Saturday, July 24, 2010

Album Review: DANZIG- Deth Red Sabaoth (Evilive/The End Records)

Glenn Danzig is not a guy I would exactly call shy. A person who has spent 35 years in the public eye via the music business can be considered enigmatic, no matter how low profile he wants to be. Since the punk and metal icon is a self-confessed workaholic I was stunned when I realized it has been six years since the release of DANZIG 8: CIRCLE OF SNAKES. He constantly works on projects as varied as his Verotik Comics, films, his recent lyric/art book and his own BLACK ARIAS series of which a third is scheduled for later this year. With the release of the new DETH RED SABAOTH and a mini-tour to promote it, DANZIG the band is back to the front burner. Although Danzig himself produced the record and played many of the instruments on it, he has also assembled his best lineup to since the DANZIG IV album. In guitarist Tommy Victor (PRONG/MINISTRY), and drummer Johnny Kelly (TYPE-O-NEGATIVE/SEVENTH VOID) he has put together a talented backbone. Either Danzig or Victor played bass on every track. Some fans may not understand that irregardless of how he switches up his style from album to album, Danzig is always striving for a feel or a mood in everything he does. He is always going for the same lo-fi, punk rock and dirty blues sounds he grew up on. He has certainly achieved that to full effect here, but with all of the flavors and performances that make a modern record as well.

Upon the first listen all I can say is what a throwback! This is a record that easily fits with his first four DANZIG albums produced by the classic era of the band. Kicking things off with the rocker "Hammer of The Gods" finds the band back in top form with this up-tempo killer track. Having heard this live last week I'd recommend he keep it in the set since it matches up nicely with older songs like "Twist of Cain" and "Long Way Back from Hell". Next up is "The Revengeful" with a great vocal melody, deep lyrics and cool riffs. One thing that this new record has over its predecessor is the abundant amount of leads by Tommy Victor. Nearly every track has a least one ripping solo which is great to hear since Tommy doesn't get to cut loose and solo as much in his other bands. He is truly a guitar player's guitar player. Another real gem on DRS is the amazing lyrics. Danzig always brings the goth and the gloom to his songs, but he really has out done himself here. One example is on "Rebel Spirits" where he tips his hat to himself with a classic line like "A thousand eyes, a thousand dreams. I walk among them endlessly". Or on the bluesy anthem "Black Candy" when he croons "tastes like your going to expire" you really feel what is in his blackened heart. The single "On a Wicked Night" can be considered groundbreaking in a way for the band. The almost folk jangle of the verses is juxtaposed with a rocking and emotive chorus. With a few exceptions in all of metal no one wails on just a handful of notes like Danzig does. Another song with lyrical gravitas, Glenn's allusion to lady death coming for him and his utter contempt and lack of surprise at this just drip from the speakers. The middle tracks of the record are just a touch too soft for me in "Deth Red Moon" and "Ju Ju Bone" with the latter reminding me of a 90's DEPECHE MODE song. After that the record closes out powerfully with heavy "Night Star Hel", the two part "Pyre of Souls" and the epic closer "Left Hand Rise Above". Welcome back DANZIG! Your fiends have been waiting for this for a long time.

Grade: B+

Keith Chachkes

Friday, July 16, 2010

Three Wine Glasses

For nearly five years they rode around in the trunks of cars.
In a box meant to hold four, a box meant to protect.
Passed around from person to person to person.
Carried through every station of life and death.
Knowing they belonged to her. An inheritance neglected.
It was my burden to carry, mine to own.
It was unfair to foist it onto others.
I know this now.
Actually I have known it all along.
And I feel ashamed.
I could have reclaimed them at any time.
But I didn't until now.
Largely because I didn't want to deal with them.
Because dealing with them means acceptance.
Acceptance is something I don't do well so I avoid it.
Avoid what I am afraid to confront.
Confront what is past, what I cannot control, fix or change.
Change never comes easy. Anxiety coping mechanisms fail.
Easy is the road others have taken. Not the road I chose.
Now I have them back, but I am still searching.
Not feeling the closure I believed I would have by now.
You can’t give away your grief or sense of loss.
No more than the universe can give away dead stars.
Three flutes that don't make a sound.
A silence echoing the emptiness.
In a small pocket-sized space in my heart.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Farewell Bob Sheppard

Bob Sheppard died today at age 99. I'll do what I can to make this tribute brief and do justice to the man with my words. Although I never knew the man personally, Sheppard meant a lot to me. Many of my experiences that involve sports- and my lifelong fandom of both the Yankees and Giants involve the man. Blessed with a buttery voice and a gift for elocution, Sheppard delighted and amazed fans via his job as a public address announcer for both teams. As Reggie Jackson dubbed him "the voice of god", he was as ingrained in the soul of the fans like any mainstay of either franchise in his nearly sixty year career. Being a speech professor and a poet in his life away from sports, he had a calm, professional weight to his delivery as opposed to the carnival barker to style of today's' announcers. Many will remember him for his much loved line-up introductions for Yankees baseball. However, for me the resounding memory I will carry of him was his presence at nearly all of the Giants games I attended from 1980-2005. He was direct, concise and in the moment, but he always knew better than to overshadow the action with bloated theatrics. I can clearly hear him call out "Dorsett....spilled by Carson. Assisted by Taylor" just like it was yesterday. In my youthful dreams of entering the sports world I tried my hand at PA work in high school and I was a terrible failure at it. Sheppard's classy work was my inspiration and I'm glad I gave it a try. He may never have played a down or swung a bat, but Bob Sheppard was every bit a member of those teams he worked for; in as much as he embodied their enduring spirit. That spirit is a part of the dreams that make up the love every fan has for his favorite team. Every fan that ever heard his voice ascend from the rafters can attest to that as the truth. Farewell.