Monday, January 31, 2011

Danzig: Blackacidevil (1996)

Motion for Reconsideration

Danzig 5 BlackacidevilDanzig's Blackacidevil was a huge departure for the man and the band, and by many it has been sharply criticized. But really, it doesn't deserve the bad reputation. And it certainly should never have been a big surprise change in direction.

Of course, Glenn Danzig started out as a formative influence on the punk world with the Misfits in the late 70's, and left that band to form his own punk band Samhain. These are still the only punk bands I listen to. It wasn't until 1987 that he got into metal. The first three albums from the band Danzig were stripped-down, simple heavy metal with a strong focus on Glenn as a powerful frontman. Yet each of these albums had its own character, and had forays into different styles (such as country). By the time of 4p, he was already experimenting with industrial elements (see "Cantspeak"). The band Danzig has always been about the man Danzig, and the man has always been about trying different things. In that sense, the fifth Danzig album should have been an entirely expected experiment.

And it's not bad, either. Throughout the album, industrial noises and rhythms seem to be the key, especially in the verses. The title track and "Power of Darkness" are really just noise without riffs, and they're not very compelling. But some of the choruses tend toward classic Danzig: Opener "7th House" and "Sacrifice" have some excellent (and unmistakably Danzig) riffs. Other tracks are industrial doom in character, with industrial noises on top but extended guitar chords in the background ("See All You Were") or slow, crunchy riffs ("Hint of Her Blood"). The latter doesn't work terribly well, because other than a change in drumming halfway through it doesn't seem to go anywhere. "Serpentia" starts out as merely industrial, but turns into this kind of industrial doom, and it happens to work well. "Come to Silver" is mellow, with acoustic rhythm guitar and electric leads, and it's pretty good--but it's actually better in the non-industrial version off The Lost Tracks of Danzig.  The compelling Closer "Ashes" is based around piano, and recalls Glenn's Black Aria more than any of his band work.

The real highlight is the Black Sabbath cover "Hand of Doom". The crunchy industrial sound works really well to emphasize the ominous and hypnotic nature of the verses, and they throw in some great new guitar solos.

The original version doesn't really have a whole lot to recommend it ("Sacrifice" and "Hand of Doom" are the only essential cuts), but the bonus tracks on the 2000 reissue make it worthwhile. "Deeper" is a heavy and simple reworking of a song that appeared in the X-Files movie soundtrack, and has a killer How the Gods Kill style riff in the chorus. "Bleedangel" sheds Danzig's normal verse-chorus-verse structure and shows that, at some point, he figured out how to make a really eerie and interesting industrial song. On the downside, "Don't Be Afraid" is just stupid, and "Ashes" makes a much better closing track.

The Verdict: In all, it was an interesting experiment, even if it was very hit and miss. I give the original version 2.5 out of 5 stars, and the 2000 reissue gets 3 out of 5.

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