DEFENDING DANZIG, DAY THREE OF FOUR: MISFITS
In honor of the Samhain season, MetalSucks is taking a fresh look at Danzig’s 11 most dubious distinctions. And we’re rendering judgment. (Click here for Part One: Misfortune. Click here for Part Two: Music.)
Danzig has had a helluva run, but the Misfits is his one truly iconic band, from its enduringly popular graphics to its all-killer-no-filler catalog, which started as catchy punk songs and eventually influenced heavy metal at its highest levels.
The group’s sordid saga is one of rock’s great Behind The Music stories, but for today’s Defending Danzig discussion, let’s decide whether the Misfits achieved their full potential, or whether it’s just another shoulda-woulda-coulda band.
Incident #1: Earth A.D.
The Charge: Seminal Misfits LP Sucks.
Case: The Misfits’ final LP, 1983’s Earth A.D., was classic and controversial. It redefined the border between hardcore and metal. While dudes like Metallica saw it as a revelation (they covered “Green Hell” on 1987’s The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited), it still takes fire from both sides.
The anti-Earth A.D. contingent generally falls into two categories: One, punks think the pro-forma hardcore departure is too heavy. They claim it’s discordant departure from the band’s unassailable body of pop-tinged punk perfection.
Even Misfits bassist Jerry Only has claimed the heavier music was Danzig’s attempt to cash in on the hardcore boom — but that’s coming from the guy who A] insisted on playing the music superfast and B] brought the world Misfits air fresheners.
Many a Metallicat who decided to check out the original Misfits song thought Earth A.D. was too punky. Danzig hated contemporary metal, and despite its Marshalls-to-11 waves of feedback and wall of sound, the mini-LP lacks overt signifiers like shredderific solos and Screaming for Vengeance vocals. Technically, it’s a hardcore album, not crossover. And when push comes to shove, metal doodz hate punk.
Verdict: Earth A.D. Was Way Ahead of Its Time, And Mad Marc Rude’s Cover Art Is Gnarly Anyway.
Incident #2: Misfits Reunion, Or Lack Thereof
The Charge: Danzig Should Reunite His Iconic Punk Band.
Case: A vocal contingent of fans hope against hope that Danzig will reunite with his old Misfits bandmate, bassist Jerry Only, who’s been running the ‘Fits as a punk-rock revue show for the last decade.
It’s been less of an issue since Glenn reunited with late-era Misfits (and nü-Misfits) guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein in 2007, taking him on tour to perform a short set of Misfits songs during Danzig shows. (This Fall, Doyle is guesting on Danzig Legacy sets, which feature songs from the Misfits, Samhain and Danzig.) When he first announced the ‘Fits sets, Danzig promised, “It’s the closest thing to a Misfits reunion anyone is ever going to see.” Thank the powers of darkness for that one.
The Danzig-Doyle shows were awesome. And they did suggest that a reunion tour would have been amazing.
Then in 2008, Doyle revealed that a Misfits reunion album had been a real possibility — but it was scuttled by Only and his management. Only refused to discuss it at the time. Danzig confirmed it via an ambiguous denial. And while the news was sensational, the next Doyle-Danzig collaboration hinted that a new Misfits album would have disappointed more fiends than it delighted.
Danzig produced the self-titled 2007 debut of Doyle’s Gorgeous Frankenstein band. Though the metallic strip-club anthems were clearly Doyle’s work, the album had Danzig’s fingerprints all over it, like the metal double-kick drums in “Man or Monster” and the yeah-yeah-go-go-go refrain in the title track.
If the Gorgeous Frankenstein album is any indicator, we’d bet $6 that a Misfits reunion would have had more late-era-Danzig-style riffing and less punk bliss like “Skulls.” As Earth A.D. proved, Danzig stopped writing that stuff before the original band died. He hasn’t produced anything similar since. Diehards from either end of Danzig’s career would have been bitching about it for decades.
Verdict: Sometimes It’s Better To Bitch About Something That Didn’t Happen.
Are the Misfits Danzig’s best or worst band? If a bunch of douches like the band now, should you hold that against the music? Let us know in the comments section!
D.X. Ferris is the author of 33 1/3: Reign in Blood, the first English-language book about Slayer, which is available cheap in hard copies and for the Kindle machines. (He’s been know to send bonus swag in exchange for a proof of purchase.) You can friend it on the Facebook, or follow his bullshit daily on the Tweeters: @dxferris and @SlayerBook.