Glenn Danzig was already raging at the heavens when he fronted his punk-era band The Misfits. Except for the Sex Pistols, no other punk band vented its sociopathic spleen so explicitly. Danzig sang the chorus of The Misfits favorite "Astro Zombies" like he meant every word: "I'd do anythin' to exterminate/The whole fuckin' human race!" But he borrowed his imagery from grade-Z movies and old EC horror comics, which served as a distancing device. When he sang "Astro Zombies," he was assuming the persona of a creature in a film by cult director Ted V. Mikels. His next band Samhain, celebrated the mysteries of the pre-Christian earth religions and went way over the noggins of the headbangers. Now Danzig rages full on.
But amid the rage lurk sadness and regret. Danzig may have given up on the church long ago, but the way he tells it in "Godless," the stunning opening track of How The Gods Kill, that wasn't a casual choice. "I can't believe in all your pain/Under the draining of a Christian deities blood," he sings. "You tell your children they're insane... I had to listen to my heart... and so you leave me godless."
For years now, Glenn Danzig's preeminence as a singer has been one of rock's best-kept secrets. The passion, vocal musicianship and drama of his singing on the title song elevate this mix of metal, brooding balladry and unforgettable imagery to sublime status. After starting out sounding like a straight-ahead metal band with affinities for both blues and thrash, Danzig the group has evolved, in the course of three albums, into a resourceful, tightly meshed unit, still rough and raw (no "power ballads" or sweet vocal harmonies, thank you) but with range and assurance.
Danzig embodies the best in contemporary hard rock while displaying an originality that trancends genres. The group's music may explore dark corners of the human soul, but it does not glamorize the darkness; Glenn Danzig is a realist, not a nihilist. His fundamental themes are spiritual death and rebirth, the liberation of the individual, the search for beauty and truth in the shadows of a cynical world. Rock is alarmingly short of visionaries these days; Danzig is the genuine article.