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Danzig: 'Black Laden Crown'
Released Friday 26th May 2017 (Evilive/Nuclear Blast)

johnny main
Words: Johnny Main


Glenn Danzig, the 'Evil Elvis', is back with his eleventh studio album, 'Black Laden Crown' – and it's a long overdue return to form for the musical legend who, at 61-years-of-age, has had an impressive career where the highs have also matched the lows.

Born Glenn Allen Anzalone in June 1955, he began to take an interest in music at an early age, taking piano and clarinet lessons as a child. It's said that he later taught himself how to play the guitar and at the age of just eleven, he was working as a drum roadie for local garage bands, before joining several bands as vocalist during his teenage years due to his already impressive vocal prowess.

In the mid-1970s, Danzig started the legendary band, Misfits, releasing their records through his own label, Plan 9 Records, however, he disbanded the group in late 1983, having released three albums ('Walk Among Us', 'Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood' and the live album, 'Evilive') due to in-fighting between the band members.

A new project, Samhain followed quickly, with their debut album, 'Initium' being released in 1984. An EP, 'Unholy Passion', followed in 1985 and then the bands second full length release, 'November-Coming-Fire' came out in 1986 by which time Samhain were attracting interest from major record labels. In a surprising move, a recommendation from then-Metallica bass player Cliff Burton saw the band sign to Rick Rubin's fledgling Def American label.


Samhain would soon change their name to Danzig, and so dawned a golden period for the band and the man. The 'Danzig' album was released in 1988 and contained classic tracks like 'Twist Of Cain, 'She Rides' and, arguably the bands best known track, 'Mother' and set the template for the next couple of albums. 'Danzig II: Lucifuge' and 'Danzig III: How The Gods Kill' appeared in 1990 and 1992 respectively which only cemented Danzig's reputation for mixing Blues Rock with Heavy Rock, all topped off with his unique vocal sound.

From here on, Danzig (the band) started a slow slide downhill, at the same time that the list of ex-band members began to grow quite lengthy. 'Danzig 4' (1994) and 1996's 'Danzig 5: Blackacidevil' would feature more of an Industrial Metal sound while the turn of the century's 'Danzig 6:66: Satan's Child' (1999), 'Danzig 777: I Luciferi' (2002) along with 2004s 'Circle Of Snakes' releases would have more of a Doom Metal sound to them than some of the previous releases.

Glenn Danzig may not have been recording much between 2004 and 2010, but he still had a healthy appetite for stage performances and these years saw him tour regularly in North America although there were relatively few appearances in Europe, and next to none in the UK. In the last few years, however, Danzig has indicated in interviews that he would like to stop touring and, in fact, in 2015 he stated during an interview that his then current tour could well be his last. In a surprise move, however, he joined up with Jerry Only and Only's brother Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein in 2016 to perform a number of live shows under the Misfits banner for the first time in over thirty years, but he quickly retreated to the studio to begin work on the as yet unreleased 'Danzig Sings Elvis' album and also tracks for what would become 'Black Laden Crown'.

'Black Laden Crown' itself features nine tracks, once again all penned by Danzig himself, and it's the band's first album of original material since 'Deth Red Sabaoth' in 2010, which I always felt was something of a disappointment. It's taken three years to complete this new record, and it was recorded with four different drummers, while the guitars were handled by Danzig himself and his long-time collaborator Tommy Victor (Ministry/Prong) and it absolutely restores my faith in Danzig and it is without a doubt one of his finest efforts in a very long time.

The title track, 'Black Laden Crown', starts things off on a slow and moody tone with some sparse vocals shining the spotlight on the music, albeit with a fuzzy undercurrent to it, but even here it's clear that despite his age, Danzig's voice is still as strong as ever. Following on from that, the sound quality improves as there's a marked difference in the sound between the first track and the following two.

First up is 'Eyes Ripping Fire' with its long intro of guitar and drums with a much deeper, heavier sound than previously but you're still nearly a minute in before the crunching guitar riff reveals itself and the vocals finally kick in. This sounds like Danzig of old and its plain you see he's lost none of the fire and passion in his performance. The follow up, 'Devil On Hwy 9', is probably the best of the lot, though. Again it has the sound of classic Danzig – it's noisy, abrasive but so much fun at the same time. The squealing guitar intro backed up with drums gives way to a killer guitar riff and scarcely has Danzig's voice sounded any better. There's a simple and catchy chorus and what's not to like about the whole thing? That's two potential Danzig classic tracks right there!

'The Witching Hour' retains the slower tempo of previous numbers, and its another which showcases Danzig's voice before the long instrumental section allows the musicians to flex their muscles once again as the tempo increases slowly up towards a crescendo. Sure, the guitar solo may be understated and pushed towards the back of the mix but that's a minor gripe on what is another great track.

'Skulls & Daisies' has the drums dictating the tempo but even then they're swamped by the vocals and guitar. One of the more tuneful guitar passages on the record, it doesn't really deviate much throughout the track whilst 'Blackness Falls' is all about the power-chords during the intro before the track picks up the pace and becomes a mid-tempo track with a relatively laid back performance from Danzig.

As I said, it's clear that this album puts Danzig's career back on track after more than a decade of experimentation and trying to fit into different genres, and it's successful because he's doing what he does best vocally and musically. Whether this is a return to form and a template for future releases or him bowing out of his career on a near classic album, only time will tell.

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You can see Danzig live here:
Saturday 27th May: Blackest Of The Black Festival, Oak Canyon Park, Silverado
Thursday 29th June: Sweden Rock Festival, Norjeboke
Saturday 1st July: Provinssi Rock Festival, Seinäjoki

'Black Laden Crown' tracklist:
Black Laden Crown
Eyes Ripping Fire
Devil On Hwy 9
Last Ride
The Witching Hour
But A Nightmare
Skulls & Daisies
Blackness Falls
Pull The Sun

Danzig are:
Glenn Danzig – Vocals/Guitar
Tommy Victor – Guitar/Bass Guitar
Joey Castillo – Drums
Johnny Kelly – Drums
Karl Rockfist – Drums
Dirk Verbeuren – Drums


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