THKD’s Top 100 Metal Albums #11: Danzig – Danzig II: Lucifuge (Def American, 1990)

Danzig-Danzig-II-Lucifuge

How in the blue hell did I manage to get even this far into the THKD Top 100 without covering a Danzig album?!  Granted, the list is in no particular order, but given my Danzig super-fan status, you’d think I would’ve touched on one of the man’s records within the first few posts.  The bands/artists you love the most are always the most difficult to write about and let’s face it, I’ve already devoted a fairly exhaustive amount of digital ink to the goddamn mighty GD (here, here, here, here… need I go on?).  What’s left to say about my love for the man and his music at this point?

Turns out there’s still plenty left to say.  Of all the recordings Glenn Danzig has put his name to, Lucifuge is my all-time favorite.  While many point to How the Gods Kill as the ultimate Danzig album, for me this is the one where the transition from Samhain to Danzig fully cemented itself, and features some of the man’s best songs to boot.  I mean, just look at that fucking track list!  You’ve got the howling blues of “Killer Wolf!”  The bruising, serpentine riffage of “Snakes of Christ!”  The soulful balladry of “Blood and Tears!” “The wickedly delightful catchiness of “Devil’s Plaything!”  Danzig has always been great, but he’s rarely been better singing and songwriting-wise than he was on Lucifuge.  More so than on any other album in his vast catalog, Lucifuge is the one where Danzig let his classic influences guide him to musical perfection.  One can hear echoes of Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Elvis and Howlin’ Wolf, as if GD allowed himself to be possessed by their spirits and then channeled them through his singular gothic metal approach.

So far I’ve only talked about Danzig the man, but one must also give credit to Danzig the band as a whole for this stellar piece of work. Guitarist John Christ is one of the most underrated metal six-stringers ever to strap on a BC Rich, and it his ability to bring these riffs to life that makes Lucifuge what it is.  Christ has a thorough understanding of both the blues and heavy metal and knows exactly how to balance the two, making him the perfect foil for Danzig’s songwriting style.  His leads and solos are dexterous yet tasteful, always supporting the song rather than mindlessly showing off.  The rhythm section of Chuck Biscuits and Eerie Von is simply one of the best heavy metal has ever seen; tight and thunderous without overwhelming the music.  Biscuits in particular deserves credit for his hard-hitting yet nuanced performance; Danzig would never work with a better drummer.

Indeed, great songs and great performances make the album, but it’s also important to note what a great sounding album Lucifuge is. With its dry-as-the-desert mix there’s no doubt that Lucifuge is a product of the nineties, but that mix is one of the most perfectly balanced I’ve ever encountered.  There is no one dominant element; instead the vocals and instruments mesh together beautifully to create something that both caresses and punishes your ears, and sounds awesome whether being cranked through stereo speakers at top volume or quietly enjoyed on headphones.  If one wanted to make a case against the dreaded “loudness wars,” Lucifuge would make one hell of an “Exhibit A.”

In my 4th of July/American metal albums feature from a few years back, I said: “With Lucifuge, Glenn Danzig perfected his diabolical master plan to spot-weld delta blues, fifties rock and goth onto a heavy metal framework” and I can’t think of a better way to sum things up.  I love all the albums on this list, but Lucifuge is one of those albums I love so much that I feel like I’d die without it in my life.  Not only is it a great Danzig album, but it opened me up to a whole world of music (blues, country, etc) that I probably never would’ve explored otherwise, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

THKD’s Top 100 Metal Albums
1. Celestial Season – Solar Lovers + an introduction to THKD’s Top 100 Metal Albums
2. Type O Negative – October Rust
3. Grand Belial’s Key – Judeobeast Assassination
4. Mayhem – Live in Leipzig
5. Helmet – Meantime
6. Metallica – Ride the Lightning
7. God Dethroned – The Toxic Touch
8. In Flames – Reroute to Remain
9. Ministry – Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs
10. Ministry – Filth Pig
11. Danzig – Danzig II: Lucifuge

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