature of this song makes for an easy comparison to the Danzig song “Left Hand Black” since it contains similar themes. I love the uneasiness the verse’s guitar creates which leads to the explosive chorus. A great way to kick-off what many feel is the band’s best album.

danzig blood

Glenn Danzig’s affection for Samhain has led to multiple reunions over the years where he once again covers himself in blood to perform.

2. Let the Day Being (November-Coming-Fire) – The companion track to “To Walk the Night,” which leads into this one on the album. “Let the Day Begin” is the polar opposite – uptempo, catchy, and a whole lot of fun. A reckoning is falling upon the world ushering in a new age with fire and fury that will spare no one. It’s uncompromising in its lyrics, which if perhaps given a higher profile would prove controversial, but since this is Samhain it gets to fly under the radar. The song is anchored by its chorus which is perhaps the catchiest one produced by Samhain. Just go and try to get it out of your head.

And the winner is…

Archangel (Initium) – The signature Samhain song, the best of the best. I wrestled with what should be number one since I primarily consider Samhain a punk band and punk bands tend to write fast songs. “Archangel” is not fast, and it’s the band’s longest song at that. Nothing else in the band’s catalogue really sounds like it, but it’s arguably the band’s most complete song. It’s a song that could not have been recorded by The Misfits, and likely wouldn’t sound like this if Danzig had recorded it too. It’s distinctly Samhain. It has an extra bass track that would necessitate Glenn to pick-up an axe himself for live performances, something he rarely ever does. The production is just lo-fi enough to give it a haunting quality and Glenn deftly maneuvers his voice through the song knowing when to croon and when to howl. The song is paced well and the outro it possesses is just another way it separates itself from the rest of the band’s catalogue. It’s a natural show closer, and ultimately my pick for Samhain’s best song.

 

There you have it, all of the Samhain songs ranked. It wasn’t the endeavor that ranking the Danzig songs was, but it was a lot of fun revisiting these songs I’ve listened to so many times during the course of my life. I hope your Happy Halloween has led into a Scintillating Samhain. And just because the holiday has passed doesn’t mean you can’t still listen to Samhain. As far as I’m concerned, it’s always in season.


The Ultimate Danzig Song Ranking – Conclusion

A-217411-1160871896.jpegWe have made it to the final 13, the best of the best that Danzig has written and recorded. This feature has totaled nearly 15,000 words as we’ve had to sort through 116 songs just to make it this far. Now considering we’re only covering 13 in this last post, I don’t think this one will run quite as long, but who knows? For these last batch of songs, it likely comes as no surprise that most of them come from Danzig’s first four albums. Those are often considered the best the band put out. That’s not to say what has followed has not been worthwhile, far from it, but it is what it is. And of these 13, we still actually have a cut from Danzig 7 to discuss and a few from The Lost Tracks of Danzig compilation, which really is a fantastic release for fans of old and newer Danzig. These songs, as well as the preceding dozens, were hard to rank. Even as I look over my final rankings, there’s an urge to tinker with it and move things around, but I suspect no amount of adjusting would ever truly satisfy me. Even my number 1 is a bit tenuous. Since it’s my ranking, I just went with my favorite song, so anyone else’s rankings could easily feature something else in its place. That’s what makes the whole exercise worth while though. Let’s get to it!

13. Black Mass (I Luciferi) – Danzig’s seventh studio album kicks off with the instrumental “Unendlich,” an eerie piece of music that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Castlevania game. It takes us into the first real song of the album, “Black Mass,” a throwback to Danzig’s Black Sabbath roots and proof positive the man could still croon after decades in the music business. This song made quite a statement, as previous albums seemed to try and hide Danzig’s vocals at times and were often reluctant to make them the showcase. For Blackacidevil, that decision was a stylistic choice, but fans worried when Satan’s Child featured a hoarse sounding Danzig underneath some digital layering and wondered what the future held for the former velvet-voiced crooner. I’d like to think that “Black Mass” slayed those fears as an almost gentle sounding Glenn brings us into the song following the heavy riffing of guitarist Todd Youth. There’s an edge to his voice though, a mature sound, and even though we’re back into the comic book imagery of skulls and sacrifices, the band seems deadly serious. The song never rises too high in terms of volume, but it doesn’t have to. After dabbling with industrial elements, this is a song that would have been right at home on Danzig III or Danzig IV, and it’s the best song from the underrated Danzig 7:77 I Luciferi.

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The video for “Killer Wolf” is mostly Glenn posturing in front of things while the band and some random women just hang around an old shack. It ranks fairly high on the unintentional comedy scale.

12. Killer Wolf (Lucifuge) – Another blues song with some swagger, “Killer Wolf” is the post “Mother” song of caution for you parents out there. There’s a dirty vagabond feel to the lyrics, a wandering prowler on the hunt for sin – an image Danzig is more than capable of wielding with some degree of authenticity. Danzig’s vocals shine as they howl out the chorus, the little vocal “twang” on the word “wolf” creates that southern atmosphere the album was looking for. It’s a mid-tempo song and the band provides the backing to Glenn’s vocals with precision. The song has a rolling feel to it that explodes in the end with a powerful closing minute. An early album stunner for the excellent second album.

 

11. Bound by Blood (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – The song Glenn Danzig couldn’t bring himself to include on Danzig 7. He expressed frustration in at least one interview pre-release for that album that he was going to have to leave this one out because it either didn’t quite fit with the rest of the songs on the album or because he wanted to keep the running time down. There was talk of doing a single release, or an EP, and this may have also been around the time he started floating the idea of a boxed set of unreleased songs. We may have the song now, but if I may say, Glenn – you should have included it on the album in the first place. “Bound by Blood” is surprisingly not a song about bondage, but by the literal bindings of blood that exist between family. The lyrics are heartfelt and sweet, and while the song begins like a ballad, it erupts with that famous Danzig bottom-end before long while Todd Youth does his best work for any Danzig song he’s been a part of. The song crashes along with Glenn’s howls, and if it has a weakness, it could in that it perhaps lasts a bit too long. Because the early portion of the song is so lovely sounding, it makes me wonder what an acoustic version would sound like. I don’t necessarily think it would be better, but I do think it could exist on its own. It’s great that we have The Lost Tracks of Danzig to enjoy this and other songs from it, but there is a part of me that listens to the Danzig 7 era tracks and wonder how much better that album could have been. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and it’s a toss-up between that and Deth Red Sabaoth for best post original lineup album, but it could have been even better.

10. Let it be Captured (Danzig IV) – This one is perhaps the greatest showcase for Glenn Danzig’s vocal prowess, and lucky for him, it was recorded during the time when he was probably at his best. “Let it be Captured” is another ballad and it’s similar in subject matter to “Sistinas” off Danzig III. The voice of the song is offering an invitation to the song’s target. It’s sweet, and there’s no apparent sinister urges in this one and it meanders artfully through the early parts of the song before the rush of the outro strikes. It’s that outro where Danzig goes off relentlessly wailing the song’s title with a few additional lyrics thrown in here and there for variety. It’s awesome, the perfect song to listen to in the car alone when you want to sing at the top of your lungs. It’s the song I would put on for someone who doesn’t think Danzig can sign or lacks powerful pipes (admittedly, I’ve never really encountered anyone who thinks either). It’s perhaps self-indulgent, but that’s why songs like this only come along so often.

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Despite consisting of mostly stock live footage, the videos for “Twist of Cain” and “Am I Demon” still found it hard to receive airplay on MTV.

9. Twist of Cain (Danzig) – Thirty years ago legions of soon-to-be Danzig fans were introduced to the band via the opening notes of “Twist of Cain.” One of the band’s most popular tunes with its fans, “Twist of Cain” ushered in the new sound of the band following the disbanding of Samhain. It was almost entirely different when compared with what Glenn Danzig had output previously. The speed and lo-fi aspects of The Misfits were a thing of the past while the atmospheric elements of Samhain were replaced with a total tear-down of blues-based hard rock. Danzig’s vocals are commanding and strong, aggressive and fierce. A song of rebellion, a common theme of early Danzig, it snakes its way through various riffs and changes covering a lot of ground in its modest run time. It’s hard to imagine the first Danzig record starting any other way.

8. Pain is Like an Animal (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – Of course, the first album could have started with this one. Not that I necessarily think it should have, but this track (supposedly left off from the first album, though the recording on the compilation sounds like a Danzig II or III era track) is one the best hard rock numbers the band ever recorded. It features some great guitar work by John Christ and some excellent percussion by Chuck Biscuits. Like a lot of early Danzig songs, those instruments are front and center with little semblance of Eerie Von’s bass. The vocals sound slightly lo-fi, perhaps because the song was never properly dressed-up for release, but they work with the primal nature of the song’s subject matter. It’s perhaps too up-tempo for the first Danzig album, maybe a song producer Rick Rubin wasn’t a fan of, but it’s hard to argue it couldn’t have made that album even better. Knock off the totally fine, but also just a cover, “The Hunter” for this one and I don’t think you lose anything. The only knock against that first album is it’s sometimes frustratingly restrained, which is made evident when those songs are played live, and this song would have given it another kick in the balls.

7. Cold Cold Rain (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – The crowned jewel of The Lost Tracks of Danzig is “Cold Cold Rain.” It debuted in the late 90s on Eerie Von’s telephone hotline as a little treat for Danzig fans. That low quality recording circulated online for years with fans wanting more, until finally The Lost Tracks of Danzig debuted in 2007. This one was culled from the Lucifuge sessions and it’s another very 50s sounding ballad with an excellent vocal performance by Glenn Danzig. It may have the 50s sound “Blood & Tears” went for, but it’s thicker and louder. Glenn claims in the liner notes that Rubin wasn’t a fan which is why it didn’t make the cut. I’m guessing it basically came down to this song vs “Blood & Tears” and they opted for the slightly more Danzig sounding track. The dry production of that song better fits the album, but it’s still amazing to think that this song could have been on what is an otherwise phenomenal album. It’s because that album is so good that I’m more just happy we now have this one, where as with Danzig 7 I mourn what could have been. Some think this song has been slowed down for release when compared with the old hotline recording. A slightly faster fan mix is on YouTube, and I’m honestly not sure which I prefer. I think it’s silly to try and infer too much from audio that was recorded off of a telephone in the 90s with an actual CD release from 2007, but it’s possible Glenn thought it sounded better a little slower when he revisited it. However you choose to listen to it, it’s one of the band’s best ballads and maybe the best one of them all.

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If you wanted to see the uncut video for “Mother” in a pre YouTube world you basically had to pick up the band’s home video. MTV didn’t like the whole chicken sacrifice thing.

6. Mother (Danzig) – It had to make the top 10. There are some diehards who will turn their nose up at this one because it’s the only song Danzig is really known for within the mainstream. Many bands are regarded as one-hit wonders with that one hit sometimes representing the best of the band, and sometimes not. With Danzig, it’s at least close and if the band was going to be known primarily for one song then “Mother” isn’t a bad one to be known for. It was a big crowd pleaser ever since it was introduced into the setlist, and obviously became the logical closing track after it became a hit upon re-release in 1993. It’s a simple number, with a three-chord progression that could have been lifted from Michael Jackson of all places, with an equally simple structure. The song’s rebellious lyrics impart a sense of danger and mystique and the chorus is the perfect payoff to the verse. John Christ has a suitable solo mid song, before a blistering one during the closing seconds. It’s another restrained Danzig 1 track, because live it’s played just a bit faster and Glenn’s lyrics are delivered with a bit more intensity. It’s understandable that longtime fans can be sick of it at this juncture, but it would be foolish to deny it’s not one of the best Danzig songs.

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The better single from Danzig IV.

5. I Don’t Mind the Pain (Danzig IV) – The better single from Danzig’s fourth album. It could have possibly rode some of that “Mother” momentum that “Cantspeak” otherwise squandered, but it’s also hard to argue this song fit fully into the mainstream rock sound of 94. “I Don’t Mind the Pain” comes in with a plucky, playful tempo with a vocal delivery from Danzig with a touch of softness. It rips into some drum-blasts and more machine-gun guitar ushering in some more malevolent sounding vocals. It all gives way to a pleasant chorus that’s almost poppy. It’s the changes and the approach that make this a challenging single, but with the album having more experimentation on it than any previous Danzig release it likely was never intended to be a bonafide commercial hit. The song’s combination of heaviness and catchiness are what make it the best of Danzig IV. A perfectly splendid vocal performance is the cherry on top, and you can even hear some of that thumping bass on this one too.

4. Tired of Being Alive (Lucifuge) – The title implies a suicidal voice for the song, but the approach is more angry and defiant. A little grumpy, it’s a very up-tempo track that feels quite fresh considering the mid-range of the first album and following the similarly paced “Snakes of Christ” and “Killer Wolf.” I was so excited when this one was brought back into the live show a few years back (now nearly ten years, actually) and it seems the rest of the crowd shared in my enthusiasm. It’s an easy song to bang your head to, and maybe if the title wasn’t so dangerous it could have been a choice for lead single. The song’s approach is rather clean, and there’s some great little flourishes from guitarist John Christ on the chorus. The vocals are layered upon during parts, which also adds some unique color considering the mostly bare bones production approach of Rick Rubin. There’s enough sizzle on top of what is otherwise a really catchy melody to elevate this song almost effortlessly into the spot it’s at on our countdown.

3. Evil Thing (Danzig) – We’re kicking off the top 3 with our last track from the debut album. “Evil Thing” closed that one out and it’s perhaps the most aggressive track on the whole album. It takes the premise of the song and runs with it demonstrating that this is a band you should be afraid of your kids listening to. In the early days of the PTC, this was an easy song to get behind. Glenn’s rapid-fire delivery on the verse feature some of the best lyrics he crafted on the album. The guitar is playful, yet evil, and the drumming is perfectly timed. The vocals are front and center erasing any doubt as to who this band belongs to. This song is what Danzig is all about:  aggression, rebellion, unfiltered. This might be the most “Danzig” song of them all and it’s kind of incredible to me that it ever was removed from the touring set list.

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This girl gets it.

2. Long Way Back From Hell (Lucifuge) – The song that ushered in the more bluesy second album, it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate way to begin what many feel is the band’s best album. “Long Way Back From Hell” features a steady build-up leading to a dive-bomb guitar to kick things off. Danzig’s vocals bring everyone in, spinning a tale wrought from the bayou of warning – be sure you’re willing to come along for the ride with this band, because surely Hell awaits. It’s a tremendous statement following the slower debut album as “Long Way…” brings a speed and intensity that album was lacking in. It’s a song that’s easy to be spellbound by as it forces you to bang your head and thrust your fist along with it. It’s expertly paced, giving listeners a brief break midway before crashing back into the fray with an abrupt, but satisfying, conclusion. Before the final notes have finished reverberating, the riff for the next song comes into being and we’re off and running.

And now, the pick for the Ultimate Danzig song goes to…

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Glenn posing with a blond – it basically could be from any Danzig video, but it is from “Devil’s Plaything.”

Devil’s Plaything (Lucifuge) – The midway point of the now classic second album, “Devil’s Plaything” has all of the ingredients of a classic Danzig tune. It starts off quietly with some light guitar playing and Glenn’s majestic voice. Following a couple bars of that, it blasts into a big guitar riff with melodic, yet relentless, drum-work from Biscuits. The sonic wall backs off slightly to bring in Danzig’s commanding and demonstrative vocals. Another song of danger, the verse gives way to a shouting, no-frills, chorus that rolls along with the percussion. There’s a bridge that re-introduces the lighter guitar work on the song’s intro, before jumping back into the verse/chorus/outro mold to wind things down. If the song is missing anything, it’s a guitar solo during that bridge portion. It does feature the “Whoa-ohs” we know and love, something that’s more of a staple of The Misfits than Danzig, but also something that shows up plenty in this band. It’s authentic approach and structure, combined with the subject matter and vocal delivery, are what makes it the perfect Danzig song. It’s been my favorite for decades now, so I see little reason for a change at this point.

 

Well there you have it, 129 Danzig songs ranked in order of worst to best in celebration of the band’s 30th anniversary. Time will tell if the band will add to this list in any meaningful way. At the time of this writing, we know that a collection of Elvis covers has been recorded and mixed and is just sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting for release. I suspect Glenn is trying to figure out if it makes sense to do a physical release or a digital one to get those songs out there. Whether or not he ever does a proper Danzig album is up in the air. The man will probably keep writing and recording until the day he dies, but it wouldn’t be a shock if he gets so sick of the industry that he loses interest in doing full albums. I’ll be here ready and willing to update this ranking should he put out some new material. And since I’ve also tackled The Misfits and their library of songs, I suppose it would only make sense to do the same for Samhain some where down the road. Thanks for reading and listen to more Danzig!


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!


The Misfits Box Set

The Misfits Box Set (1996)

The Misfits Box Set (1996)

The Misfits came onto the punk scene in the late 1970’s. Founded by Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only, The Misfits embraced the do-it-yourself motto of the punk scene and would record and self-publish numerous EPs during the band’s existence. Following the band’s break-up in the early 80’s, Glenn Danzig would go on to front a new band, Samhain, which would eventually garner a major label record deal and become Danzig. Despite that though, The Misfits refused to die. Danzig would release a few posthumous albums, notably the compilations Legacy of Brutality and Misfits (later referred to as Collection 1). Come the early 90’s and most Misfits albums had been given a CD release via Caroline Records and Danzig’s Plan 9 label. Suddenly, The Misfits were more popular than ever before with the iconic Crimson Ghost becoming a mainstay in concert crowds. A lot of this new-found popularity came in part thanks to Metallica and its cover of classics Misfits tunes “Green Hell” and “Last Caress.” There was new demand for Misfits material, and after being excluded from the more recent releases, Jerry Only and his brother Doyle wanted to get in on the action. There was lots of legal wrangling between the two camps and it all eventually lead to an agreement where both parties would share merchandising rights and Only could resurrect a new version of The Misfits. This also lead to the creation of The Misfits Box Set in 1996, a release meant to compile all of the Misfits recordings lost to time in one box.

It wasn’t until recently that I finally purchased The Misfits Box Set. When the set was released in ’96, I was just getting into The Misfits. As a kid, I didn’t have the capital to fork over for a box set and was forced to grow my Misfits collection in pieces. By the time I was in high school and had a part-time job I already owned all of the albums contained within the box set in their stand-alone version and it no longer made sense for me to purchase the box set. Plus by then the set had been reissued with the newer pressings being decidedly less extravagant than the original. Being the collector that I am today, I finally saw fit to hunt down a first edition box set. I waited a long time for the right set to make itself available, and it finally did. I now own what is arguably the most important Misfits release from the 1990’s and I’m pretty happy with the decision.

The Misfits Box Set was definitely a lot cooler when it came out than it is today due to the original scarcity of the material. Thanks to the internet, Misfits vinyl is a lot easier to come by than it was 20 years ago (though that doesn’t make it cheap) and Caroline has since issued a stand alone version of Static Age that’s superior to what is contained here. When it came out though it was something special. Spread across four discs are Collections 1 and 2 (the latter being brand new at the time), Legacy of Brutality, Evilive, Earth AD/Wolfsblood, Static Age, and the Sessions disc. The only album missing is Walk Among Us, which Caroline did not have the distribution rights for. The gems of this release were certainly the last two discs, Static Age and Sessions.

Static Age was released for the very first time with the box set.

Static Age was released for the very first time with the box set.

Static Age was the first album recored by The Misfits. It’s story is rather interesting as Glenn secured studio time for it when a major label tried to start an offshoot label called Blank Records. Unbeknownst to them, Glenn had already started a label under that name and had secured the trademark. Rather than sell it, he gave it up in exchange for the studio time to make Static Age. After the album’s completion, the band was unable to secure a distribution deal for it. They basically would chop the album up and spread the recordings across a few self-published releases, notably Bullet and Beware. A lot of the songs that were never released would eventually make it onto Legacy of Brutality but with the guitar and bass tracks overdubbed by Danzig (so he didn’t have to pay anyone royalties). Static Age is still my favorite Misfits recording as it’s the band’s most diverse. There are elements of rock, punk, jazz and metal on the release and some of my favorite songs are on it such as “Hybrid Moments” and “Last Caress.” Caroline would release the album as a stand-alone in 1997 with three additional tracks: “She,” “Spinal Remains,” and “In the Doorway.” These tracks were unfinished at the time though “She” was released on Collection 1 and “Spinal Remains” on Legacy of Brutality. All three tracks are awesome, and I particularly enjoy “In the Doorway” which is sort of the forgotten Misfits tune. I don’t know why Caroline did not include them for the box set, but it’s a shame that the Static Age released here is basically incomplete.

The Sessions disc was the other main attraction of the box set and remains so today. A lot of the tracks on this release are from the various seven inch recordings that never made it to disc. It starts off with the two tracks from the first ever Misfits release, Cough/Cool, and presents a very different sound as the band did not feature a guitarist originally. Helping to soften the blow of the missing Walk Among Us tracks are the original Walk Among Us recordings. The band had basically recorded the album before securing a record deal. When they were able to land one with Slash Records the label had the band re-record the entire album. The originals are preserved here, some of which I consider superior to the final album version. I particularly enjoy the slowed down versions of “Violent World” and “I Turned Into a Martian.” The Sessions disc does get repetitive as several songs are featured more than once, but I’d rather the set contain too much as opposed to too little.

Former Samhain and Danzig bassist Eerie Von provided the liner notes for the box set.

Former Samhain and Danzig bassist Eerie Von provided the liner notes for the box set.

The packaging for the box set has changed over the years and the first edition remains the best. The set comes housed in a coffin-shaped box with faux wood grain printed on it. Inside the box is lined with a soft red insert. The discs are stacked in individual cases and a fiend pin is included at the base of the box. A booklet with new artwork is also included. The booklet contains a fairly lengthy biography on the band written by former Misfits photographer and Samhain/Danzig bassist Eerie Von. The booklet contains lot of old pictures of the band and various show flyers while also attempting to be a source for Misfits lyrics and a discography. After the release of the box set, it would be revealed that Glenn Danzig had no involvement with it and the lyrics are just the best guesses of some fans and former members (Danzig would, years later, release his own lyric book with select Misfits tracks) which makes a lot of the material inaccurate.

The discs themselves are rather cool as Caroline spent the few extra bucks to make them special. Since Misfits releases are so short in length, the albums could be consolidated to four discs. Each of the first three discs comes in a hard, glossy, black plastic case with raised lettering. Somewhat understated, but also elegant in its simplicity. Static Age received special treatment as it came in an irregularly sized, hinge-less, case. Opening it on the first try is a bit of a puzzle as its seams are hidden quite well. It slides apart, and inside is a small booklet and the actual disc. The outer case is all black with a large raised visage of the Crimson Ghost on the front and the track list on the back. It’s a unique design and not one I’ve seen repeated elsewhere. Repressings of the box set would be done on the cheap with these special cases replaced with two standard jewel cases, each housing two discs, making the first edition the more special of the two. Content wise, all versions contain the same amount of tracks though the pin was supposed to be excluded from future editions (some fans have reported getting a pin in the reissues meaning Caroline probably kept including them while they still had stock available).

More popular in death than in life, The Misfits legacy will likely live-on as more kids discover the band every day.

More popular in death than in life, The Misfits legacy will likely live-on as more kids discover the band every day.

The legacy of The Misfits is undeniable at this point. Even today, rumors persist of the band reforming for a live performance or new album. The box set was an unquestionably cool release at the time that is less special today thanks to The Misfits being more accessible than ever before. It’s pretty awesome that a band that broke up before I was even born could suddenly be more popular in the 90’s than it was at any time previous, which lead to a new version of The Misfits being born. I was never into Jerry Only’s version of The Misfits, but it is neat that it’s around for those who want it. I have had the pleasure, on more than one occasion, of seeing Danzig together with Doyle perform some of these tracks and it was an experience I’ll likely never forget. For the collector, this box set is pretty much essential and for new fans eager to spend some money it’s also a pretty nice gateway to The Misfits. There’s enough here that a casual fan would never have need to purchase another Misfits disc. Caroline did a good job of making the release (the first edition, anyways) feel special and it’s one of the better box sets I own.


Danzig: The Lost Tracks of Danzig

The Lost Tracks of Danzig (2007)

At this point I have now blogged about every Danzig studio album as well as the few live recordings that exist.  The only two albums I haven’t touched on are the two Glenn Danzig releases under the Black Aria title.  Those two albums are classical pieces and I don’t intend to post about them in any great depth. All I will say on the subject is that the first Black Aria is worth checking out, but the second isn’t.  Even without talking about those records, that’s still a lot of content I’ve covered and there’s still one more to go.

Without question, the most anticipated Danzig release for me since I became a fan in ’98 has been The Lost Tracks of Danzig.  It might sound kind of odd on the surface, as how could a collection of songs deemed not worthy of an album release generate so much excitement?  Credit for that goes to former Danzig bassist Eerie Von who had a short-lived telephone hotline in the 90’s following his departure from the band.  Fans who called up were sometimes treated to clips of unreleased Danzig material that Von had held onto.  I can’t precisely recall just how many songs Von featured, but I do know a track called “Cold, Cold Rain” was one and I needed to hear the rest of it.  “Cold, Cold Rain” is a ballad and one with an old 50’s sound to it.  It was recorded for the album Danzig II: Lucifuge but was omitted, likely in favor of “Blood and Tears.”  It features these awesome Danzig wails that still sounded excellent over a telephone line and I was positively despondent over the fact that I couldn’t hear the whole thing, and perhaps never would.

When Glenn Danzig was doing press for the Samhain Box Set released in 2000 he started talking about doing a Danzig one.  The Danzig one would come in a box shaped like an inverted cross and would contain a bunch of unreleased stuff.  At this time, Glenn had just got the rights to his unreleased stuff from American Recordings, his old label and home to the first four Danzig albums.  It had taken years to get all of that stuff back, but now Glenn knew he was sitting on a bunch of songs that he could probably make some money off of.  Unfortunately for fans, Danzig decided to focus on the home video type stuff at first and put out two DVDs featuring the old music videos from Danzig III and Danzig IV.  Glenn would be asked and would comment on the potential box set for years and years.  Not until he became burned out on touring and album making did he finally focus his attention on what would become The Lost Tracks of Danzig.

The cover for the booklet with artwork by Joe Chiodo is very tongue-in-cheek.

The Lost Tracks of Danzig compilation was finally released in the summer of 2007.  Along the way, the idea of a box set was dropped and instead the album was released on an oversized digibook.  The packaging was kind of like the old CD long-boxes that were around in the 80’s and it housed two discs stored vertically as opposed to a more traditional fold-out design.  On the inside cover was a booklet glued in.  Within that booklet was a bunch of photos of the band through-out it’s existence as well as liner notes for almost every song by Glenn.  These notes are fairly minimal, but most exist for Glenn to offer his opinion on the track and why it never was released in the first place.  There’s also some original artwork on the cover of the booklet by Joe Chiodo.  The exterior design was done by long-time collaborator Simon Bisley.

Not all of the tracks ended up being previously unreleased.  There were a couple that once appeared as B-sides or on non Danzig releases.  “When Death Had No Name” is one such track which was originally released as a B-side for the “Dirty Black Summer” single.  It also appears on this collection twice as it was recorded for both Danzig I and Danzig III (and supposedly, it was recorded for Danzig II as well) with the Danzig III version being the superior one.  The track “Deep” from the X-Files show compilation also appears here, as do a couple of remixes at the end of disc two for “Belly of the Beast” and “Unspeakable.”

Even with a couple of previously released tracks occupying space on this collection, there’s still a ton of stuff that is new to fans.  Both discs are packed pretty much to capacity with 13 tracks apiece.  Disc one spans from 1988 thru 1996, while disc two covers the rest.  Most fans were probably really looking forward to hearing the oldest stuff, but a lot of the songs from the 2000’s are pretty enjoyable as well.

Disc one opens up with a really crunchy, rocking track titled “Pain is Like an Animal.”  Written and recorded for the first Danzig album, it’s easy to see how this up-tempo number didn’t quite fit.  The quality of the recording is a bit lo-fi, but still enjoyable.  This track is somewhat controversial amongst the Danzig fan-base as Glenn’s vocals make it sound like this one was recorded later, perhaps during the Danzig III sessions, but Glenn says otherwise.  It’s quite possible that this one was recorded several times, like “When Death Had No Name,” and Glenn just forgot which recording was which.

This is a mighty fine release, Mr. Danzig, but why did you have to make us wait so damn long?!

The Danzig II tracks are pretty sweet, further cementing my opinion that Danzig II is the band’s best album.  “Angel of the Seventh Dawn” is another rock-heavy tune with some nice blues elements.  It would not sound out of place at all on Danzig II, but maybe Glenn just thought he had better tracks.  “Cold, Cold Rain” did not disappoint me, and it’s a great old-school Danzig ballad.  It’s slow but with a big sound.  It probably would have clashed with “Blood and Tears,” though Glenn says he always liked the song, but producer Rick Rubin did not.  “You Should Be Dying” is unfortunately one of the collection’s low points.  It has a cool “Sabbathy” intro but doesn’t go anywhere with it.  The vocals also sound like they were re-recorded for the collection as that’s just not how Glenn’s voice sounded in 1990.  According to him, though, the only vocals that had to be re-recored for this release were for the song “Come to Silver.”  Even though it’s basically a bad song, the chorus will get stuck in your head.  You have been warned!

Apparently there were few holdovers from Danzig III, or Glenn didn’t see fit to release any others, because it’s one of the more under-represented albums on this compilation.  The previously mentioned “When Death Had No Name” is present from that session, but it’s the same version as the one from the “Dirty Black Summer” single.  A good song, just nothing new.  “Buick McKane” is the only other track from Danzig III and it’s a cover of a T. Rex song.  It’s a pretty standard rock track but it has a cool jam quality to it that makes it stand out amongst Danzig songs.  It was likely intended to be a B-side somewhere down the road or was recorded just for fun.

The Danzig IV era brings about some interesting tracks for this collection.  There’s the joke song “Satan’s Crucifiction” that actually ends up being one of the best songs on this collection.  It was recorded for the sole purpose of messing with the executives at American who wanted to capitalize on the band’s recent break-out success with a record that wasn’t too “satanic.”  It’s a dark and menacing track with great atmosphere.  The lyrics are appropriately cheesy but the song’s a lot of fun.  “The Mandrake’s Cry” is a song best described as filler.  Neither strong nor weak, it was likely an easy omission from the 4p record.  It’s also another track where the vocals sound like they may have been re-recorded, or were just recorded with substandard quality.  “White Devil Rise” is a song recorded in response to Louis Farrakhan and his labeling of the white race as The White Devil.  It’s about  a race war and has a very apocalyptic feel to it.  The song is under-developed though and the chorus is fairly banal and kind of annoying.  It’s one of my least liked tracks on this collection.

The error “groovy” font edition of the album. It’s unclear how many of these were printed off, but they seem fairly rare from what I’ve noticed.

Danzig 5:  Blackacidevil is probably Danzig’s least liked record amongst fans, but the tracks from it on this collection are actually pretty good.  “Come to Silver” isn’t a new song, but this version removes the vocal distortion and other effects and strips it down to just Glenn and an acoustic guitar.  These vocals were re-recorded for this collection as the original masters weren’t usable.  The vocal performance could be described as understated, but it works.  I still prefer the original from Blackacidevil, but this a cool track.  “Deep” is not a new track, as mentioned earlier, but “Warlok” is. It borrows the simple chord progression from “Mother” but adds some fuzz and other effects.  Glenn’s vocals are free of distortion and he sings in a quasi-falsetto voice which works really well.  Short and sweet, “Warlok” is a nice surprise for this collection.

Danzig 6:66 Satan’s Child had over twenty tracks recorded for it but only twelve made it to the final LP.  It’s no surprise that a few tracks made it to this collection.  Kicking off disc 2 is “Lick the Blood Off My Hands” which is a bluesy track but with some industrial elements.  I’m not sure if it’s ever been confirmed if this was a Danzig 5 holdover or one from Danzig 6, it’s not a bad song though.  “Crawl Across Your Killing Floor” is from Danzig 6, though the guitars on this track were done by Todd Youth who would join the band after Danzig 6 was completed.  I’m assuming the song was done, but Glenn wanted to re-do the guitars for an eventual release and had Youth step in.  It’s a pretty bad ass song and one of Glenn’s longest.  Youth’s leads are excellent too.  This is a stand-out track and the only one to receive a music video clip from this collection (the concept for the video was pretty cool, but the execution laughable).  “I Know Your Lie” is another holdover that Glenn claimed he just plain got sick of during the recording of the album.  It’s a decent song, but I can see how Glenn could get annoyed with it.  Rounding out the 6:66 sessions is a cover of The Germs’ “Caught in My Eye.”  Some industrial effects were added and Glenn delivers his vocals with that whisper track adding an eerie quality to the atmosphere.  It works, and the punk vibe is still present for those looking for it.

“Cat People” follows, which was recorded during the Danzig: 777 I Luciferi sessions.  It was intended as a B-side, but was never released until now.  It’s a David Bowie cover that most people probably know today as the song from the film Inglourious Basterds.  It’s quite effective and the song exists mostly to build-up to an explosive second act.  “Bound by Blood,” per Glenn, was a tough omission from Danzig 7 and it’s clear why once heard.  One of my favorites from this collection, it’s an uncharacteristically sweet number from Danzig with some dynamite lead work by Youth once again.  It starts off slow, but rises to explosive levels fairly quickly.  “Who Claims the Soulless” is a pleasant enough track.  The guitar has a nice groove to it, and Joey Castillo’s drums work quite well for this one.  “Malefical” is a brooder.  Not a stand-out number, but not really a weak effort either.  “Dying Seraph” closes things out for I Luciferi and it’s a nice one too.  It has a bit of a jazz feel to it with some nice vocals by Glenn.  The big chorus serves as the cherry on top.

Circle of Snakes has just one representative on here and it’s “Lady Lucifera.”  It’s kind of a typical modern era Danzig track, though the production just doesn’t do it for me.  It’s muddy, like Circle of Snakes, and Glenn’s vocals just aren’t crisp.  Apparently he likes the track a lot, but I could do without.  The last two tracks are likely here just to fill space.  “Underbelly of the Beast” is from The Crow:  Salvation soundtrack and is a remix of “Belly of the Beast” that doesn’t really add much to the original.  “Unspeakable (Shango Mix)” is another remix, though this one was done for the adult film Grub Girl which was based on a character from Glenn’s Verotik publication.  The best thing that can be said for this one is it sounds like background music for a porn film.

In the end, The Lost Tracks of Danzig comes across like a greatest hits collection, even if few of the tracks were ever released!  It’s a great compilation with a surprising amount of quality.  I played the Hell out of this thing when it first came out, and even though there’s a few tracks I don’t particularly care for, it’s still something I like to come back to.  I’d love to hear a few more of these tracks live, but as far as I know, only “Pain is Like An Animal,” “Satan’s Crucifiction,” and “Lady Lucifera” have been played live, and none are played presently.  The collection was released as a two disc CD and also as a 4 LP on 180 gram vinyl and colored vinyl.  The vinyl release contains liner notes for one additional track over the CD version, “Cat People,” and the colored edition sort of varies from a blue to a light purple.  A small number of the CD version were released with an incorrect “groovy” Danzig font that was quickly changed to the traditional one so there’s some items out there for collectors to go after.  This is a set any Danzig fan should pick up, and even fans that checked out following the break-up of the original lineup will probably find material on disc 2 to enjoy.  This was one release that proved to be worth the wait!

Top Tracks

  • Cold, Cold Rain
  • Warlok
  • Bound by Blood

Danzig: Thrall-Demonsweatlive +

Danzig: Thrall-Demonsweatlive (1993)

Last weekend I posted my final review for the Danzig LP’s, but that doesn’t mean I’m done with Danzig!  Far from it, as there’s still a few more items that require attention.  If you’ve been keeping track, I’ve posted a review for all nine studio albums plus a summary of the soundtrack only songs that have seen release over the last 20+ years.  That still leaves the EP’s, The Lost Tracks compilation, and the Black Aria releases; all to be addressed in good time.  This post will take a look at live releases and the EP’s, specifically Thrall-Demonsweatlive.

It might surprise you to know that the two best selling Danzig releases (and the only two to reach gold status) are the 1988 self-titled album and the 1993 EP Thrall-Demonsweatlive.  This is, of course, due to the popularity of the “Mother” track which saw a re-release for radio and MTV when Thrall hit stores.  “Mother” was originally released as a single for the first album, but it struggled to find airplay on mainstream rock radio stations.  It had an even harder time finding an audience with MTV and the network determined the video was “too Satanic” and refused to play it without some editing done.  Danzig balked at censoring the video, so the label instead released a home video (simply titled “Danzig”) that contained all of the music videos shot for the first album as well as some behind the scenes interviews with the band.

Side B of the picture disc release.

In between Danzig III and Danzig IV, Glenn Danzig approached the label about doing an EP.  The label wasn’t too keen on the idea, but according to Glenn he was able to to get them to agree to put one out after pointing out how well Alice in Chains had done with the Jar of Flies EP.  Once the agreement was in place, the band hit the studio in between tours to record a couple of original tracks and one cover.  The two originals ended up being “It’s Coming Down” and “The Violet Fire.”  Joining them for the Thrall portion of the release was a cover of the Elvis tune “Trouble.”  The band had been working on this cover ever since the Samhain days but had never found an appropriate place to release it.  Those three tracks comprised what was called the “Thrall” portion of the release, and were paired up with four live tracks that made up the “Demonsweatlive” part of the album.  These four tracks were all taken from the band’s Halloween gig at Irvine Meadows in 1992, they are:  “Snakes of Christ”, “Am I Demon”, “Sistinas”, and “Mother.”  There’s also one hidden track on most releases, a slightly remixed version of “Mother” often referred to as “Mother ’93.”  To my ears, it doesn’t sound any different than the original version.  It was this version of the song that was made into a new music video featuring nothing but live shots which found an audience on MTV.

The studio tracks on this release are pretty solid, with “It’s Coming Down” becoming a staple of most live setlists ever since.  I personally prefer “The Violet Fire” for its more groove-oriented pacing.  The live tracks are all pretty ferocious and played faster than they were on the albums.  Glenn almost growls the lyrics for most of them, with the exception of “Sistinas” which features his signature croon.  I know a lot of people who prefer the live version of “Sistinas” to the album version, to me, both are excellent.  The live version of “Mother” is superior to the album version as it captures a different kind of energy that really lends itself well to the rebellious lyrics.

Danzig: Live on the Black Hand Side (2001)

The rest of the setlist from the Irvine Meadows show would pop up here and there one track at a time on various singles.  The majority of it would be released on 2001’s Live on the Black Hand Side.  Live on the Black Hand Side is Danzig’s only other live release and the band’s only full-length live album.  It’s a two disc set that captures the band’s peak in the mid 90’s as well as the Satan’s Child tour from 2000.  Disc 1 is split between the Irvine show and a Seattle show from the 4p tour.  The track-listing is like a greatest hits album, and the first disc is a nice piece to own.  Disc 2, on the other hand, is a disaster.  The audio quality, perhaps because the shows took place in smaller venues, is garbage.  The track-list is pretty solid, though there are a couple clunkers, but the quality ruins it.  Glenn’s vocals are often hard to make out and the band sounds thin.  Live on the Black Hand Side can be a tough album to track down these days, but is only worth doing so for the hardcore.

Danzig: Sacrifice (EP, 2000 E-Magine release)

The only other EP put out by Danzig is the Sacrifice EP.  It was originally released as a single that contained six tracks, all remixes of the of the song “Sacrifice.”  It was re-released in 2000 by E-Magine with additional tracks added; remixes of “Deep” and “Serpentia.”  The original version did have a limited vinyl pressing for you completists out there, while the re-release was CD only.  It’s a release for the hardcore only, as none of the remixes improve upon the original songs, and in the case of both “Deep” and “Serpentia,” the original song wasn’t that great to begin with.

Thrall-Demonsweatlive is a must own for Danzig fans.  The studio tracks are solid and the live ones entertaining.  It was released on CD and cassette initially, but also had a German picture disc release that can be hard to track down these days.  The front cover of all of the releases features artwork by Simon “Biz” Bisley who would go on to do a lot of illustrations for Danzig.  The reverse image of the picture disc features a bare-chested Glenn Danzig from Irvine Meadows, an image also included inside the CD booklet.  The booklet for Live on the Black Hand Side features dozens of live shots from throughout the band’s existence and is arguably the best thing about the release.  The front cover is atrocious though and very amateurish.  There’s not much noteworthy to say about the packaging for any of the Sacrifice releases, save for it does include that image of Glenn spreading his arms melded with the skull logo.


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