By Bill Adams
At this point, it wouldn’t matter what sort of album the Misfits released, it would have a tremendous amount to answer for. The first reason for that is the fact that it’s been eleven years since an album of new material came from the band; because of that, the question of whether or not the band would be in any kind of fighting condition is a valid one. Second, with a history so steeped in acrimony (founding singer Glenn Danzig eventually conceded the right to use the band’s name and image on new records), there would be an enormous magnifying glass on the band; watching to see if they’d be able to continue to do their own legacy justice. This is, after all, the Misfits; a band which has come to be revered as patron saints by both punk rockers and the goth community alike, and has been now for decades. The number of songs and images associated with the band are many, and they’ve become keystones in the foundations of entire communities of both musicians and fans. That’s a tall order for any band to live down – how could they hope to do it?
As it turns out, how the Misfits have carried on with The Devil’s Rain makes so much sense, it’s crazy; this time out, the band has ignored all of the extraneous nonsense surrounding their name and concentrated on refreshing themselves with a tight and rock solid new album which incorporates only the basic essentials of their long-revered past. True, there are punk songs informed informed/complimented by horror movie cliches, but that’s where the similarities end. This album is clearly all about re-establishing the Misfits as a creative entity and that focus is plainly apparent from the moment the album’s title track crashes to life and opens the proceedings.
All comparisons to the band’s old forms really do evaporate the further listeners tread into The Devil’s Rain. Here, guitarist Dez Cadena (ex-Black Flag) delivers a(nother) career-defining performance as his guitar swaggers methodically in and snipes out some fantastic, molten lines which are contrasted beautifully against Eric “Chupacabra” Arce‘s simple, punishing drums. Songs like “Land Of The Dead,” “Curse Of The Mummy’s Hand,” “Jack The Ripper” and “Monkey’s Paw” are made on the interplay between the drums and guitars, but (as good as they are) they’d still be nothing without Only‘s shockingly dextrous vocals, which do justice to the band’s dynasty but also step further and establish that Only is, well, the only man who could have succeeded Danzig. Sounding like a meaner, leaner little brother to the Misfits’ original lead singer, Only plays his ‘Joisey’ accent off the innate darkness present in the songs and arrives at a perfect presentation for this new permutation of the Misfits; it is hard and sleazy where Danzig was decadent and rough where the band’s old singer was given to simpering. The results are precisely everything longtime fans could hope for in a new Misfits album, and an excellent introduction for new listeners who like punk but find it a little light and want something which will make the hairs on the backs of their necks stand at attention.
All that praise is one thing, but it’s still impossible to ignore the fact that The Devil’s Rain comes eleven years after the band’s last album of original material, Famous Monsters. What took so long? What is The Devil’s Rain? A one-off for fun? Let’s hope not – this album is the sort which will have fans hoping the Misfits are back for good.
Bill Adams is the editor-in-chief of groundcontrolmag.com