by Paul Lee
The strains of a passionate bluesed-out rocker drift lazily into the air. A basic, mid-tempo rhythm underlies a slightly distorted guitar while a singer with vocals that could sink a ship wails with emotion singing “Going Down To Die.” It’s a haunting song that would work well in a graveyard at midnight. Danzig have returned with another dark creation that runs the gamut from ethereal ballads to demon rockers. Their new disc that American Records swears is named 4 (though I couldn’t tell ya for sure since all Glenn put on it are some kind of runes. Six of ’em, no less.) is a cool disc.
I’ve always found it amazing that Danzig can come up with songs about Satan, evil, murder and other grim topics and still remain somewhere between metal, blues, and punk but never resort to death metal. On 4, Glenn and his men even manage to expand their sonic range. But fear not, fair Danzig fan, they remain true to their evil, mind-numbing tunes. They’ve produced some good stuff before, namely the self-titled and How The Gods Kill, but 4 even flaps circles around those albums.
Enclosed in a jacket that looks suspiciously like a miniaturized LP jacket, Danzig take a trip with stops at all sorts of weird places along the way. The album opens up with a speeding locomotive entitled “Brand New God.” This is pure Danzig as Glenn does his testosterone banshee wail with flair. Then, two songs down the way, the demon train makes a stop at a somber number called “Cantspeak” that sounds more akin to The Cure (if Robert Smith had been sacrificed to the dark gods) than the usual Danzig fare. Glenn even tones down his wail for a new style and John Christ takes on a new guitar approach. “Sadistikal” is some really cracked piece of work that is almost all rhythm and only vocals at the end, spoken by Glenn. Creepy.
The rest of 4 is a strong mix of power-blues tunes, metallized rockers and some strange and hard to classify music. Fortunately, there is nothing up-beat and commercial. Danzig stays faithful to the blackness that inhabit their souls. And to anyone that doesn’t see the fun in getting dark and dirty, don’t even try to explain it to them because they’ll probably already think that you’re possessed by one of Satan’s minions. Danzig aren’t really evil, they just see a lot of fun in singing about it.
With 4, it appears that Danzig have hit a new stride and have gotten even better. It’s a long way from the classic mayhem of the Misfits, but Glenn and Co. have really forged a new musical weapon. Glenn’s voice has never sounded better – he sings more than wails. Christ’s guitar work proves that he is an axe talent to be reckoned with, while Eerie Von’s bass work and Chuck Biscuits’ drumming (he’s just been ousted from the band) are as solid as hell.
God forbid that Danzig should be a household name, but on the strength of this album, they could be headed for major recognition, much to the dismay of those religious freaks. It may well be that 4 is the hottest (as in Hades) overall rock ‘n’ roll release in ’94. But, by the grace of God (or Beelzebub) Danzig will only get popular for a time and then the poseurs will drop off and rot in their trendy hells.