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Melody Maker, 10/22/88

By Mick Mercer

Def American

   Is this a swagger I see before me? Have all four men deliberately parked 
articulated lorries in their lower jaws? If that is what it takes to expunge 
prissy thrash metal bands from at least one corner of a page forever 
charitably abused, then this is a bathosphere with a difference. A noble
berth, whatever the duration. Two years in the making, "Danzig" wears its 
dogma like a penis extension, proudly. In fact it waves it in your face.
   It offers nothing but nightmares and, as we all know, nightmares are for 
wimps. It takes it upon itself to be a test. Glenn Danzig, who, in his frenzy, 
has swallowed his tongue on some tracks, rails against lack of motivation. He 
questions shortfalls in social momentum, but his only answers involve pain and 
humiliation. Even death. The voice that paralyses this album is out of control,
yet seems impressive. A suit of armour on castors.
   The music harks backwards in time, supple in its sonic exposure, a rarified 
massacre in an air-lock. Often the drums of Chuck Biscuits (so named after an 
embarrassing episode in Sainsbury's?) Hardly seem to be there, totally absorbed
into John Christ's guitar, flashing through electrified stubble, defecating 
like a cheeta in full flight. In "Not Of This World", Glenn steals up behind 
him and lets out a long, liquid howl. The ever resourceful Rubin just dropped 
a safe on his foot.
   Brevity is their watchword. Empty, desolate, sometimes disquietingly 
inviting, Danzig can change moods faster than the cracking of skulls. From the 
teaspoonful of meekness accidentally revealed in "Soul On Fire", complete with 
the ghost of Jim Morrison, to the pressing heart attack of "Am I Demon" they 
come close to giving The Night a decent voice. There are bass notes like 
sparrowhawks, dodging and infuriating the vertical take-off of Christ during 
the echo-assisted "Evil Thing", there is a concerted rape of the spleen 
throughout "Mother", one of the most hair-raising, hellraising, experiences of 
the year. Moronic it may be, but did you never thrill to the sight of William 
Shatner trying to run?
   Personally I'm glad they live in America, although several thousand miles 
never seem so small, because there are many reasons to be tearful. They have 
stripped everything down to the bare bones, where humanity is dead. Not for 
them the art of scrimshaw. They just want to suck the marrow. Most metal bands 
mean well, when it would be better for us if they didn't. Dramatic, bordering 
on the nauseatingly twee, you know they never mean what they gargle. Danzig, 
who would like to nestle inside your brain, walk about in your dreams and 
"light you up like Christmas" (?!!!) Appear to mean every dreadful word. 
They'll make you wish you'd never been bored.
   Home, safety, rationality? Forget it.