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They're back: Misfits return with a vengeance

By Dean Golemis
Tribune Staff Writer

Like some vengeful ghouls rising from the grave in a B-movie, the Misfits
have returned with their blazing hardcore punk so steeped in horror flick
images you would think they were written especially for this cheap cinema.

And so it was fitting that at Friday's sold-out show at the Vic Theatre, this
reunited band from New Jersey tickled its fans with a variety of video clips
from horror and sci-fi films on an overhead screen.

Classic freaks such as Frankenstein, Nosferatu, Godzilla and the Creature
from the Black Lagoon along with more recent movies such as ``Psycho,'' ``The
Exorcist'' and ``Hellraiser'' gave visual interpretation of what Misfits
songs are all about.

Missing from the cast of characters, both on the screen and the stage, was
Glenn Danzig. The band's founding frontman, who is enjoying success these
days with his namesake outfit, fueled the Misfits from 1977 to their breakup
in '84 with a vocal style that gave them distinction from many of the
screaming bands of the punk era.

Mix together the voices of Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison and you have
Danzig's broad tenor, which gave Misfit songs a doomy, yet melodic texture.
(In fact, he's nicknamed ``The Evil Elvis.'')

At the Vic show, new singer Michael Graves partially succeeded in mimicking
those vocals, but fell short at times trying to match all the textures of
Danzig's meaty cadences. Aside from being drowned out by the loud distortion
of bassist Jerry Only and guitarist Doyle and the quaking pounds of drummer
Chud, Graves' higher tone thinned out songs like ``Hollywood Babylon.''

He was, however, able to pack some vocal depth in the melodically crooned
favorites ``Return of the Fly'' and ``Last Caress,'' a mayhem-filled ditty
that represents some of Danzig's deadpan lyrical humor.

Looking like something that emerged from the dungeon, the band wore thick
rings of black mascara around their eyes (Graves had a skull painted on his
face), and sported the traditional Misfit ``devil lock''--hair slicked into a
thick spike hanging over the face. And it was fitting that Only and Doyle
toted guitars that looked like medieval torture tools, while Chud secluded
himself between a spiked, jumbo-sized drum kit that looked like a crypt.

It's the stuff of cool live shows, and it worked well for a band whose nature
is to spook rather than snub authority in the typical punk fashion.

Only, who is the current lineup's only founding member, led the band with his
usual queue of ``1-2-3-GO!'' through an almost seamless set of tunes that
never sped past three minutes. They also offered a preview of their new
upcoming album. From this they played ``The Hunger,'' which proved to be set
in the classic Misfit canon.

Such a style, no doubt, has inspired too many of the speed metal bands that
came along in the '80s. Take Anthrax, for instance, which was an unlikely
opening act after local punkers Vic Vacuum and the Attachments kicked off the

Just as they did so powerfully as headliners here in December, Anthrax
cranked out their punk-spiked speed metal and modern thrash, which has in
turn influenced a new generation of hardcore outfits.