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Danzig: Live on the Black Hand Side *
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*


DANZIG: Live on the Black Hand Side
(Courtesy of All Music Guide)

It's been 11 years since Danzig made music that was marginally significant, and it's been even longer since he last collaborated with the Misfits, the seminal punk band he co-founded with Jerry Caiafa in 1977.

Since breaking up his original backup band (Eerie Von, Chuck Biscuits, John Christ) after the release of Danzig IV, Danzig has been touring and recording with an ever-changing cast of heavy metal stagehands, producing loud, abrasive rock filled with masturbatory solos and the obligatory nods to the buff crooner's favorite muse, Lucifer. Now, diehard fans can feast on Live on the Black Hand Side, a two-disc souvenir that commemorates Danzig's fall from grace in a conveniently chronological fashion.

The first disc captures Danzig in the early '90s, performing all the, um, "hits" from his first lousy solo effort, 1992's Danzig III: How the Gods Kill. (If Danzig and Danzig II treaded cautiously along the fine line between clever and stupid, How the Gods Kill boldly crossed it, venturing into the realm of self-parody.) The guitars are screaming, and Danzig's distinctive crooning (imagine an unholy hybrid of Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley and Dio) adds a bit of raw passion to fine renditions of "Dirty Black Summer" and "Pain in the World," but the recording is muddy, and the vocals distorted enough to make lesser numbers like "Godless" and "How the Gods Kill" unlistenable.

The second disc isn't much better. Amazingly, the sound quality is worse, which is odd, considering that it was recorded with big, expensive equipment in 2000. Nevertheless, it's more of the same -- Danzig performing a handful of early hits and recent misses with varying degrees of success. This time, he's accompanied by guitarist Todd Youth, bassist Howie Pyro and drummer Joey Castillo, metalheads who clearly lack the sense of restraint that made Von, Biscuits and Christ such a tight unit. The band plunders through perfunctory renditions of "Mother," "Twist of Cain" and "She Rides," as well as material from recent missteps like 1999's Satan's Child and 2000's Blackacidevil, but the music is barely audible. Even Danzig sounds disinterested.

And maybe he was. Rumor has it that Danzig prefers the studio to the stage, which might explain why he rarely tours. But it doesn't come close to explaining why he released Live on the Black Hand Side, a wildly inconsistent collection that plays like a second-rate bootleg. -- Rossiter Drake


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