I admit it, I’m a complete Danzig fanboy. When someone says “They could put out a recording of their bowel movements and someone would buy it”, that “someone” they are talking about is me. I celebrate the man’s entire catalog, from the Misfits to Samhain to Danzig. I even own two different versions of the much maligned Danzig 5: Blackacidevil (the original Hollywood Records pressing and the E-Magine/Evilive re-issue w/ bonus tracks). I defended Danzig’s honor with the fervor of an angry pitbull when that morbidly obese douchebag from a d-list hardcore band sucker-punched him. Glenn Danzig doesn’t have the first clue who I am, but dammit I would walk through hellfire ‘n’ brimstone for him.
But even I can’t argue with the fact that Danzig seemed to have fallen on hard times ever since Blackacidevil. Choosing to bury his biggest asset (that Jim Morrison meets American Werewolf in a London Dungeon set of pipes) in distortion and trading his hellhound on my trail mojo for synthetic beats were poor career choices that he never seemed to be able to fully recover from. His voice appeared to be weakening on subsequent albums (6:66 Satan’s Child and 7:77 I Luciferi) and the songwriting was largely hit and miss. 2004′s Circle of Snakes showed signs of life though, with some even claiming that it sounded like a Samhain record (I beg to differ). But just when it looked like Danzig was on the comeback trail, things went quiet. I started to wonder if Circle of Snakes would be Danzig’s last hurrah, which seemed like a shame considering how much of an improvement it was over the last few albums.
Enter 2010 and Danzig has come back from the netherworld with Deth Red Sabaoth. This is the sort of record that we critics like to refer to as a “return to form”. The minute Danzig starts howling on opening track “Hammer of the Gods”, it all comes rushing back. The swagger, the grit, the beguiling, blues-based power are all present and accounted for. It’s almost like albums 5-8 never happened and Danzig is picking up where he left off on Danzig 4, albeit with a different lineup.
And what a lineup it is. Prong’s Tommy Victor does his best to approximate the squealing, bluesy style of long lost original Danzig six-stringer John Christ and Type O Negative’s Johnny Kelly brings the thunder on drums. Danzig himself plays bass along with keyboards and additional guitars. GD even jumps behind the kit for “Black Candy”, another signature stripper anthem along the lines of “She Rides” and “Her Black Wings”.
The album is memorable from front to back, with the Elvis-on-steroids voodoo of “Ju Ju Bone”, the Sabbath-ian heaviness of “Night Star Hel” and the enormous choruses of “Deth Red Moon” being the immediate standouts. Danzig sounds completely rejuvenated vocally, especially on “On A Wicked Night”, “Rebel Spirits” and the spine-tingling closer “Left Hand Rise Above”. That is the real triumph of Deth Red Sabaoth. There are vocal moments on this album that give me the chills, the same chills I felt discovering Danzig for the very first time. No matter what you think of Danzig the man or how he is portrayed, few can argue that when Danzig the singer gets behind the mic, there is nobody better. He is as mesmerizing on Deth Red Saboath as he’s ever been.
My one and only complaint with Deth Red Sabaoth is the production. The sound seems overly compressed and I would have preferred a more spacious, organic production like those found on the classic Danzig recordings. The record is extremely heavy, probably the heaviest sounding album in the Danzig catalogue, but I can’t help but think these tracks would benefit from being allowed to breathe a bit more.
Overall though, what we have here is a certified barn-burner of a Danzig album, something fans haven’t been able to say since III: How The Gods Kill. Whether or not Deth Red Sabaoth will endure the test of time and sit alongside Danzig’s classic albums, it’s too early to tell, but there can be no doubt that he’s redeemed himself. As an extremely biased fan, I think I’ll just be content to have another great album from one of my all-time favorite vocalists and worry about the rest later.