Monday, October 31, 2011

Metal Monday: My Top Ten Glenn Danzig Songs

Metal Monday is something I used to do periodically on Rhymes With Hondo. It didn't really work there -- it's out of place on something so specific as an NBA team blog; I didn't post regularly enough; and the posts I did make were sort of half-assed. When I started this blog, I decided to redouble my efforts and make it a truly regular feature.

I'm still not sure where I'll head with this. Some posts might be a list, like this one. Others might be a link to an album stream or free download. On the relatively rare occasions I purchase a new album, I'll probably do a review. Occasionally, I might try to "cleverly" tie it into basketball. Realistically, though, most of the posts will probably just be me telling you what I like to listen to.

I wasn't going to start it up for a while, but Halloween and a four-part series from MetalSucks inspired me to do a post on one of my favorite artists, the godfather of horror punk: Glenn Danzig.


Strictly speaking, Danzig is not a metal artist. Indeed, his most famous and influential work came as the founder of the punk group The Misfits. It's actually a little ironic that I'm choosing to do this post in honor of Halloween, because I am one of the few who like Danzig (the man) for Danzig (the band), which he formed after The Misfits and Samhain. Danzig the band is more of a hard rock outfit than the other two ventures. Though the group's first three albums are indisputably its best, Danzig has been putting out consistently good hard rock music since 1988, with the exception of the band's fifth album, an unfortunate foray into industrial rock called Blackacidevil.

Danzig gets a lot of shit: From metal fans, for not being metal enough; from non-metal fans, for his Satanic themes; from everyone, for taking himself too seriously. But there are few artists I like more, and I'm going to do my best to honor him today.

Without further ado...

10.

Okay, okay, I promise that the rest of the list is serious. I just can't pass up the opportunity to post what is probably my favorite YouTube video. The concept is great, the modified lyrics hilarious, the voice spot on. And if that's not enough, you've got Shakira's undeniably forthright haunches. Between all of that, it's impossible to not watch the video the whole way through.

9.

"Bound By Blood" is off The Lost Tracks of Danzig, a two-disc set of unreleased music that is really a must-own for Danzig fans. One other track from that compilation made this list (see below), and "Buick McKane" would be in the top five if it wasn't something of a cover song. (You really should click that link, though; great tune.) I like "Bound By Blood" because it takes two Danzig staples -- haunting background music and ominous-sounding vocals -- and lays strong guitar work on top.

8.

"Going Down to Die," from Danzig's fourth album, is more or less a blues song, which is not altogether unusual for the band. Glenn Danzig was even rumored, a while back, to be planning or working on a blues album with Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell -- a collaboration I look forward to, if they ever get around to it. Anyway, I like this one better than the group's other bluesy tracks, mainly because -- and I know this sounds weird -- I find Danzig's voice soothing. This song showcases the power of Danzig's voice, and puts me strangely at ease -- not unlike the way I'd hope to feel, actually, should I ever have the misfortune of being led to my certain death.

7.

"Pain Is Like an Animal" is a hard-driving rock song from The Lost Tracks of Danzig that pays homage to Misfits-era Glenn by featuring a number of "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAs" in the chorus. Although liking Danzig isn't really about appreciating great instrumentation, there's a ripping 30-second guitar solo about 2:10 in, and a shorter, heavy riff near the end that is also pretty great. Plus, the lyrics mention a "killing plain;" no list of Danzig songs is complete without at least one mention of a "killing plain" or "killing floor." It'd be like a Beastie Boy album without something happening until the break of -- or, preferably, the break of break of -- dawn.

6.

I suspect you've all heard this one before, and so I'm okay with embedding a video that includes an annoying ad at the beginning that overlaps with ruins the first 30 fucking seconds of the song. (Seriously, YouTube, wtf?) I think seeing the official music video is important, because it illustrates what I meant when I said that Danzig takes himself too seriously. I was actually going to leave this song off the list on the grounds that it is so popular, but then I remembered that I hate clowns who stop liking bands just because their work gets popular. This song rocks and needed to be on here.

5.

"Long Way Back From Hell" is the first track on Lucifuge, the band's second album and my favorite of theirs. Another hard-driving song, I think I'm drawn to it because of how upbeat Danzig makes the decision whether to kill someone sound. Danzig has plenty of gloomy, ominous music, but this -- like "Pain Is Like an Animal" -- is an adrenaline-building rock song that just happens to be about some pretty heavy shit.

4.

At last, a Misfits song, and the only one on this list. Had to have one, and this is my favorite. Plus, it sounds enough like every other Misfits or Samhain song that it's a good representation of the genre.

3.

This is a spooky song. And it touches closer to Glenn Danzig's sexual proclivities more than I'm interested in discussing here. (For a sample, you can check out Verotik, the adult comic book publisher Danzig owns, yourself.) But the way it builds from the acoustic cords, ominous bass drum beat, and haunting monotone vocals to staccato guitars and Danzig's piercing wail is just too much to resist. The majority of Danzig 4p isn't noteworthy, but this song and "Going Down to Die" make it listenable.

2.

This is Danzig's heaviest song, and one of its best. His voice tends to dominate most songs, but when you listen to this one, pay attention to what the guitars are doing in the background. Nothing earth-shattering by any means, but they really contribute to the overall feel of the song. Lyrically, this track -- like many others -- puts us as listeners in the position of having to ask and answer -- at least theoretically -- some very uncomfortable questions about ourselves. I personally don't believe we live in a world as dark as the one Danzig at least professes to envision, but the possibility that at least some of us do is fascinating to me. This is one of the most powerful songs I've ever heard.

1.

This is where it all started for me. My delight for songs that go from quiet-to-loud has faded a bit (I now prefer loud from start to finish), but when I was a freshman in high school, there was nothing that gave me more pleasure than cuing this song up on my Walkman(!), keeping the volume low, then cranking it at just the right moment. (Even better was when I could pull the same trick on an unsuspecting girl.) It was several years after I first heard "Devil's Plaything" that I would develop a true appreciation for Danzig, but without this song, I probably never would have returned to the band once my music preferences evolved.

There it is: my top ten Danzig songs. On the slim chance that someone is reading this, if there's a song you think I missed or one that you think shouldn't be on here, let me know in the comments.

3 comments:

  1. Great post, thanks Doc! I'm with you (and we're a small group) who prefers Glenn's solo output to his punk era. Seeing the classic Mother live video around 1993 on Headbangers Ball UK was a revelation for a 14 year old who'd had little exposure to metal at that point! I'm gutted I didn't get to experience that ferocious live show the classic line-up were famous for. Hopefully Glenn has plenty of footage from those years in the vault for unleashing someday.

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  2. Your shithead post is fucked. You didn't even post the titles and even if I was willing to click YouTube links you're a fuckin rube. Go fuck yourself

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  3. Your shithead post is fucked. You didn't even post the titles and even if I was willing to click YouTube links you're a fuckin rube. Go fuck yourself

    ReplyDelete