I attend every Danzig show I can, no matter the incarnation. Glenn’s music is a church of sorts for me, I unapologetically worship the man. For Misfits, I’ll travel across state-lines. For Danzig, I’ll stay in traffic for hours and end up home the next morning. For Samhain, fuck it, I’ll sell an organ to get through the door. For all Glenn Danzig’s done for punk, metal, and dark aesthetics in general, if it wasn’t for him, I would be on a completely different course in life.
Danzig I was the first record I ever bought. For months before buying it, I would just stare at the Crystal Skull on the cover until my curiosity and fear got the best of me and I bought it almost to test myself and see if I could handle this dark, evil force. Lately, Danzig has been playing shows to celebrate what might be his most iconic album Danzig III: How the Gods Kill. It’s an album any true fan has to love but it’s Danzig II: Lucifuge that I find is often underrepresented but features a few of my most beloved tracks. One of those tracks, “Blood and Tears”, is the one signature Danzig slow jam I yearned to hear ever since I had first seen Danzig. For years, this itch would be left unscratched. Most of the slow songs would end up getting overlooked like “I’m The One”, “Sistinas”, or “Can’t Speak”. Then on this hallowed November night on Halloween Hell Bash, I finally got to hear “Blood and Tears”. The moment Danzig said he was moving on to Danzig II in his set and that the next song began slow, I knew my wait was over. It was a moment I’ll hold dear for a very long time.
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I arrived at the festival in time to see legendary metal three-piece Venom Inc. With two members of the original Venom, guitarist Jeff “Mantas” Dunn and drummer Anthony “Abaddon” Bray, partnering with singer/bassist Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, the trio maintains the speedy insanity that catapulted the original band to its cult status. You could hear how this sound inspired every extreme metal act that came after, from black to death, Venom was the birth of insanity in metal. I’ve seen Venom Inc. before, at Danzig’s Blackest of the Black festival, and I have to say that performance was better than this one. That one was during the day and the entire festival was standing, so perhaps there was a greater propensity to lose your mind. At this show, where most of the metal heads were confined to seats, the band felt like the best club act ever playing the wrong stage.
Prior to this show, I felt like I had seen The Damned too many times. I was almost dreading hearing them again and having to pretend I was into a show I had been over-exposed to. How wrong I was. I forgot that The Damned are incredible every time they grace a stage, capturing an audience’s imagination while showing people why punk took over the world in the first place. From Dave Vanian’s charismatic darkness, to Captain Sensible’s humorous, no-fucks-given-at-all attitude, the band has a special alchemy that makes them as timeless as vampires.
This Danzig set began like most others, the eerie horror intro signaled what was to come as red lights pulsed over the stage. We anticipate Danzig like a knife through a movie starlet’s heart at the climax of our most dreaded cinema nightmares. Once that first serrated riff to “Skincarver” strikes, the band goes into a song that sets the tone for the rest of the show. When your first song features the chorus “all the world must die”, there’s no way generate any kind of forgiveness or warmth from the audience. We want blood, you’ve given us a taste, Glenn. Going into “Eyes Ripping Fire” and “Devil on Highway 9”, the latest songs released by Danzig were delivered with the same demonic chime his classics carry. Cool, cinematic, and evil, the three key ingredients to a good Danzig tune.
Pulling the first classic out of his bag of tricks, Danzig whipped out “Twist of Cain”, a song you can sing along to the lyrics or riff of, it’s so iconic. The band kept riding their first album, my introduction to music, with songs like “Not of This World”, and “Am I Demon”, until switching gears into Danzig II and delivering this article’s namesake, “Blood and Tears”.
Seeing all the videos and comments posted since the show, it’s clear all the die hard Danzig fans shared my fulfilled feelings after hearing the song. Our next request is “Sistinas”, Glenn… hell, do a whole set of slow songs. “Tired of Being Alive” and “Snakes of Christ” rounded out the Danzig II portion of the set and allowed the band to launch right into the third album’s title track “How the Gods Kill”. Following that with “Do you Wear the Mark”, “Dirty Black Summer”, and “Left Hand Black”, Danzig played one song off of Danzig IV, “Bringer of Death” before closing the set with “Mother”.
A lot of people harp on Danzig because his voice hasn’t lasted through his older-age but this show was a good example of how it still stays strong enough to carry an epic performance. He returned to the stage to deliver an encore which featured the dark and sexy “She Rides” then the final curtain call for the evening, “Long Way Back From Hell”.
What I love about Danzig is that he’s an artist that doesn’t concern his audience with any form of nostalgia. When you see Danzig you’re in for two hours that take you to hell and back and never would he dare disrupt the ride to be self indulgent unless it was to tell someone to fuck off. Danzig’s music doesn’t make you feel old even if you began listening to it when you were ten years old. He’s always stayed true to the idea his music represents. Evil, in my case the kind that drew me to dark movies, art, and music ever since I was obsessed with drawing monsters as a kid. Whether evil stands alone, victorious or in battle against good, you come to know it well in the two hours you listen to Glenn’s stories.
Words by: Robert Shepyer
Photos by: Jessica Moncrief