Over the past several years, Jerry Only has been both lauded for keeping the Misfits alive and demonized for continuing to milk the Crimson Ghost cash-cow. To say that I’ve been skeptical of the Jerryfits would be an understatement; aside from the Project: 1950 covers album, I hadn’t checked any of the band’s post-Michale Graves discography until this year. Sure, Project: 1950 was a fun little experiment, but there was just something about Only continuing to front the band that didn’t sit well with me.
As is often the case, morbid curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give 2011’s The Devil’s Rain a shot. I’ve been listening to it for a few weeks now and although it certainly has its flaws and is nowhere near the greatness that the previous Misfits eras gave us, it isn’t all that bad for what it is.
For this incarnation of the Misfits, Only has stripped away the darkness and violence of the Danzig era and the more metal-leaning tendencies of the Graves era, instead choosing to emphasize the band’s late ’50s / early ’60s rock influences and amp up the B-movie madness. What you’re essentially getting with tracks such as “Curse of the Mummy’s Hand” “The Black Hole” and “Unexplained” is pop punk, and your ability to enjoy the album as a whole is going to hinge upon your enjoyment of that sugary-sweet subgenre, as well as how much you can avoid comparing this version of the Misfits to what came before.
It’s also going to hinge on your ability to look past the album’s many flaws. Like many modern rock albums, The Devil’s Rain is too goddamn long. Clocking in at fifty minutes, the album is padded with too many filler tracks and let’s be honest, a punk rock album should never breach the half-hour mark. The other major issue is the vocals; Only is an ok vocalist, but ok simply doesn’t cut it for a band that built its reputation on the outstanding vocals of Glenn Danzig and Michale Graves. There are some really well-written songs here, such as “Twilight of the Dead” “Where Do They Go?” and the title track, but I can’t help but think about how amazing they’d be with Graves on vocals. The less said about “Jack the Ripper” and “Death Ray,” for which guitarist Dez Cadena takes the vocal reins, the better.
The Devil’s Rain is a fun enough album to warrant occasional listens; it’s never going to get more plays than Walk Among Us or even Famous Monsters, but it does manage to somewhat overcome its imperfections and deliver an enjoyable if inessential slab of monster movie bubblegum punk. It definitely isn’t going to change the minds of Only’s many detractors, but those that are willing to approach with an open mind may find something of worth.