This weekend, Glenn Danzig’s Blackest of the Black Festival will take place at Oak Canyon Park in Silverado, headlined by his own Danzig band. The group is celebrating its 30th year in existence this year, and in that time it has put out 11 studio albums including this year’s Black Laden Crown. For the newbie, that’s a lot of material to sift through, so we’ve compiled 11 of Danzig’s best songs to give you a head-start…
1. Mother (from Danzig)
In July 1986, Glenn Danzig’s death-rock band Samhain performed what was to be their last show (until some reunion gigs years later) at The Ritz in New York. The following year, the band called Danzig formed and, in 1988, the self-titled debut was released. It was the first record on producer Rick Rubin’s American label, and it remains a dark, brooding, sensual, heavy beast. “Mother” was the big single and, while it’s been heavily criticized since for being cheesy, it’s actually a deftly sinister but extremely catchy tune. Danzig’s “Mother” has aged very well. No pun intended.
2. Am I Demon (from Danzig)
With lines such as, “Life without an end, Death without a name,” the fifth song on the debut was no power-ballad. This was Danzig (the man) utilizing the same lyrical horror themes that he has with both the Misfits and Samhain with a song that, while mildly reminiscent of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?,” was a monster of a heavy metal track.
3. She Rides (from Danzig)
Then-guitarist John Christ described “She Rides” as Danzig’s first sex song. It is a sensual little gem of a number, with a vivid video to go with it. But for all the dancers bending over, it’s actually Glenn’s vocals that move the songs along. Essentially describing in lurid detail what “she” is going to do, “She Rides” manages to be both sexy and heavy.
4. 777 (from Danzig II: Lucifuge)
The sophomore album was released in 1990, and this time Glenn was allowing the heavy blues influence of the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson to seep through. Not on a lame, John Mayer-esque way, but in a dark and nasty, selling your soul at the crossroads for real, sort of way. “777” is a great example of filthy blues licks and absolutely evil vocals.
5. Killer Wolf (from Danzig II: Lucifuge)
Glenn Danzig has said that “Killer Wolf” is his version of an old blues song about a guy who wolfs around the door of every girl in town, and that about covers it. “I’m the wow-ow-ulf,” he hollers, before waxing lyrical about prowling for girls. It’s a bit stalker-ish, when you dig into it a little. But then, sinister lyrics and horror movie themes are what Danzig does best.
6. How the Gods Kill (from Danzig III: How the Gods Kill)
The third album dropped in 1992, complete with stunning cover art described by H.R. Giger. This title song is a slow-burner, all about a search for knowledge within oneself. If that sounds uncharacteristically deep for a Danzig tune, that’s because it is. The song reaches the two minutes 40 seconds mark before it kicks in, the slow croon exploding into monolithic riffs and squeals, and Glenn’s bark. It’s a beauty.
7. Dirty Black Summer (from Danzig III: How the Gods Kill)
As far as this writer is concerned, “Dirty Black Summer” remains the highpoint of Danzig’s solo career. It’s an absolutely magnificent song, utilizing everything that Glenn Danzig has done well through his entire career. It swings in an old-school rock ’n’ roll way. It’s nasty and heavy, and also sexy. The riffs crunch. Not a single moment is wasted.
8. Until You Call on the Dark (from Danzig 4)
Danzig 4 was Danzig’s final album on American Records, and it was also the last one to feature the original lineup. That’s ok — the band had gone off the boil a little for this one, although it did still have its moments and “Until You Call on the Dark” is one of them. A big old groove-monster of a riff moves the whole thing along, while Glenn wails and moans. It’s like a really creepy uncle is telling you a sad bedtime story.
9. Wicked Pussycat (Danzig 777: I Luciferi)
The fifth and sixth albums weren’t horrible, but they weren’t spectacular either. Neither was 777, but “Wicked Pussycat” nearly saves the record all by itself. It was the first single from the album, which makes sense because, much like all of Danzig’s best work, it’s both brutally heavy and infectiously catchy. The album came out in 2002, when nu-metal and industrial metal were ruling the genre, and there are moments when it seems as if Danzig was paying attention to all of this without ever giving in to it. Whatever, “Wicked Pussycat” is one of Danzig’s best songs of this millenium.
10. On a Wicked Night (from Deth Red Sabaoth)
The ninth studio album (Glenn stopped numbering them after the seventh), the new lineup featured Tommy Victor of Prong and Johnny Kelly of Type O Negative. The album is also notable because Glenn produced it himself, and it charted higher than any record since the fourth. “On a Wicked Night” is a scratchy, tinny, dark garage-rock tune that seems to benefit from what one has to assume is Glenn’s limited production ability. It seems like Glenn is actually pleading for a wicked night when he does his Evil Elvis thing with the vocals. Somebody help the man out.