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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 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.

DANZIG_UNSPEAKABLE-152608

“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.


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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