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Monday, July 26, 2010

CD Review: Danzig - Deth Red Sabaoth

Danzig - Deth Red Sabaoth
2010 Evilive
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

It's been awhile since Glenn Danzig's let the air breathe in his solo work. While he's created some dense, heavy and sometimes brutal albums (Circle of Snakes being perhaps his fiercest), the drafty, fun permeation circulating through his earlier ventures--i.e. the Misfits and especially Samhain--has only ventilated in Glenn's solo records at random. Danzig III: How the Gods Kill might be the only truly lofty album Glenn's recorded post-Samhain, even if Danzig IV was well-entertaining in its lost highway dirty black summer transience.

Glenn's ninth solo album Deth Red Sabaoth is a stark and stripped reminder why we were all drawn to this cat in the first place. Deliberately naked and barren in production, Glenn's torn-down values on Deth Red Sabaoth leaves for a dichotomy of sweet and nasty riffs courtesy of Prong and Ministry journeyman Tommy Victor--rolling through his second stint behind Danzig.

Its blatant clunkiness drifts backwards almost unapologetically to a criss-cross-crash of Glenn's career courtesy of November Coming Fire, Legacy of Brutality, Black Aria and Danzig III. There's nothing pretty about the opening chugs and fret jerks of the opening number "Hammer of the Gods," but its massive marching tempo is the coolest strut Glenn's sauntered out in quite a bit. Tommy Victor leads a teetering sashay of electric swagger on "The Revengeful" and he serves up a flashpoint scorcher of a solo while Danzig caterwauls in his inimitable Morrison-esque fashion. Yes, Glenn's Lizard King drawl has always been his shtick, yet Danzig sounds more relaxed peeling off his own answer-and-call braying than he has the past few albums.

Something about calling his shots in assembling Deth Red Sabaoth gets passed down to the verve of the album itself. Without his standing in the industry, some might call Deth Red Sabaoth sloppy and amateurish. Yet the grimy tone is all part of the scheme and it works beautifully on the slinky, gnashy "Rebel Spirits," where even the choppy double bass rolls assume a rhythm unto their own while serving the downward drive of the song overall. Listen to Tommy Victor practically jizz all over his solo on this ripper.

The slide 'n shamble drive of "Black Candy" (fed in heavy clomps by Danzig himself on the drums) is near camp, yet Victor downpicks, draws back his distortion and regurgitates it all with piercing high note yelps. Right afterwards, Victor strums out a delicate intro for "On a Wicked Night" before turning his guitar into a buzzsaw. Interesting enough on this number, Danzig's vocals are captured in such isolation they sound like he's imprisoned in an antechamber, wailing to get out.

"Deth Red Moon" is a quick howdy back to the first Danzig solo album with a melody tweak borrowed from "Mother" before salivating an at-home messy set of choruses hoisted from the Legacy of Brutality years. Paired together, it's cooler than you think. Ditto for the hellacool "Ju Ju Bone," which captures the flavors of Danzig III and Initium within a subtle rock construct ala The Kinks and Aerosmith.

Not quite having his Black Aria couplet purged out of his system, Glenn Danzig issues the cryptic piano and chant swoon, "Pyre of Souls: Incanticle" and its thunderous sequel "Pyre of Souls: Seasons of Pain." The latter reminds Glenn's listeners he still has a savory set of chops he can spool with comfort when called upon, while the former is the bombastic climax of the "Pyre" pair, as well as Deth Red Sabaoth itself. Tommy Victor's distortion bombs on "Season of Pain" make his Prong work look like he was merely goofing around on Saturday afternoons, criminey. Forget snapping your fingers; worry about the audile orgasms gushing from your ears after savoring this display of fret intensity.

Glenn lays down most of the bass tracks himself on Deth Red Sabaoth (though Steve Zing retains his road dog rights) and he brings in Johnny Kelly for his first recording session under the Danzig moniker--though Kelly officially hooked up with the band between 2002 and 2003. On Circle of Snakes, Tommy Victor dominated the album to such extremes Glenn's vocals fell into a tone-drenched abyss. This time, Danzig and Victor open all the spaces in the studio and fill them with boom--but not so much where one or the other's presence gets lost in translation.

Deth Red Sabaoth is like reading Faust, Sandman and Hellblazer comics to a fuzzy rip by someone whose cultish music has historically given them soundtrack. With Glenn's own splatterpunk comic line, Verotik moistening up the underground, Deth Red Sabaoth is reflective of a guy who's rubbed elbows with The Crypt Keeper as much as he has The Crimson Ghost and Beelzebub.

There's nothing sexy about this record, not even in a dark, sensual manner which has attracted Goths, vamps and chicken-ripping freaks to Glenn in the past. Deth Red Sabaoth is Glenn Danzig getting down and getting real. More, please.

Rating: ****


tarleisio said...

Great review, Ray! (and you did it so much better than I ever could, but that's another story!)

I've had this on constant replay since I bought it a month ago, and there it will likely remain for a while. It's one of the best new albums I've heard all year, and I'm not just saying this because I like the guy.

Good to see you back!

Metal Mark said...

I like it too. It's the most comfortable he has sounded in some time.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Thank you, Tarlesio, I'm humbled by your nice remarks. While I can't stay wholly regular (umm, well, you know), I'll pop up here when I can. This is definitely a cool album and I have only heard two naysayers and a bunch of yea yea people in support of the album.

As Mark says, this is definitely Glenn's most relaxed effort. I applaud the decision to strip down and focus on the meat and the power without being gonzo about it. Good stuff.

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