Back in 2017, ex-Misfits (Current? What exactly is the status of the Misfits following the Riot Fest reunions?) guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein released one of the year’s best under-the-radar metal albums in the form of Abominator, a groovy, crushing disc that came off like the bastard child of Danzig and Pantera. Collaborating with Cancerslug frontman Alex Story, Doyle was finally able to fully step into the spotlight and out of the respective shadows of Glenn Danzig and his brother Jerry Only.
According to several interviews, Doyle wrote two to three albums’ worth of material during the Abominator sessions, and some of the rotten fruits of that prolific period have finally risen from the grave four years later in the form of II: As We Die. Given the circumstances, one might expect Doyle’s sophomore effort to be made up of songs that weren’t good enough to make it onto Abominator, but nothing could be further from the truth. Songs such as “Run For Your Life” “Witchcraft” and “We Belong Dead” are every bit as good as anything off the debut.
Doyle’s riffs are as always both razor-sharp and pummeling, and when he isn’t beating you into submission, he’s making your ears bleed with gnarly pinch harmonics, or making the hair on the back of your neck stand up with that eerie feedback that he’s been conjuring effortlessly since at least Earth A.D. The guy looks like a goddamn monster and his guitar looks like a giant vampire bat, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the tones and timbres of his six-string abuse are straight-up beastly.
The album also benefits from better production, better drumming (percussion on the first album was credited to ex-Misfits skin-basher Dr. Chud, but I’m pretty sure it was a drum machine) and a more nuanced vocal performance from Alex Story, who continues to recall the greats such as Danzig and Phil Anselmo without being a carbon copy. Everyone involved brings their A+ game to the butcher’s table and quite frankly, II: As We Die mops the floor with the latest efforts from both Danzig and the current Jerry Only fronted version of the Misfits, not something anyone would have expected back in 2007 when Doyle released the rather tepid Gorgeous Frankenstein album.
At nearly forty-six minutes, II: As We Die feels a little long in places, but never to the point where it becomes boring or tiresome thanks to the stellar songwriting and performances throughout. Doyle is beginning to carve out an identity for himself outside the Misfits and this album is a massive step in the right direction; any diehard Fiend Club members that somehow missed the boat on Abominator would do well to get their gubby little claws on II: As We Die. “Once you’re dead, the fun begins.”