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Danzig - "6:66 Satans Child" (Evilive)

By: Jay Rajiva

It’s been three years since the last Danzig album, blackacidevil, on which Glenn Danzig violently shifted gears from his established doom-metal cruise control into blaring industrial overdrive. Though the effort was marginally successful, the sudden polymorph had a collagen-injected feel to it, as if Glenn was trying too hard to show us that—look!—he was still cutting edge, still on top of the metal zeitgeist, still relevant.

So you can view the last three years as the missing link between classical Danzig 4 and over-ambitious blackacidevil; at Danzig as a wannabe anti-Christ who longs to fall from earth and meet his alter-ego Lucifer on the other side; at his industrial makeover as the frantic mal-a-l’aise of an aging has-been rocker; or simply at 6:66 Satan’s Child as a record on its own terms. Any way you slice it, though, it’s hard to ignore his musical vision and its continuing survival in a day and age when the metal lords of yesteryear are being handily deposed by their younger, hipper counterparts.

Think about it. It’s 1999. Your Limp Bizkits and your Korns sport the designer clothes, scoop the vitality out of the art form, suck $$ from the kiddies. Meanwhile, Anthrax reunites with Joey Belladonna...and no one cares. Iron Maiden haven’t been more than an Iron Maiden cover band since Fear Of The Dark. Metallica’s recent history needs no explanation. It’s hard to make a good case for the old guard at the moment, and goddamn it, someone has to help the kids figure out why they should skip that Coal Chamber CD in favour of a dude who looks like a buff evil Elvis, who threatens to shoot himself in the foot by giving his latest album such an obvious, cartoonish and old-school-headbanger name.

Fortunately the answer supplies itself once you actually hear the CD, a tightly-alloyed descent into the miasmic world below built on Glenn Danzig’s post-industrial musings, evil-dead harmony and plenty of aggression. Most numbers tend to fall in the mid-tempo range, shuffling dead-eyed through corridors of quasi-Alice In Chains turbulence (“Lilin” sounds like a smoother version of AiC’s “Rain When I Die”), gliding on supple dance grooves, or just imploding—fiercely and unapologetically. And like any good Alice In Chains album, the songs are smear-coated with the same copper-and-chrome colours, compelling in their adherence to theme, but a little draining to sit through. “Satan’s Child” sounds like the second half of a song “Unspeakable” started, both playing off droning, minor-key dirges with few chords and fewer changes in mood except the expected clean verse-to-distorted-chorus dynamic—done to death by everyone from Black Sabbath to Nirvana.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t work. Fact is, Danzig the band flex the songwriting muscles here with a verve many younger acts should envy, displaying a keen sense of when to rein in the bombast and when to cut throat, quickly and efficiently. “Five Finger Crawl” is the anti-sweetpop fix you’re been craving all year, and if Danzig’s vocals don’t get recognizable or even coherent until “Cult Without A Name”, it’s easy to pick out the hymns to Lord Satan by inflection alone. The only flat-out failure on the platter is the last cut, “Thirteen”, an overreaching stab at gothic blues that just doesn’t hit the mark, despite the good intentions.

Ultimately, 6:66 Satan’s Child is well written and convincingly delivered, echoing the cold-hearted nihilistic corrosion of Nine Inch Nails and early Ministry but with a more blatantly demonic kick. It’s an album that should be felt rather than heard, drawing the most blood when the roiling, industrial grooves strike hard metal and pull you into the vortex. Danzig has survived the steam-roller crush of the neo-metal revolution and come off—surprisingly—still cutting edge, still on top of the metal zeitgeist, still relevant. This time, though, he’s not trying quite so hard to make you believe it. Maybe that’s why it works so well.

Reviewed by: Jay Rajiva

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