In October of 1988, Sonic Youth released Daydream Nation, an album littered with references to the speculative cyberpunk fiction of William Gibson. While I have never read Gibson’s work (though I have seen the god-awful film adaptation Johnny Mnemonic), it is my understanding that his writing predicted many of the technological and cultural developments we now take for granted, including the ubiquitous influence of computers and the Internet on our daily lives. Just as Gibson’s writings predicted these developments in technology, so too did Daydream Nation predict developments in rock music; if there is such a thing as “speculative music,” then surely Sonic Youth’s sprawling masterpiece (and really their early career as a whole) falls squarely into this category.
For the most part, everyone already knows the scoop on American Psycho; after years of bitter legal disputes with Glenn Danzig, bassist Jerry Only was finally given the rights to record and perform under the Misfits name. Recruiting new drummer Dr. Chud and vocalist Michale Graves along with longtime guitarist/Only’s brother Doyle, the resurrected Misfits signed with Geffen records and released their first album in nearly a decade-and-a-half. End of history lesson.
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.
All of these album anniversaries are starting to make me feel old. But with that said, I can think of few better to celebrate than the silver anniversary of what is arguably Danzig’s masterpiece, How The Gods Kill. I can’t remember exactly what year I bought the album, but I do remember picking it up at one of the three record stores that populated the local shopping mall (ah, the good ol’ days), bringing it home and subsequently being blown away. It immediately struck me as one of the deepest, darkest albums I’d ever heard up to that point in my life, and given that I was still an impressionable teenager, I’d like to think it was one of the key albums that helped to propel me down the path of heavy music.
Given how revered the Glenn Danzig-lead incarnation of the Misfits is and how few people had the opportunity to see them in concert during their heyday, it seems more than a bit unusual that there is only one official live album from that era, the rough and ragged Evilive. Thankfully, there are a ton of unofficial releases floating around out there, the latest of which is Wasp Queens, a full 1982 live set from NYC’s Irving Plaza with a radio interview from 1981 tacked on for good measure.
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.
I had an intro written and ready to go, reflecting on all the good and bad that heavy music in 2015 had to offer (mostly bad), but then I remembered that no one reads these long-winded, pointless intros. So, without further ado, here are eleven musical things (not just albums) that grabbed a hold of my crank and kept on yanking in 2015…