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Sunday Old School: Danzig

Photo of Danzig

Band Photo: Danzig (?)

In some ways, being part of a hugely influential band can be a real hindrance to a person’s future endeavours. Many times they’ll be unable to escape from the shadow of their past glory, though there are some musicians who have bucked the trend and gone on to find success again. Dave Grohl is one such well known example, as is former Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig, who was able to triumph with his eponymous band. Danzig began life in 1986 when Glenn Danzig’s band at the time, Samhain, performed what was billed as their final show in New York. In the audience that night was producer, Rick Rubin, who approached the singer about taking part in a supergroup he was looking to put together. Danzig wouldn’t take part in another band without bassist, Eerie Von and eventually, two other members of Samhain, John Christ and Chuck Biscuits (also formerly of Black Flag and D.O.A.) were brought into the fold. Despite consisting entirely of Samhain members, the group decided to change their moniker to Danzig, given their shift in musical direction.

They wasted little time in getting to work on material and in 1988, released their self-titled debut album, which remains their best selling album. The record contained the single, "Mother," the video of which was banned by MTV for it’s provocative imagery, specifically the ending sequence which featured a chicken being supposedly sacrificed, with an inverted cross then being drawn in the animals blood. Three other music videos, "She Rides," "Am I Demon" and "Twist of Cain," the last of which featured Metallica frontman, James Hetfield performing uncredited backing vocals, were made to promote the album and helped the record reach its popular status.

Two years later, the band released their sophomore album, "Danzig II: Lucifuge," which expanded heavily on the blues influences of their first record, inspired by the likes of legends such as Howlin’ Wolf. As the title perhaps suggests, lyrically the album focused more on themes involving Satan, a subject which was even worked into the album’s packaging, as some copies of the album folded out into an inverted cross containing the Biblical passage, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." "Danzig II…" received mostly positive reviews and spawned another four music videos for the songs, "Her Black Wings," "Killer Wolf," "Devil’s Plaything" and "I'm the One," the last in the list featured Glenn Danzig wrestling with a live alligator, years before Steve Irwin became famous for doing similar acts.

By the time Danzig recorded their third album, "Danzig III: How the Gods Kill," the blues influence had been discarded somewhat in favour of doom and gothic metal vibes. Glenn Danzig assumed control of much of the production following Rick Rubin’s waning interest in the band and even directed the music videos, "How the Gods Kill," "Sistinas" and "Bodies," with another music video for, "Dirty Black Summer," being directed by Anton Corbijn, who went on to make the Ian Curtis biopic, Control, amongst other films. This song, as well as the title track, became fan favourites and staples of the band’s future live shows, while the album itself was greeted with a very enthusiastic response, with many critics regarding it as their finest work up to that point.

Success continued to come their way in 1993 when the band released their first live record, "Thrall – Demonsweatlve," which contained a re-worked version of "Mother," entitled, "Mother 93." The song became a hit first on rock radio and then on MTV, following the release of a music video for the track. This was followed with "Danzig 4" in 1994, which unbeknownst to the band at the time, would be the final album to contain the "classic" Danzig lineup, as Chuck Biscuits would leave soon after it’s recording, to be replaced by Joey Castillo. The album itself received a fairly positive response and spawned another MTV staple in, "Cantspeak," though the single would not perform as hoped in terms of record sales. Following touring in support of the album, both John Christ and Eerie Von quit the band.

Despite having been left with only two members, Danzig entered the studio and recorded, "Danzig 5: Blackacidevil," which was released through Hollywood Records, making it the first Danzig album not to be released via American Recordings. This new partnership would prove to be short lived as Hollywood Records was owned by Disney, who objected to the use of Satanic imagery and refused to promote the album. Some fans who did pick up "Blackacidevil" were left disappointed by the band’s venture into industrial music and reviews were mixed, something Glenn Danzig was welcoming of, as he considered it to have cast off any fans who only liked the band for their mainstream popularity.

For the next few years, the band were to be caught up in a legal battle with American Recordings over who owned the rights to unreleased tracks Danzig had recorded whilst still on the label, though they eventually released a new album in 1999 entitled, "6:66 Satan’s Child." The album continued and embellished the industrial metal influences of "Blackacidevil" but was received better than its predecessor, even receiving a perfect score in Rock Hard magazine. Lyrically, the band has moved from the Satanic influences and further into the previously used themes of depression and death.

On the next album, "Danzig 777: I Luciferi," the band more or less removed their industrial sound and returned to their brand of heavy metal with gothic and doom influences. It was another generally well received effort but marked a dramatic change as all of the band’s members with the exception of Glenn Danzig would leave over the coming months, leading the eponymous singer to recruit a new lineup for the 2004 album, "Circle of Snakes." This new incarnation of the group featured Prong frontman, Tommy Victor on guitar and showcased a slightly more basic sound, more in line with the debut full length. They promoted the album by heading out on the "Blackest of the Black" tour with new drummer, Johnny Kelly, also a member of Type O Negative, whose bandmate, Kenny Hickey would also come on board.

Danzig continued to tour over the next few years, mostly performing at small venues and festivals, owing mostly to the frontman’s lack of desire to tour heavily. In 2010 however, the band released their first album in six years, "Deth Red Sabaoth," to positive reviews. They promoted the album by appearing at the Download Festival in England amongst other events. Danzig has continued to tour in support of the album and last year celebrated the 25th anniversary of their debut. Glenn Danzig has stated in interviews that he is working on material with Victor and Kenny for a new album, at least three songs for which have reportedly been written and recorded already.

Danzig - "Mother"

Danzig - "Killer Wolf"

Danzig - "Dirty Black Summer"

Danzig - "Cantspeak"

Danzig - "Sacrifice"

Danzig - "Five Finger Crawl"

Danzig - "Wicked Pussycat"

Danzig - "Circle of Snakes"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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11 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Danzig"

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Anonymous Reader
1. Morbid Lividity writes:

Love this series of articles- keep em' comming.

# Sep 7, 2014 @ 7:54 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

2. Diamond Oz writes:

Thank you very much. Plenty more on the way!

# Sep 7, 2014 @ 8:01 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. LARDASS writes:

Great work, Oz! Been a huge fan of Danzigs work since discovering him in the mid 80s when i was still a snot nosed kid. Honestly kinda surprised it took this long to do a feature on him. Most bands are lucky to have maybe 3-4 great albums back to back...in my opinion Danzig holds the record. Everything from the 1st Misfits single through Danzig IV are completely untouchable. Almost 20 straight years of greatness. Its almost hard to believe how much this man did and how much he rules!

# Sep 7, 2014 @ 11:19 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
4. Wanderer in the Outer Darkness writes:

People like to slag Danzig now but that's just not fair. This guy paid his dues a long time ago. He pioneered punk, hardcore and deathrock/goth before bringing the blues back into metal in a really big way. Those first four Danzig albums are unique. They have this balance of sinister intent and seductive power, which is rarely ever seen in metal. It truly is the devil's music. "IV", especially, is underrated and is his darkest work, along with Samhain.

NP: Danzig - Dominion

# Sep 7, 2014 @ 12:31 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. I'm not Jesus Christ writes:

f*** yeah! I love Danzig, great job on this article, Oz!

# Sep 10, 2014 @ 11:11 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

6. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks guys. Glad you liked it!

# Sep 10, 2014 @ 1:31 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
7. Sir Lord Ozzy writes:

North Side Kings are undefeated! I'm surprised you didn't mention anything about the Danzig and North Side Kings incident in this article.

# Sep 15, 2014 @ 2:12 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
8. I'm not Jesus Christ writes:

Response to #7's comment: I'm not surprised, I don't think it was that important to mention it in this article.

# Sep 19, 2014 @ 12:05 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

9. Diamond Oz writes:

^ Pretty much.

# Sep 19, 2014 @ 12:46 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
cbella's avatar

Member

10. cbella writes:

AAHHHH - Oz, you finally did Danzig!!!

I have made no secret of my adoration for the man :) He will always hold a special place in my heart as he was my 'gateway' into metal. He was my first metal exposure al those years ago!!! Loving the mutton chops!

Danzig: I was probably the best album with Lucifuge a close contender but I really liked Deth Red Sabaoth & hope it is a sign that the next material is of a similar standard. Tommy Victor is a great asset to the band!

Great article Oz, I'm really glad to see you didn't go down the all too predictable route of mentioning what #7 references (as well as other crap unrelated to his musical legacy).


Oh, and what a great line......."Glenn Danzig wrestling with a live alligator, years before Steve Irwin became famous for doing similar acts"

Danzig = trailblazer

# Sep 23, 2014 @ 4:25 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

11. Diamond Oz writes:

Haha cheers Cbella! I figured it was about time I did Danzig. Got something really heavy sorted for the last week of the month, before something very special planned for October.

# Sep 23, 2014 @ 8:50 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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