Glenn Danzig’s body of work is staggering. The guy’s covering several genres throughout his career, and even has his own record label; to say he’s been influential would be an understatement. Early on, he founded the punk band Misfits, then went on to form Samhain in the early ’80s. Danzig got its start with Rick Rubin recruiting Samhain for his label, Def American, then talking Glenn into changing the name for creative rights purposes. And with the band’s self-titled, full-length debut celebrating its 27th birthday this weekend, it’s high time we took a look back:
For the new band, Glenn carried bassist Eerie Von over with him from Samhain, then recruited guitarist John Christ and drummer Chuck Biscuits to round out the lineup. With the lineup solidified, they began work on their bluesy, riff-driven debut. While there’s not a lot of variety or technicality, it has a couple of things in spades: simple yet powerful riffs; hard-driving drums; and unbelievably good vocals. It’s extremely infectious and there’s a lot to be said for a 27-year-old release that still sounds as powerful today as it did back then.
Opener “Twist of Cain” begins with a dirty-sounding guitar riff, a one-two-three drum cadence and the kind of deep-voiced vocals that have earned Glenn the nickname “Evil Elvis” over the years. On my personal favorite, “She Rides,” he belts out several lines at the top of his register without ever cracking a note, and transitions between low-whispered words and higher volume attack with ease. “Am I Demon” is another long-standing favorite of mine. It’s got powerful, bluesy riffs and simple, yet effective drumming that’s heavier than most other tracks on the album and shares more commonalities with Glenn’s earlier works. Then there’s the ever-popular “Mother,” which really showcases the darkness of Glenn’s writing.
This album was released with a Parental Advisory sticker attached even though profanity is absent. Glenn attributed this to the content — which, at the time, seemed to be more important to the “concerned” citizens than anything. (You know, “evil content corrupts minds!” and all.) But alongside that warning sticker is the infamous white skull on a black background — simplistic design in its most effective form. It gets the job done without being too much to take in and states the premise of the album without ever hearing a note.
This same core lineup would go on to release Danzig II through IV and while each of those was great in its own rite, none quite captured the raw power of this debut. Dive in and set your soul on fire with the playlist below…