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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!


Danzig: The Lost Tracks of Danzig

The Lost Tracks of Danzig (2007)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Tracks

  • Cold, Cold Rain
  • Warlok
  • Bound by Blood

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