Tag Archives: simon bisley

Danzig – Lyrics of the Left Hand Vol. II

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

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

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

SimonBisley

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

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

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

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

verotik samples

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

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

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

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

 

 


Danzig: Thrall-Demonsweatlive +

Danzig: Thrall-Demonsweatlive (1993)

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

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

Side B of the picture disc release.

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

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

Danzig: Live on the Black Hand Side (2001)

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

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

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

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


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