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Verotika (2019)

verotika

Verotika (2019)

Say what you will about the various art Glenn Danzig has released to the public, but the man should be admired for doing what he wants with said art. At a young age, Danzig decided he wanted to be a musician and for over 40 years he’s been committed to that industry. Along the way he’s taken risks, both creatively and commercially, and some have worked out well financially and some have not. Always though, he’s stayed true to his own vision and rarely does it feel like he’s ever compromised that vision.

In the mid-90s, Danzig decided he had other pursuits he wanted to undertake. He launched his own comic book publishing company and named it Verotik. Verotik specialized in horror and hyper sexualized stories that the main publishers in the world of comics would never touch. Around the same time, he also started poking around the world of Hollywood eventually taking a small role in the film The Prophecy II in which he was almost comically dispatched of in a few seconds of screen time. It was also around this time he was boasting about being sought for the role of Wolverine in a future X-Men film, though how serious such overtures were at the time are unknown.

For who knows how long, Danzig has wanted to climb into the director’s chair and oversee the creation of his own film. In 2019, that dream came true. And true to Danzig’s musical legacy, his film is undoubtedly uncompromised and the film Glenn Danzig wanted to make. Verotika is a horror anthology film based on properties launched by Danzig’s comic line. Some of the stories are more or less taken right from the page and adapted for the big screen. In creating the film, Danzig formed a partnership with Cleopatra Entertainment in what looks to be a multi-film deal. The movie was released in June of 2019 in very limited amounts, basically just special screenings attended by Danzig himself in high profile markets like LA and New York.

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Glenn Danzig steps off the stage and into the director’s chair and appears to be pretty happy with the end result.

Verotika was never screened in a city near me so I never had to make the perhaps difficult decision of whether or not to attend. The film has been nearly universally panned by critics with the often repeated comparison being that this is The Room of horror films. That doesn’t mean all of the reviews have been necessarily negative. Some expressed that film is not good, but it’s charmingly bad in ways that some of the most awesomely bad movies are. The film is low budget and full of the sex and violence that appeals to Danzig. The cast is populated by trained actors and actresses as well as veterans of the adult film industry, so I think anyone familiar with Danzig’s work likely has a good idea of what kind of experience they’re in for.

As a longtime fan of Glenn Danzig’s music, I felt like I basically owed it to myself to watch this film. I love the music of Danzig, but my fandom has largely ended there. What little of Verotik I thumbed through rarely appealed to me. Danzig’s directorial efforts with his music videos are mostly bad, and I basically assumed that I am going to dislike this film. Maybe I’ll be able to laugh at it, but I don’t know. I’m not the type of person that enjoys watching bad movies typically. At least with Verotika I’m signing up for an anthology that totals just 90 minutes, so it’s not a huge investment of time and there is a built in mechanism to reset my attention span. And even though I have in some ways dreaded viewing this film, I know my curiosity is too much to ignore so when the film went up for pre-order on Amazon I placed my order and waited.

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Fans of the Verotik comics will likely get a thrill out of seeing these characters come to life on the big screen. Here we have Morella played by Kayden Kross.

Verotika arrived and alongside it came an unexpected surprise. The physical release for the film is the standard Blu Ray and DVD combo, but it also includes a CD soundtrack as well which is pretty cool. It’s not a particularly great soundtrack, and the only Danzig track is the previously released “Eyes Ripping Fire,” but it’s still a nice gesture. The soundtrack is also available separately on vinyl, for interested parties. I settled into watch this one, and since it is an anthology film, it presents nice opportunities for breaks during the feature. There are three segments and they are:  The Albino Spider of Dajette, Change of Face, and Drukija:  Contessa of Blood. There’s a framing device in-between them all hosted by Morella (Kayden Kross) in a Vampira-like role as she introduces the macabre to come while some hapless girl (Noelle Ann Mabry, with possibly the best performance of the entire film) is tortured.

Women being victimized by other women seems to be the name of the game in this film. All three stories feature that in some capacity, though in the first segment the woman, Dajette (Ashley Wisdom), is inadvertently harming women. I was prepared for a lot of things when I sat down to watch this. I knew there would be gore, I expected plenty of nude women, and I also anticipated some unintentional comedy on account of the fact that this is a relatively low budget film. What I did not anticipate was boredom. Yes, Verotika is a bad movie, but as far as awesomely bad is concerned I’m not sure I’d classify this as such. There’s a lot of bad acting, and what’s not helping the actors out is the need to utilize accents in two of the three segments. The script is poor and at times laughable, but not gratuitously so. It’s a just a lot of wooden scenes surrounded by poor lighting, hollow audio, and irrational editing. There’s even a shot where a corpse blinks and it’s confusing how something like that makes it into the final cut of any film.

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Dajette and the spider that haunts her.

The three stories ask very little of the audience. Only the first felt the least bit ambitious as it concerns a woman, who when sleeps unleashes some sort of spider-demon on the populace. The spider wants to mate and kill in that order, and our protagonist needs to come up with a way to stop it. The segment relies way too much on actress Ashley Wisdom who is not up to task. The spider (Scotch Hopkins) does better, but the script gives him little to work with. He’s also burdened by some ambitious prosthetics that really aren’t all that bad, but could have been helped out with better lighting choices.

That segment might actually be the most narratively sound as the other two leave a lot to be desired. “Change of Face” follows the not very mysterious Mystery Girl (Rachel Alig) as she goes around cutting the faces off of young women and then masquerading as a stripper during the night. A detective pursues her, but is laughably played by Sean Kanan and hard to take serious. This segment features the most padding as on three occasions it resorts to extended segments of strippers performing their routine in a rather mundane fashion. Verotika would actually disappoint in the titillation department if stumbled upon at two AM on Cinemax.

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Verotika is not particularly gory, but it does bring the blood by the tub-full.

The third segment is even more droll as it casts Alice Tate (who performs quite well under the circumstances) as Drukija, an Elizabeth Bathory type who poaches young girls from a village to bathe in their blood. She one-ups the countess by also feasting on the heart of a young girl. The story has no pay-off and is more of a fetish as we watch Drukija murder several young women. It takes place in a medieval setting so the costumes are a bit interesting and her ceremonial bathing apparatus is certainly a sight to see, but it offers little else.

Verotika is neither sexy, nor particularly gory. There is a lot of blood in some scenes, but the most gratuitous probably occurs during the film’s opening minutes. The film is not thought-provoking and it isn’t interested in exploring much of anything. And at 90 minutes it overstays its welcome by a lot. It’s hard to even pick which segment is the superior one. The concept of the spider is the most complex, while the “Change of Face” segment is the most procedurally ambitious as it attempts to present a murder-mystery thriller, but it really just exposes the weakness of the talent on hand. I guess the third is the best by default since it’s at least visually interesting and presents a decent premise. It just doesn’t move beyond its premise and could easily have been half as long. Or better yet, it could have just been a music video.

Glenn Danzig not only wrote and directed this picture, but he also provided the score. If you’re familiar with his Black Aria albums then it should sound mostly familiar. There are a few moments where I liked what I was hearing, but for the most part it’s forgettable. The licensed tracks are largely reserved for the stripper scenes, and in that respect they work fine. They’re not particularly sexy, but it’s not like Danzig was going to pay Rick Rubin to utilize “She Rides.”

Obviously I did not enjoy my time with Verotika. That doesn’t change what I started off with though. This is a film made by Glenn Danzig for Glenn Danzig. He’s gone around the country and personally shown this film to audiences and he appears to be quite proud of it. I can only assume that this is the film he wanted to make. And that is great. I wish I could put myself in position to pursue my own art in such a fashion, so even though I didn’t enjoy it I still applaud the man for the film he created. There’s just no way I’m going to seek out his next film.


Dec. 1 – Aqua Teen Hunger Force – “Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future”

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Aqua Teen Hunger Force – “Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future” originally aired on December 29, 2002

Welcome back to The Christmas Spot! It’s that time of year once again when this blog takes a break from the usual and turns into your very own Christmas advent calendar of holiday goodness, and some badness. Starting today, it’s nothing but Christmas specials until the big day, and to kick off this year’s installment it seemed appropriate to tackle the episode “Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future” from the Adult Swim original Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force was created by the duo of Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro and was one of the inaugural shows featured on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block in 2001. The show follows three anthropomorphic fast food items:  Master Shake (Dana Snyder), Frylock (Carey Means), and Meatwad (Dave Willis). At first, the trio are a mystery solving team, but that premise is pretty much dropped after a few episodes and the show is essentially about nothing. It’s random and absurd with the bad-natured Master Shake often trying to enrich himself at the expense of his roommates, Meatwad and Frylock. Their neighbor Carl (Willis) is a frequent victim of their various schemes and they often attract the attention of weirdos, freaks, and aliens who seek to do harm. Crudely animated and briskly paced, each episode is essentially 11 minutes of surreal comedy. Most of the time it works and it’s really funny, though there are some duds in there that swing and miss badly. The show ran for 139 episodes and even spawned a movie making it one of Adult Swim’s most successful shows.

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Carl has a ghost problem.

Closing out the first season is this episode, “Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future.” That mouthful of a title refers to a new character introduced in this episode, the actual Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future (Maiellaro), heretofore simply referred to as ghost or robot because I am already sick of typing out that title. The ghost first shows up at the episode’s open haunting Carl’s house. In February. Yes, this may be a sort of Christmas special but it doesn’t take place at Christmas for the sake of comedy. At first, the ghost is just annoying as he keeps telling stories about the past accompanied by an unusual amount of smoke. He shows Carl his Christmas as a child when his poor, dirtbag, of a father had nothing but carpet samples to give him as a gift. He couldn’t even play with them as the samples were also Christmas dinner. The scene is actually reminiscent of Scrooged and the flashback to Christmas past from that film.

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Carl’s unfortunate childhood.

Carl is not exactly thrilled about being haunted by a ghost robot, but he becomes really annoyed when the ghost fills his prized above ground swimming pool with blood. Apparently, the blood is actually elf blood and at this point the neighbors enter the episode to question Carl about the blood-filled pool and the weird, annoying, robot. The ghost is happy to tell them about why the pool has been filled with elf blood, but not before first suggesting they pull up a few chairs and some snacks. He regales them with a story about the origins of Santa Claus, who was once a great, red, ape named Sir Santa of Claws. He constructed crude toys and hurled them at other apes. There’s also lots of defecation, as the robot points out. This Claws came into contact with some martian elves, that he enslaved and defecated upon and the story goes on and on. Eventually, everyone either gets annoyed or falls asleep. All except Meatwad who seems both horrified and captivated by the story.

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The ghost is eager to tell his tale, but warns that any who listen will likely want to get a snack first.

At this point, Carl just wants to know how he can make the blood in his pool go away. The ghost tells him he needs to give of himself to the great, red, ape in space. And by give of himself, he means sexually. Carl, surprisingly, doesn’t seem mad as he deadpans a “wonderful” response to the request. We then time-jump to the next day (presumably) and Frylock and Carl are discussing him selling the house. Frylock asks if he considereds just doing what the robot said, but Carl is pretty adamant about not getting raped by a gorilla in space and I can’t say I blame him. He mentions he has somebody coming over to look at the house, then tells Frylock to go away so he can take a shower. He heads off to do just that, then comes running out of the bathroom horrified and covered in blood. Frylock tells Carl he can just shower at their house, but he’s about as excited about “gettin’ nude in your house,” as he is about the space monkey.

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Santa Claws!

Carl is then shown giving a tour of the house to his respective buyer, and it is none other than Glenn Danzig who is voicing himself. We’ve covered quite a bit of Danzig material this year at The Nostalgia Spot so it seems only fitting we should cover his foray into animation this Christmas, no? Danzig is illustrated as being a shirtless guy in black pants and he’s pretty intrigued about a house that bleeds. His only concern really is if the robot can make the blood flow up the walls, and the robot pops in to assure he can. He’s also in love with the idea of a swimming pool filled with blood. He’s not a good house-buyer as he’s clearly let on to Carl that he wants the place, and when he asks for a price Carl just throws out a million and Danzig happily accepts. Carl is overjoyed, a rare occurrence on this show as he usually ends up dead or something at the end of most episodes.

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Shake has the right idea.

Sometime later, Master Shake is looking out the window at the house formerly owned by Carl and sees Danzig heading over. He tells everyone in the house to scatter as the door is pounded upon by the muscled musician. Shake cheerfully opens the door and offers food from their “Haunted Kitchen!” and Meatwad goes into a lame routine of turning the lights on and off while wailing “Daaaaaaaanziiiiiiiiig! You want something to eaaaaat?” Not amused, Danzig goes into a rant. His robot ran away and he’s the source of the house’s blood so Danzig is quite ticked off that he’s not around. He warns Shake that if he’s hiding that robot there will be Hell to pay, in more words or less. After he leaves, Shake is relieved and the ghost robot pops into the image. He announces that he hates living with Danzig and finds him annoying. Plus, he never wears a shirt. Shake doesn’t care and simply demands that the robot make their house bleed right now and then we cut to the end credits.

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Looks like Carl has miraculously found a buyer for his bleeding house in Glenn Danzig.

So this one really isn’t much of a Christmas special. It contains a really wild tale about the origins of Santa Claus, though it will be admitted in later episodes that the ghost who spins this tale knows nothing of the past and isn’t even from the future. Like many characters on this show he’s just insane. Carl is the victim, as he often is, throughout most of the episode but actually ends up doing well in the end. The main characters of Shake, Meatwad, and Frylock actually don’t have much to do since the ghost’s story takes up so much of the meager 11 minute runtime.

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Danzig isn’t too happy when his robot runs away. Seems like we’re overdue for a follow-up episode about a rocker and his search for his beloved robot.

There’s no denying that, as a Christmas special designed to make you have those warm, fuzzy, feels “Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future” comes up woefully short as there’s really no Christmas spirit to be found at all. How much you enjoy the episode depends on your brand of humor, and if you’re amused by the Glenn Danzig cameo (which I obviously am). Danzig apparently wrote a lot of his own lines and if you’ve ever heard him rant in an interview or on stage then that probably doesn’t surprise you as his rant at the episode’s end is very much on brand. The episode is animated crudely so it’s not particularly attractive, but there’s value in the crudeness and humor as well. I find this one funny, and it’s short enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome (though the intentionally long back story of Santa does toe the line) so I can give this one a solid recommendation.

And if you’re looking to catch this one on television this year then you may be in luck. Adult Swim is pretty good at airing its various Christmas specials throughout December. Since this one is so old and from the pre-HD era they may bypass it. In that case, it appears to be streaming for free at adultswim.com and finding it online isn’t particularly hard either. It was also released on DVD as part of Volume 2 of the show (even though it was considered a season one episode) and getting that set probably won’t set you back much. If you liked reading this though then come back tomorrow when we’ll have another Christmas special to talk about, and I promise it will be a bit more “Christmasy” next time. See you then!


Danzig – Lyrics of the Left Hand Vol. II

danziglyricsv2Consider this a book-end to the coverage of Danzig’s 30th anniversary from a couple of weeks back. During my write-up for that, a celebration of all of Danzig’s original songs, I made a comment about one entry in particular (“Halo Goddess Bone”) where I mentioned how it would be neat to know just what Glenn is saying. I openly hoped it would be included on the then upcoming Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand Volume II, which was slated for release in August. Well, that volume is now available and wouldn’t you know, “Halo Goddess Bone” was indeed included.

Lyrics of the Left Hand Vol. II is the follow-up to Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand, which arrived almost 10 years ago. It’s a Verotik issue, Glenn Danzig’s publishing company that typically specializes in erotic-horror type comics, and both are illustrated by Simon Bisley, who has been an artist in the comic’s industry for decades and has also made numerous contributions to Danzig releases over the years, most famously the cover for Thrall: Demonsweatlive. The impetus for the original release was simply to get a bunch of lyrics into the hands of the fans. During Danzig’s career with The Misfits, his releases seldom contained lyrics and the actual content of those songs has been debated amongst fans for years. Samhain only produced lyrics for its first and third releases, and even the band Danzig omitted lyrics from later releases as well as anything that was limited to an EP or single. 2007’s The Lost Tracks of Danzig only added to the amount of songs without lyrics, so there was plenty of material to fill a comic, if so desired. Danzig’s approach ended up being a bit less ambitious. He handpicked songs from all three bands and then had Bisley do a black and white illustration for each song. Basically, you open the soft-bound book and you have an image on the left and the words on the right.

Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand may have been smaller in scope than fans wanted, but it was still appreciated. It wasn’t printed in huge numbers, nor was it so limited that fans had a hard time getting it and Verotik still prints small batches for release at concerts and to sell through its eBay store. The presiding feeling on that initial release was a thirst for more. Fans tend to want to know everything, and so long as there are no official lyrics for even a single song they’ll keep asking for it. A second volume seemed like a no-brainer, but it still took several years to happen, and it underwent a pretty significant change as well.

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Artist Simon Bisley has been a frequent collaborator with Danzig for decades.

I think I pre-ordered the new book back in April or May. At the time, it was titled Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand Vol. II. I purchased it through an online comic book store that ended up pre-selling out and hasn’t bothered to restock the item or take further orders. By the time it was released, the title had changed to simply Lyrics of the Left Hand Vol. II, and that’s because this time out the book contains the lyrics for songs that were previously unavailable but also some that were. It’s a bit disappointing, as I don’t need another source for the lyrics to “Killer Wolf,” especially when there are so many songs still outstanding. The counter-argument to that is you’re getting a piece of art to go with those lyrics, but no disrespect to the work of Simon Bisley, I’m primarily interested in this for the lyrics. The full list of songs included is below:

  • Last Ride
  • Black Laden Crown
  • Devil on Hwy 9
  • But a Nightmare
  • Skull Forrest
  • 1,000 Devils Reign
  • i Luciferi
  • Black Mass
  • Halo Goddess Bone
  • Killer Wolf
  • Her Black Wings
  • Am I Demon
  • November’s Fire
  • I Am Misery
  • Archangel
  • Devilock
  • Bloodfeast
  • Braineaters
  • Halloween
  • London Dungeon
  • Who Killed Marilyn?
  • Come Back

The book begins with a little foreword by Glenn Danzig that summarizes how the book came to be. The text is gray on black and kind of fuzzy, but the font size is large enough that it’s not too hard to read. For the actual lyrics, the font is in white which is a much better choice. As for the lyrics themselves, it’s not surprising to see a lot of later day Danzig material since those booklets either skipped some songs or excluded them entirely (in the case of the most recent album). I noticed only a typo or two. The cover is cardstock and glossy and the black pages do have that tendency to acquire fingerprints, but all in all, it looks quite nice.

verotik samples

Verotik released a few promotional images ahead of the book’s release.

As for the actual illustrations, your enjoyment of them will likely vary from song to song. A lot are a duplicative of each other as several contain one, or all, of the following: breasts, demons, a Danzig caricature, skulls. The illustration for “Last Ride” is just the cover art for the single, and “November’s Fire” is basically a reinterpretation of the cover art to Samhain III. My least favorite might be “i Luciferi” which is just a Glenn caricature with a flaming hand – it’s a bit dull. “Halo Goddess Bone” is also just a feminine skeleton that also happens to have huge breasts, despite having no flesh anywhere else, which looks more silly than sexy. All of the illustrations are done in black and white, and some have more of a sketch quality than others. I personally like that look, but if you’re into full-color illustrations then you might be let down.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are some that are pretty neat and it’s a shame they couldn’t be leveraged for a single release or something. “Devil on Hwy 9” is kind of funny in that it’s a demonic character just giving the finger to a cop. There’s a subtle, really nice, horizon in background of the image that almost gets lost. It’s the rare humorous image. The picture for “Halloween” is almost wickedly cute. It features a Bisley version of the Jack-o-lantern from the single cover with a burning, hanging, body in the foreground. Three little trick-or-treaters are looking on and one is a Misfits ghost, a Samhain ghost, and a little Danzig demon. “I Am Misery” doesn’t really fit with my interpretation of the lyrics at all, but the image is still pretty cool. It’s a girl (Death? Misery?) spreading open a cloak and inside are the faces of various killers and tyrants from history. “Who Killed Marilyn?” includes a depiction of the famous crime scene with the Kennedy brothers looking on. I don’t want to run through too many of them since the surprise is part of the enjoyment, but those ones stuck out the most. “1,000 Devils Reign” was also pretty damn cool and is probably the busiest of the Bisley illustrations.

With a release like this, you probably know if you’re going to get it or not at the moment you find out it exists. For hardcore fans of Glenn Danzig’s music, it’s practically essential. The MSRP is $24.95, though I found it for sale for $19.99. Getting it is a bit of challenge as I don’t know of many places selling it outside of Verotik’s eBay store. Their copies seem to go up for sale every other day and usually sell out. They’ve mostly been selling signed copies as well, which is cool if you want Danzig’s signature on your book, but less cool if you don’t want to pay an extra $15 for such a thing. I’m not sure if they put up unsigned copies for MSRP. Some of their proceeds do go to charity, so that’s pretty cool. Comparing this release with the first, which I never did a write-up on, I would say it’s of the same quality. I’m not sure which has the better illustrations, but they’re comparable. This one is less exciting since several of the songs have had their lyrics released in the past, but at least there are a few here that I personally have wanted lyrics to (in particular; “Halo…”, “Devilock,” and “I Am Misery”). If you’re a fan and want these lyrics, get it. If you never cared about the lyrics to the songs anyway, then I’m surprised you read this far.

 

 


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 Ultimate Danzig Song Ranking – Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


The Ultimate Danzig Song Ranking – Part I

danzig_bannerThis day marks the 30th anniversary of the self-titled debut album of Danzig. It was thirty years ago that the album was unleashed by then label Def American alongside Geffen Records. So shaken up by the imagery and subject matter of the group was executive David Geffen that Geffen’s logo didn’t appear on the release. Which is kind of amusing as the album isn’t what many would consider controversial in this day and age featuring no profanity or overly violent lyrics, but this was a different time.

The album has gone on to be the best-selling record released by the group and the only LP to go platinum. It did not happen overnight and most of its success is attributed to a surge in popularity for the song “Mother” which was re-released as a single in 1993 to promote the EP Thrall-Demonsweatlive. As my favorite band, this blog tends to celebrate all things Danzig related, so marking this milestone makes sense. You may recall I ranked all of the albums Glenn Danzig was involved with back in April to mark the 400th post on this blog. Last Halloween, a similar ranking for all of the songs recorded by The Misfits was also done. The Misfits, with Glenn Danzig at the helm, lasted approximately six years spanning from 1977 to 1983. As a result, I only had to rank 50 or so songs. Danzig has understandably output more since it has existed five times as long. I count 129 unique songs that need to be ranked making this largely an exercise in futility, but that’s never stopped me before!

How did I arrive at that total, you may be wondering. Well, I’m not considering live recordings since that would be silly and duplicative. I am also not counting remixes and only considering the original version of a given song. This mostly affects Danzig 5 era tracks which largely aren’t that great to begin with. I also decided to exclude covers. While you may argue that some of Danzig’s covers offer a unique take on an old song, they’re still not exactly Danzig songs. This eliminates the entire Skeletons album and also disqualifies the following:  The Hunter, Trouble, Hand of Doom: Version, Buick McKane, Cat People, Caught in my Eye. I’m also not counting the song credited to Glenn Danzig and the Power and Fury Orchestra, which was “You and Me (Less than Zero)” from the Less Than Zero motion picture soundtrack. While the orchestra was basically the band Danzig, minus bassist Eerie Von, it wasn’t credited to the band so I won’t rank it (even though it’s a fantastic track). And lastly, I’m not going to rank the instrumental intro songs that appear on I Luciferi and Circle of Snakes and I’m also counting “Pyre of Souls: Incanticle” and “Pyre of Souls:  Seasons of Pain” as one song. Hopefully these ground rules are not too complicated or controversial. With each ranking I’ll include the easiest way to find the song, not necessarily the first. Some songs debuted on singles, but were eventually released on a re-issue or as part of The Lost Tracks of Danzig. With that all out of the way though, let’s get to the music:

129. Don’t Be Afraid (Blackacidevil 2000 re-issue) – The dubious one. The one that is considered the absolute worst. “Don’t Be Afraid” was originally released on a promotional sampler for Danzig 5 and later included on the E-Magine re-issue. It’s basically a noise track, with a simple electronic beat and instrumentation moving things along as Danzig sings over it with vocals so distorted they’re basically unintelligible (aside from when he repeats the song’s title over and over). If you were excited to hear this one for the first time after getting that 2000 re-issue then boy were you disappointed.

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Danzig enjoys seductive snake girls.

128. Serpentia (Blackacidevil) – The worst track from Danzig’s worst album, as originally released. “Serpentia” is mostly just annoying, an attempt to be sexually charged with snake imagery. Danzig’s vocals are not distorted, but they’re also not very good. The song is poorly paced and feels half-baked. Somehow, the various remixes that followed are even worse.

127. Sadistikal (Danzig IV) – This one is less a song and more an intermission for Danzig IV. It’s largely industrial, serving I suppose as a preview of sorts for Danzig 5, and it offers little value aside from the mood it attempts to create. Danzig’s lyrics come across as corny and cliche, so it’s debatable if it really works as an intermission. The worst track on the best album.

126. Lady Lucifera (The Lost Tracks of Danzig) – A holdover from Circle of Snakes, “Lady Lucifera” is a song Danzig claims to love and I’ve encountered a few fans that seem to enjoy it, but I find it repulsive. Muddy, plodding, instrumentation with a weird vocal delivery. The song just meanders round and round without going anywhere. It sounds more like a concept than a fully realized song.

125. East Indian Devil (Kali’s Song)(Satan’s Child) – The most industrial track of Danzig’s sixth album is also its worst. The vocals are largely indecipherable and there’s no real hooks or chorus present. Not sure why it made the album over better songs.

124. Blackacidevil (Blackacidevil) – There’s some disagreement over how this song title is pronounced. Some read is as “Black as a devil” and others as “Black acid evil.” The pronunciation of it in the actual song sounds to me like it is “Black acid devil.” I just call it crap. The only compliment I can pay it is the song has a build to it and increases with intensity the longer it goes, but it lacks a true crescendo to really pay it off. Otherwise, just more Danzig 5 fuzz junk with camp lyrics.

123. White Devil Rise (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – Banal and simple, “White Devil Rise” sounds like an alt-right anthem these days. The less said the better.

122. Into the Mouth of Abandonment (Satan’s Child) – This one is similar to “Sadistikal” in that it feels more like an intermission track than a true song. This one tries a bit harder and since it’s past the midway point of the record it probably wouldn’t qualify as an intermission anyway. It’s simple and mostly understated, slightly notable for being the rare Danzig cut to actually contain the word “fuck.” We’re gradually moving away from the songs that are truly poor to the ones that just aren’t particularly noteworthy.

121. Hint of Her Blood (Blackacidevil) – A slow, brooding song. The lyrics are less camp and more traditional Danzig. It’s sort of like our previous entry, “Into the Mouth of Abandonment,” but without the explosive moments, so maybe I should have actually ranked that one ahead of this one. I guess I like the subject matter here a little more, both songs are rather boring in the end.

120. Bleedangel (Blackacidevil 2000 reissue) – The other original track added to the reissue of Blackacidevil, “Bleedangel” is better than “Don’t Be Afraid,” though it’s another song that kind of goes no where. It’s rather atmospheric and at least it doesn’t feature heavily distorted vocals, but what’s there also isn’t all that exciting. The most interesting thing about this song is that at one point in time it was supposed to be released as a single, and according to then bassist Josh Lazie, that single was going to include a cover of The Misfits classic “Bloodfeast.” It never happened, and many doubt that cover actually exists anywhere since no one else has been able to confirm its existence.

119. Power of Darkness (Blackacidevil) – Disco Danzig! This song is straight-up techno garbage. I guess if you like techno maybe you would like this song. I suppose it’s rather danceable. I personally never needed to hear Danzig tackle this genre.

118. You Should be Dying (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – Supposedly left off of Lucifuge, this is one of the tracks from the Lost Tracks compilation that sounds like the vocals were re-recorded for that release. It definitely doesn’t sound like Glenn Danzig circa 1990. Regardless, I don’t think even a vintage vocal performance would save this one. It has a decent, very Sabbath-like riff going for it during the intro, but then it devolves into nothing. Very bland, and the chorus is kind of annoying. A rare clunker on disc 1 of that set.

117. Hellmask (Circle of Snakes) – “Hellmask” marks the return of Glenn Danzig’s “Cookie Monster” vocals. Lots of screaming, and the mix makes it sound like Glenn is battling with the guitar and drums for audio supremacy on the track, and losing. He hasn’t really revisited that sound since.

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Danzig also enjoys six foot cat women. I’m not kink-shaming, I swear!

116. Wicked Pussycat (I Luciferi) – “Wicked Pussycat” contains a very modern, nu-metal sound for 2002. The subject matter is cartoonish even by Danzig’s standards, and the rap-rock chorus is kind of embarrassing. There is a catchiness to it, I suppose, but it’s not something I return to often.

115. Invocation/Demon’s Call (Danzig IV) – The title of this one is confusing. For years it was referred to as “Invocation,” though I’m not sure if Glenn himself ever confirmed it. When mp3 distribution showed up, Apple listed it as “Demon’s Call” in iTunes and I have no idea where they got that title. It’s all confusing because this is an unlabeled bonus track from Danzig IV, track 66. It’s a classic bonus track in that it’s experimental and kind of weird, which is on purpose. Those were kind of the best bonus tracks as they were a fun little treat for those who left their CD player on after the last song. This one is basically a hymn, and it’s about a demon that seduces its victims. It’s basically just Danzig’s heavily layered vocals and an electric organ. Pretty cool, a little creepy, and mostly fun though it’s also not likely to be anyone’s favorite song due to its unique nature.

114. I Know Your Lie (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – Another leftover from Danzig 6, this one was probably left off of the final release because it sounds very similar to “Five Finger Crawl.” Had it been on the album it would have been a filler track, neither good nor bad, which is what it is on The Lost Tracks of Danzig.

113. My Darkness (Circle of Snakes) – So I kind of hate this one, but also kind of love it. I never seem to enjoy hearing it, but it gets stuck in my head. It’s also really annoying, but also fairly catchy. I didn’t know where to rank this and honestly considered it more towards the back, but it’s fine right here.

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A band still from the “Circle of Snakes” video. It’s mostly the band posing menacingly while snake girls do their thing.

112. Circle of Snakes (Circle of Snakes) – This is like a sludge version of “Twist of Cain.” Riffs and song structure are similar, though it lacks that bridging second chorus. I mostly hate the guitar tone on this album, and this song in particular.

111. 7th House (Blackacidevil) – This song may have been okay if it wasn’t so distorted. It’s basically like “Brand New God” if that song just stayed with the up-tempo, thrash sound it starts with. The lyrics are pretty stupid though, so maybe the distortion helps there. It’s one of the songs from Danzig V that works a lot better live than it does on the album.

110. God of Light (I Luciferi) – I dislike this song less now than I did in 2002. It used to annoy me, and it still possesses a rather weak chorus, but when I listen to it now I appreciate the odd time signature of it because it’s very different from basically every other Danzig song. I’m ranking it as high as I am because of that uniqueness, though it’s still one of the weaker tracks on Danzig 7.

109. Apokalips (Satan’s Child) – This song has a good structure to it. It starts slow, slightly quiet, and then ratchets that up when the chorus kicks in. There’s a dense bottom-end, and the production helps add to the apocalyptic atmosphere the lyrics are going for. The problem then? The vocals. They’re oddly pitched and Glenn’s voice is borderline annoying at times. There was supposedly a lot of post-production nonsense done on Glenn’s voice, as he stated at the time he tried to achieve a sound closer to how he hears himself, so maybe that’s what is going on here. Whatever the case, it doesn’t work.

108. Skin Carver (Circle of Snakes) – Frustratingly, the song that has been opening every Danzig show since 2004. It’s a head-banger, and most concert openers are designed to fire up the crowd and set the tone, there’s just so many other songs in the Danzig catalog that work better. The silly whisper first chorus does nothing for the song’s mood, and the shouting version that follows is just kind of dull. It’s just the song’s title, over and over. I do like Tommy Victor’s guitar work on this one, and the bass is thunderous, it’s the other parts that lag.

107. Night Star Hel (Deth Red Sabaoth) – Our first song from 2010’s Deth Red Sabaoth is that album’s most boring song. It’s not terrible, but it’s very reminiscent of the lower points from the preceding albums. A nothing chorus with a slow, brooding verse with iffy production.

106. Deep (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – This one was originally released on an X-Files compilation album of songs, Songs in the Key of X. They were supposed to be inspired by the show, but I think it was just David Duchovny reaching out to artists he liked for music to fill an album with. “Deep” was not written for the album and was basically a holdover from Danzig 5. Interestingly, it would have been one of the better tracks on that record (the reissue included a remix of this one called “Deeper”) instead of being one of the lesser tracks on disc one of The Lost Tracks of Danzig. It’s a bit slow, with imagery reminiscent of “Sadistikal” that tries to build towards a big chorus, but it doesn’t deliver.

105. Dead Inside (I Luciferi) – This is a song undone by its chorus. The verse is simple with some sweet Danzig crooning. It builds into a faster verse following the first chorus that’s really satisfying, but that damn chorus. It’s just screaming with machine-gun drumming that doesn’t suit the song. It almost betrays the verse which is very melodious by being so simple. A missed opportunity.

104. Cult w/o a Name (Satan’s Child) – This song might be Danzig’s worst written when it comes to nonsense lyrics. “I am teeth of fire/taste a thousand shames,” – what? Teeth don’t taste, Glenn, but I guess tongue doesn’t sound very menacing. The song has a solid groove to it, it suffers some of the same vocal shortcomings as “Apokalips,” but it’s not a bad song. Just flawed.

103. Devil on Hwy 9 (Black Laden Crown) – Okay, maybe this one has dumber lyrics than “Cult w/o a Name.” Driving on an evil highway? Sure, whatever, as long as it sounds good. And the music mostly delivers, but the vocal production is wretched. I was shocked the first time I heard it that it was released like this. This one definitely was let down by its production. Every time I listen to it that opening piece tricks me into thinking maybe this song isn’t so bad, but those vocals bring me back down to earth. Still, as the first song to show up from Black Laden Crown, I’d say that’s a pretty good showing from the most recent Danzig albums, though we’re about to start a little run on songs from this album.

102. Eyes Ripping Fire (Black Laden Crown) – The song that immediately follows “Devil on Hwy 9” is this one, and it’s title seems to imply something more like the previous song, but it’s rather muted. It’s just a song I want to find another gear, but it just meanders. It has kind of a meaningless existence.

101. Night, BeSodom (Circle of Snakes) – This is another song that finds a nice groove, but it’s all it has. It gets what it can out of that groove though, and then quickly ends so that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. If it had an actual chorus it might have been able to climb higher.

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Danzig contemplating what it means to feel all sacrificed.

100. Sacrifice (Blackacidevil) – The lead single from Danzig 5 was kind of a red herring. This one is very Nine Inch Nails-like, and some of that Trent Reznor’s remixes of “Closer” really drive that point home. It’s simple, has an electronic base to it, but the vocals are mostly clean and the chorus explosive. It has kind of a cheapness to it though, like it’s relying on the most basic hooks for success. At least it has hooks though, something a lot of the other songs from this album are sorely lacking in. I’ve picked on Danzig 5 a lot so far, but we’re actually going to leave that album alone for a good while now as it’s surprisingly top heavy relative to other Danzig releases.

99. The Witching Hour (Black Laden Crown) – Another brooder from Black Laden Crown, “The Witching Hour” is an unremarkable track. Not particularly great, but far from bad. It’s the definition of filler.

98. Kiss the Skull (I Luciferi) – This one was originally going to be the title track for Danzig 7, but it lost out to a better song. It’s also inspired by Gary Glitter, he of “Rock n’ Roll Part 2” fame, as well as a noted child molester. It’s kind of a goofy track, but it does possess some catchy qualities and it’s also fun hearing Glenn dust off his “Whoa oh” he so frequently resorted to with The Misfits.

97. Soul Eater (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – If “Kiss the Skull” is goofy, the this one is positively ridiculous. “Soul Eater” is one of the catchiest songs Danzig has ever recorded, but the lyrics are so stupid and silly, which makes them strangely endearing. Even though I consider it only the 97th best Danzig song, I’d love to hear a live version. I even think it was written with that in mind as it references “Blackest of the Black,” the lyric that leads off “Her Black Wings” and is also the namesake of Glenn Danzig’s festival of extreme music, which was in the planning stages during the recording of this song.

96. Firemass (Satan’s Child) – This one is part of the easy listening middle section of Danzig 6. It has a very effervescent guitar tone and there’s an ethereal quality to Danzig’s vocals on the chorus. It was one of my favorite songs on this album when it first came out, and maybe I listened to it too much then because I find it a tad unremarkable now. It’s almost too understated to really stand-out.

95. Belly of the Beast (Satan’s Child) – This is yet another decent song somewhat undone by the lyrics from Danzig 6. This was definitely a creative low point for Danzig, and a lot of the songs show. The song is perfectly catchy, simply but logically constructed, it’s just got this annoying rhyme scheme to the verse. It just sounds like amateur hour, but I’ve always liked the vocal melody on the chorus.

94. When We Were Dead (Circle of Snakes) – An interesting song title that doesn’t really lead to an equally interesting song. The lyrics are actually a strong part to this one as they’re morbidly descriptive. The time signature is a bit interesting, but I feel like the song is building to a conclusion it never reaches, it just devolves into Glenn repeating the song’s title over and over.

93. 777 (Lucifuge) – We’ve kind of reached the first song from the original four. The first four albums are widely considered the band’s best. How much that had to do with Rick Rubin or it containing the original lineup is anyone’s guess. We had picked on Danzig IV’s “Sadistikal” earlier, but like I said, that one feels less like a song and more like an intermission and “Invocation” is just a weird little nugget of a track. “777” sits right in the middle of what many consider the band’s best album. Its twangy acoustic elements overlaying traditional blues rock makes it stand out, but I hate this song’s chorus. The lyrics are just really stupid to me, and I’m not particularly crazy about the verse either. I know a lot of people who like this song a lot, but for me it’s never clicked.

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Just jamming to “Bodies.”

92. Bodies (How the Gods Kill) – If you’re worried I’m about to start ripping on those first four albums, don’t worry. We have a few more tracks to cull before we really get into those albums, but “Bodies” is an especially notable track for being not great. It’s very bluesy, so it has its admirers, but the over-the-top “Cookie Monster” vocals nearly ruin the experience. I often wonder if anyone ever asked Glenn why he chose this approach, it sounds brutal for one’s vocal chords. Rick Rubin had less involvement with this album than the first two, leading to Glenn himself receiving a producer credit on it, and I do wonder if Rubin would have steered him away from this sound had he been around more.

91. Who Claims the Soulless (Lost Tracks of Danzig) – A Danzig 7 reject, “Who Claims the Soulless” is a perfectly forgettable track. There is some merit to the notion that it deserved to make the album over something like “Dead Inside,” but there are also better tracks left off of that release. It doesn’t quite fit with the other material on that record, so there’s an equally valid reason for leaving it off. Is it better than “Kiss the Skull”? Maybe, but does it fit within that album as well? Probably not.

90. Unspeakable (Satan’s Child) – While “Five Finger Crawl” received the first (and only) video from Danzig 6, “Unspeakable” was the lead single sent to radio. It’s not really traditional rock or metal, nor is it really nu-metal. It’s kind of an odd song, and like a lot of that album, it’s not easy to shoe-horn into one of the many sub-genres of rock that were dominating the airwaves. The verse is very simple, and the chorus is really catchy. It’s a straight-forward track that serves its purpose, though it could use some more flourish with either the verse or guitar licks.

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“Unspeakable” was the lead single for Danzig 6:66 Satan’s Child.

I’m going to cut this post off right here as we’re nearing 4,000 words which is just too long for a blog entry. Tomorrow is this blog’s usual Batman Day, so check back on Saturday for Part 2 of this massive entry. And if you have a copy of the first Danzig record laying around, turn that sum-bitch on real loud in honor of its 30th birthday.


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