Faces Presents Metal Muscle Oct. 1991 --------------------------------------- Metallifriends DANZIG If you ever see the guys in Metallica bobbing their heads in a synchronized rhythm and their own instruments are nowhere in sight, chances are they're listening to the Misfits. Of all their musical obsessions, a certain Glenn Danzig has figured most prominently in the band's development. Metallica have made no secret of their appreciation of Danzig. They not only admit the influence, they revel in it, wearing Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig t-shirts, covering Misfits tunes ("Last Caress"/"Green Hell" on the Garage Days Re-Revisited EP) and generally expressing their appreciation for the horror-rock maestro whenever they get the opportunity. A few years ago, when Rolling Stone asked Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, and Jason Newsted what their choice was for Best Album of the Year, their unanimous choice was the Danzig album. Glenn Danzig is one of the few outsiders given credence by the speed metal community. In addition to the association with Metallica, he shares both a record label (Def American) and a producer (Rick Rubin) with Slayer. Though his own music is every bit as intense, it is played at a throbbing, hallucinatory pace that nonetheless sends his audiences into a frenzy. Danzig and Metallica have enjoyed a kind of symbiotic relationship ever since Metallica's arrival on the music scene. On one level, Glenn's dark obsessions have fueled the imagination of the musicians in Metallica, providing inspiration for their own songs. The similarites between Metallica's rendition of "Am I Evil" and Danzig's own "Am I Demon" are more than coincidental. Metallica's lyrics, written by James Hetfield, have come a long way since the morbid fascination of Kill 'Em All, following an almost identical path to Danzig. Glenn's early '80s punk combo The Misfits merged pop melodies with speedy riffing and Glenn's gruesome lyrics, which were initially inspired by cheap horror films and comic books. But Glenn has grown increasingly studious over the years. Starting with Samhain, the band he formed with bass player Eerie Von after the demise of the Misfits, his lyrics, though still absorbed in the dark side, began to draw on literary sources, most significantly the bible. About the same time, James Hetfield began to move away from the fantasy stuff to deal in reality. Despite the imagery of evil, which permeates the songs of both Metallica and Danzig, neither of these groups is satanic. Glenn's music, whether you're talking about the punk of the Misfits, or the blues-tinged metal of his current self-named group, has next to nothing to do with thrash and yet it is obvious he shares a lot of fans with Metallica - and not just because they wear his t-shirts. It's obvious to them that Glenn is for real. He's so talented that he could probably have gone platinum by now, writing songs to order, if he had decided to tone down the dark imagery of his songs and his videos but he has steadfastly refused to do so. Like Metallica, Glenn makes his music for no one but himself. If you happen to like it, then you're welcomed into his world, a dominion that many have found to be seductive; if not, well, then a certain admonition (best not printed in a family rock magazine) would seem to apply. On a personal level, the members of Metallica maintain a rare friendship with their mentor. Kirk, in particular, shares such non-musical interests as comic book collecting, monsters, and toys with Glenn and the two often go on the prowl together whenever they're in the same town. Metallica's support has had at least a little to do with Glenn's transition from cult hero to mainstream contender. They took Danzig along on the European wing of the ...And Justice tour, exposing him to arenas full of new victims. 1990's Danzig II: Lucifuge delivered Danzig's most thought-provoking lyrics to date to a waiting audience that knew the Misfits only by reputation. With his full-bodied baritone voice finally finding its rightful place in the mix, Glenn takes on the role of evil incarnate in such songs as "I'm The One" and "Long Way Back From Hell," probes the depths of erotica in "Her Black Wings," and attempts to set Chritians straight in "Snakes Of Christ." His vision is fully embellished with music as tightly woven as a tapestry, produced by a band that includes Eerie Von on bass, John Christ on guitar, and Chuck Biscuits on drums. The laminated backstage passes for Danzig's "Long Way Back From Hell" tour were done up in the shape of an upside down cross which resulted in a state of confused embarrassment for the journalists, music industry insiders, and assorted hangers-on who were forced to wear them, a stituation which no doubt amused Glenn. With Glenn Danzig and the Devil, it has always been a situation of guilt by association. Why the censors come down so much harder on Danzig than they do on say Madonna or Billy Idol remains something of a conundrum for followers of alternative music. As for Glenn, he's probably wondering why it doesn't help him sell any more records. Since Lucifuge, the New Jersey born underground legend has been taking his case to the people. In the end, it is the swelling fan base he's been cultivating over the past couple of years that will put Danzig over the top.