“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”  — Carl Jung, Psychologist 

“Everyone has a shadow-self. Those that accept their shadow are happy, peaceful and content.”  — Deepak Chopra 

“Got a little Twist of Cain from the God Below.”  — Glenn Danzig 

How can any fan of Dark Fantasy not like DANZIG? Well, I suppose if you’re not a fan of hard-hitting, guitar-driven rock with a punk edge and metal sensibilities…or if you’re offended by works of art that might challenge your conception of Christian theology…or if you just don’t like music at all (is that even possible?). 

The new DANZIG album drops on June 22...DETH RED SABAOTH. Beware...

As a life-long fan of hard rock music, I’m amazed and inspired that Glenn Danzig (at the humble age of 54) is still cranking out dark, horror-inspired rock music with all the intensity of a man in his early 20s–and with far more skill thanks to decades of honing his craft. 

While “mainstream” America might believe Danzig peaked with the early-90s radio hit “Mother,” true Danzig fans know better. That was only the beginning of one of the most fascinating and original careers in the annals of rock-and-roll history. Danzig remains an artistic powerhouse, one who never stopped perfecting his songwriting, singing, and musicianship over the years. In the music industry his reputation as a songwriter of the highest order is well recognized. In addition to punk/metal/rock, he’s written symphonic/classical albums, and even songs for the late Johnny Cash. 

Danzig's brilliant 2006 album, CIRCLE OF SNAKES, was his 8th solo release. Tommy Victor's bludgeoning guitar tones added a metallic edge to the most bombastic tracks including "1000 Devils Reign" and "Netherbound."

Some potential fans are turned away by Danzig’s preoccupation with Satanic and anti-religious themes. Lyrically, he enjoys taking on the role of demons, devils, murderers, forces of evil, or even Lucifer himself. His works often condemn the hypocrisy and brutality of historical Christianity (anybody remember the Spanish Inquisition? The Crusades?).

With album titles like Satan’s Child, Lucifuge, and I Luciferi, it’s easy to wonder if the guy is a true Satanist. Danzig has denied this. My favorite quote from him is: “I embrace both my light and dark side.” And therein lies the genius of Danzig, the man, the artist, the legend. He’s not afraid to embrace his “shadow self” and use it to empower his art.

DANZIG 6:66 SATAN'S CHILD (his 6th album, natch) marked yet another new direction for the singer, with lush production and bottom-heavy riffs that rose well above punk minimalism. The lyric "God don't love no Satan's Child" provides the provocative title, and Simon Bisley's gorgeous artwork completes the package.

Today’s psychologists and self-help gurus tell us that embracing the darker side of one’s personality is a healthy thing to do. Carl Jung (the “father” of modern psychology) said decades ago that any dark or shameful thoughts that are repressed only grow stronger and can cause mental health problems. Today we have books such as THE SHADOW EFFECT by Chopra, Ford, and Williamson, an instruction manual for confronting, embracing, and ultimately overcoming your own Dark Side. (No, George Lucas didn’t invent the whole “Dark Side” idea, nor did Jack Kirby. It’s real, dude.)

Danzig 5: BLACKACIDEVIL was a total surprise for Danzig fans: a blend of techno-industrial beats, noise rock, and punk attitude laced with Danzig's trademark horror imagery. By making such a dramatic shift way from his accustomed sound, he gained a legion of new fans and proved that he could not be pigeonholed. It was the beginning of Phase 2 of his career, and the first album without the backing band who had played on his first four albums. Some Danzig fans avoid this album; personally, I love it.

This is where Danzig’s albums play a role in my own life. There is nothing quite so providing of release, so therapeutic, so pulse-quickening as some outrageously loud, overly aggressive, bass-thumping, window-rattling Hard Rock blasting from my amplified speakers (or my car stereo). Glenn Danzig’s genius is how he combines driving rhythms, killer guitar hooks, and soulful-yet-powerful singing with the morbid beauty of Dark Fantasy and Horror. 

A comics fan from boyhood, Danzig presents the sonic side of his muse with some of the best packaging in rock: His albums feature exquisite artwork by some of the best artists working in and out of comics. From Simon Bisley to Joe Chiodo to Martin Emond (R.I.P.) to H.R. Giger, the art of any Danzig album is just as important as the music it contains…the visual side of a multi-sensory creation. Back in 1987 his first solo album (self-titled) introduced the “horned skull” image, which remains one of the most iconic and enduring images in the history of rock. The final jewel in Danzig’s dark crown are his provocative, horror-laden, and inciteful lyrics. 

777: I LUCIFERI was Danzig's 7th album, which kept the heaviness of SATAN'S CHILD but moved back toward raw, punk-style production. It stands as one of his greatest achievements (and one of his scariest albums), with terrific guitar work by Todd Youth (of The Chelsea Smiles and Murphy's Law). "Kiss the Skull" and "Wicked Pussycat" are some of the best in Danzig's repetoire.

A new Danzig album is an experience in Dark Fantasy every bit as powerful as your favorite writer’s newest novel. In fact, Danzig’s albums are very much like novels…or short story collections…exploring the shadow-side of human nature (and demonic nature). We live in a world that is equal parts Good and Evil…and every human being is at once an Angel and a Demon. It’s the choices we make that determine the road we travel. This is the very heart of the Human Condition: the endless struggle between Selflessness and Selfishness. (Good and Evil as terms are too simplistic.) 

Danzig’s love of horror comics, horror movies, and the occult infuse each of his albums with a dark intensity often bordering on the malevolent. He has cast himself as the Demon King, the Tortured Soul, the Prince of Pain, the Master of Darkness. But at the heart of all this posturing is the soul of The Artist struggling for expression. Like many of the great artists he challenges his listeners, often to the point of frightening them. 

DANZIG III: HOW THE GODS KILL is a true classic. One of the best Danzig albums to sing along to as you're listening. The band here had gelled on its third album to a solid chemistry of blues-metal perfection. "Dirty Black Summer" was a huge hit, even while "grunge" bands were dominating the rock scene of the early 90s.

He takes the Great Christian Mythology as the prime framework for his storytelling (and he first and foremost a Storyteller)…a mythos ripe with fallen angels, hungry devils, winged succubi, godly plagues, suffering, death…and enlightenment. 

For example, the song “God of Light” from I Luciferi evokes an unstated comparison between Satan, who dispensed forbidden knowledge in the Christian Bible, and Prometheus, the Greek god who brought the forbidden knowledge of Fire to humanity and was condemned by Zeus.  Or “Bringer of Death” from Danzig 4, where he sings: “See the Devil kiss the hand of God, See the Devil crying tears of Blood, See the Devil bite the hand of Christ, And know the Devil is the work of God.”  

Another great Simon Bisley painting graced the cover of THE LOST TRACKS OF DANZIG, a two-disc collection of rarities, remixes, and unreleased material spanning Danzig's entire career. Some real jewels here including "Warlock," "Malefical," "Soul Eater," and "Lick the Blood Off My Hands." Yikes!

There is far more to Danzig’s body of work, however, than Christian deconstructionism…most of it is pure fantasy of the darkest flavor. He is particularly enamoured of sinister, powerful, women who may or may not be demons. “Her Black Wings,” “Lilin,” “Circle of Snakes,” “Serpentia,” “Wicked Pussycat,” “Lady Lucifera,” “Apokalips,” and “She Rides” are hymns to such pagan beauties. It’s no wonder his fan base includes a substantial portion of wickedly beautiful women, as any live Danzig show will attest. 

Danzig has a brand-new album called DETH RED SABAOTH to be released on June 22. There is a free advance track, “On a Wicked Night,” available for listening at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MREBqMtJeao  The track isn’t what you might expect, but a low-key ballad with typically soulful singing over restrained guitar. Fans might compare it to the terrific “Thirteen” from the Satan’s Child album, or “I Don’t Mind the Pain,” from Danzig 4. My guess is that Glenn’s saving the truly heavy tracks for those who buy the album. 

DETH RED SABAOTH is Danzig’s 9th solo album. He usually replaces his backing band with each album, although some musicians seem to rotate in-and-out of his group, such as former Prong guitarist Tommy Victor, who played on the superbly crunchy Circle of Snakes album, and does guitar duties on SABAOTH; and drummer Joey Castillo (from Queens of the Stone Age), who has banged the skins on more than one Danzig album.

Danzig’s doing only 9 live shows to support this album…I’ve already secured my ticket to see him at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on July 27. It shall be a gathering of Wicked Pussycats and black-clad rockers the likes of which is rarely seen in the Bay City. Walls will rattle, roofs will quake, pulses will race. We will embrace the shadow as one, and so free ourselves of its malevolent power. 

Danzig and his music are proof that Dark Fantasy need not be limited to prose fiction. True art knows no bounds. Light and Shadow are bound together in an infinite dance. Good and Evil are two sides of the same cosmic coin. To create true Understanding, you must consider the Whole. Only by journeying through the darkness can we reach the light. 

Don’t be scared. It’s only rock and roll… 

Peace! 

John 

Mike Kaluta's Demon/Angel "yin-yang" image from DANZIG 4 expresses the concept of "Good and Evil" or "Dark and Light" as being two sides of the same coin, i.e. the forces that compose the universe. Later, Danzig would express this sentiment in such songs as "Black Angel, White Angel," from CIRCLE OF SNAKES.