Sunday, October 21, 2012

13 Days of Halloween, 13 Wicked Albums: Day 4

III: November-Coming-Fire (1986)
Two years ago I had the pleasure of seeing Danzig live on the day before Halloween, along with some other great bands like Marduk, Toxic Holocaust, and Possessed. It was easily one of the most unforgettable concert experiences I've had. However, choosing a favorite album out of Glenn Danzig's career for a list like this is not so easy a task. He's best known for being the frontman of the Misfits, the legendary punk band of the early 80s that established the "horror punk" subgenre. After leaving the Misfits, he started up Samhain, which integrated more elements of rock and gothic music. By 1987 Samhain evolved into a new band simply called Danzig, dropping most of the punk influence for a bluesy rock and metal style inspired by Black Sabbath.

I would have to say that Danzig is my favorite project in Glenn's career, although I enjoy the others too. But for this list, the album has to be something sinister, lyrically and musically. The Misfits took a good deal of their material from cult sci-fi and horror films of the 50s and 60s, and yet their music has an upbeat, almost happy thrust to it, like a lot of the early punk bands. Danzig, on the other hand, probably has some of the darkest songwriting, and some of the evilest lyrics, but occasionally we're thrown a love ballad or one of several songs about gettin' down and dirty. Samhain is kind of a cross between the styles of the Misfits and Danzig, with lyrics that border more on the occult than the fun, horror movie influence of his earlier work. The name Samhain comes from the ancient Celtic New Year celebration that served as part of the origin of Halloween.

So why pick III: November-Coming-Fire? This record has an ominous touch to it that many of Danzig's other records don't have, I would argue. It may be the goth elements, such as the reverb-drenched production, the chorus-laden guitars, and the eerie ambient keyboard effects. Add to that the Presley meets Jim Morrison style of Danzig's singing and you get music that winds up sounding not just wicked, but oddly creepy and tense too. "To Walk the Night" and "Halloween II" bring this out the most, and then there are also hard-hitting guitar-driven tunes like "Mother of Mercy" and "Let the Day Begin." Unfortunately, though, the album ends with the bluntly sexual lyrics of "Human Pony Girl," which is definitely the record's low point. Otherwise, III has a great haunting atmosphere that is fairly unique and seems to have vanished all too quickly from Danzig's music.

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