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Despite its production faults, 7:77 I Luciferi is an album of great songs. I say “great songs” and not great album because the album itself suffers greatly from poor sound mixing. As an album, the quality of Danzig’s singing is diminished by an overbearing instrument mixing, which deters from what would otherwise be some of Danzig’s most ominous vocal work, particularly on such songs as “Black Mass,” “Dead Inside,” and the harrowing album finale “Without Light I Am.” This is very unfortunate and almost ruins the overall quality of the album, particularly because Danzig fans listen to these albums for the man himself. The band is good, and there is some great harmony among them on this album, but what would have been an excellent doom laden album is instead an album of excellent but poorly mixed songs.
Danzig himself is fantastic on this album. He’s been around for a long time, but his age does not diminish his singing abilities, though one would not know it after listening to “Black Mass,” a song that is one of the most depressingly grim songs I had ever heard at the time. The poor mixing of instruments and vocals makes Danzig sound as though he is unsure of himself as a singer and is compensating by singing at half capacity. Anyone who is familiar with his previous work is well aware that that would never happen. The man is a great singer, and if that doesn’t sell it, he’s also to prideful to allow himself to half-ass his singing no matter how unfitting his voice may be for the song. Neither of these are the case, however. The sound mixing is just that bad.
This is made more of a shame by the fact that the song is fantastic. The tone is grim, the lyrics are cryptic and well written, and the melody is…well, it’s a dark fucking song. The lyrics make on feel as though he or she were in the middle of a cult ritual: “I press the dagger to the center of my heart/of my heart/I hold you close within the circle/of my arms.” References to “the bornless one” and “in the name of the damned” add greater elements of cultism and damnation that further the overall tone of the song and album. Were the mixing quality not so poor, I would rank this among Danzig’s very best albums. It still makes my personal top five, but it does not make the top three, which is still reserved for his first three albums from third to first.
There are some excellent high points on the album, such as “The Coldest Sun” and “Without Light I Am” which boast some outstanding vocalizations. The end of “Without Light I Am” is an inspired mantra of Danzig bellowing the title of the song. Played at the proper volume…LOUD…this mantra is soul wrenching and emotionally driven. When I first listened to it, I turned the volume up so loud my roommate thought that I was listening to opera. Yes, opera! These high points of the album are not overpowered by the low production quality and make it an album worth adding to the collection. Unfortunately, pushing the bass level up on the speakers can actually drown the singing out of certain songs entirely, and isn’t that the best part of listening to a metal album: not turning the bass up too high? Sorry Glenn. Your songs are great, but the producer was shit!
As evidenced by the albums after this one not being identified by numbers, this 2002 effort is the last installment of Glenn Danzig's seven-album concept arc (Though I'm not really sure what the concept really is. Anyone care to enlighten me?) and has been seen as a return to form of sorts for the band. It was also the last album to feature Queens Of The Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo as well as the only album to feature bassist Howie Pyro and guitarist Todd Youth.
Before I get to the music itself, I'd like to make a quick note on the production; it's pretty bad. The mixing makes everything sound too distant and the instruments don't mesh together too well. I've gotten fairly used to this lo-fi production with bands like Darkthrone but it really doesn't work with a project like Danzig. I'm pretty sure I've heard Garage Band demos that sound better than this!
Fortunately, the music itself is pretty solid and largely sticks to a more stripped down approach in comparison to the band's last two efforts. The vocal effects are only used sparingly for the most part and "The Coldest Sun" is the closest thing we've really got to industrial influence on here. Of course, there is a hint of modern metal influence in the grinding guitar tone and the band still lacks the blues influence that made it so unique in the 90's...
While the band's performance is fairly decent overall, there are times when things feel disjointed and you get reminded of the group's thrown-together nature in comparison to earlier lineups. Danzig himself sounds relatively energized though he often gets drowned out by the other instruments. But while the following "Circle Of Snakes" has the same problem and thankfully compensates by having a pretty powerful guitar tone, the bandmates on this album don't have as much personality in comparison. I know I shouldn't expect the original lineup but it could be due to the production more than anything...
But with there being thirteen tracks on the album, it is only fitting that it tackles several different styles. Following the strange intro known as "Unendlich," we've got some upbeat numbers ("Black Mass," "Wicked Pussycat," "Kiss the Skull," "Halo Goddess Bone"), dissonant tracks ("God Of Light," "Liberskull"), largely acoustic ballads ("Dead Inside," "Angel Blake"), songs that appear to be channeling old school Maiden ("I Luciferi," "Naked Witch"), and all-out doom metal ("The Coldest Sun," "Without Light, I Am"). There are a few songs that feel like filler but I don't think there are any truly bad songs on here. "Black Mass" is definitely the best track of the lot and flirts with a classic status with its driving beat and solid hooks. I also appreciate the awkward fun of "Wicked Pussycat" (Let's face it; I'm not sure if Danzig can really do "sexy" anymore...), the melancholic touches on "Dead Inside," the grinding riffs on "Liberskull" and "Kiss the Skull," and the underrated "Without Light, I Am."
Ultimately, I think this album would have been a lot better if a number of songs had been more developed. The title track, "Naked Witch," and "The Coldest Sun" all scream for a classic status with their particularly awesome guitar tones, but something in the deliveries keeps them from fully catching fire. Also, "Angel Blake" features some nifty vocal lines but is brought down by a somewhat dull atmosphere and distracting lyrics.
All in all, I think this is one of Danzig's weaker effects but there are still plenty of enjoyable moments to be found on here. It'd probably be a lot better if it had been written and released earlier in the group's career. Of course, I'm not sure how legit that excuse really is when you look at the albums that came after this one...
My Current Favorites:
"Black Mass," "Wicked Pussycat," "Dead Inside," "Kiss The Skull," and "Without Light, I Am"
Being that this album has been subjected to more than a couple of half-baked reviews, I felt obliged to contribute my opinion. Frankly, "7:77 - I, Luciferi" is not the steaming turd that more than a few have claimed it to be. It is not a bit below average, either. This is a solid record from the unsinkable Glenn Danzig, the Godfather of Ghoul Rock. An average effort: no more, no less. This was essentially made possible by a few superb stand-out tracks that kept the record from falling beneath its own weight, but the fact is there, regardless. As mentioned, this album is (obviously) far superior to the stinker that was Blackacidevil, but it also proves to be more impressive than Danzig's effort prior to "7:77 - I, Luciferi", the mediocre "6:66 - Satan's Child". By now, Glenn has completely nixed all electronic and industrial elements, opting for a more traditional guitar, drums and bass approach. Keyboards slither their way into a few songs, but they are used in a very tasteful way that enhance the general doom-like atmosphere of the record, adding not only a rather ghastly atmosphere to the sonic assault but also making the record feel a bit more ambitious and inspired than previous efforts. On a purely aesthetic note – this is indeed a return to the form of Danzig of old, but do not expect the consistent ownage of “Danzig II: Lucifuge,” or “Danzig III: How the Gods Kill”. Instead, expect a slate of solid songs, blessed with a few superb tracks that could easily join the ranks of “Twist of Cain,” “Skull Forest,” “Anything,” “Long Way Back from Hell” and “Black Angel, White Angel” within the tome of classic Danzig tracks.
As I said before, and many of you will be relieved to hear this – industrial and electronic elements are nowhere to be found on “I, Luciferi”. Instead, we are treated a rather bottom-heavy bass, drums and guitar attack. At points this results in being a bit too bottom heavy, as the chunky de-tuned guitar riffs occasionally bleed into the chugga-chugga bass tone adopted by Howie Pyro on this record. However, I personally feel that in sections where the riffs are not in the spotlight (such as moments when Danzig’s soaring vocal melodies are carrying the song forward), this approach really adds to the heaviness of the album, because, in essence – this is an extremely heavy album. The drums are loud and thundering, and you can feel them rattle your bones if you play the album loud enough. The bass is extremely audible – and while Pyro does nothing especially interesting or spectacular, it does give the album depth and adds to the heaviness. The guitars are so loud and distorted within the mix that it can almost become quite suffocating and claustrophobic at times, but I feel that this is part of the charm of “I, Luciferi”. This is not the mix you will hear on most metal albums, devoid of bass for the most part and resting the guitar tracks carefully on top of a mid-level drum tracks. This is a very fuck-you-and-finish-your-soup, in your face kind of mix. This may turn some off, but for me, it makes the listening experience a unique and unforgettable one. Unforgettable, let me remind you, does not mean unforgettable in the “Mercyful Fate’s Melissa” kind of way either. It simply means that the production values of this record are so individualistic that it would be hard for one to mistakenly lump this album in, production wise, with the thousands of other metal albums of 2002.
However, let us move away from the sound of this album, and focus a bit more on what the musicians are actually playing. Todd Youth, as we all have known since his stint in Glenn’s former band Samhain, is not an especially impressive guitar player. His solos are few and far between, and the solos that he does play are far from being virtuosic or technical. They vary from standard blues licks with flattened notes for additional atmosphere to inverted and wah-ed out versions of the main melody. As I said – nothing special. The riffs, however, are heavy as almighty fuck and quite memorable at the same time. Always crunchy and hard hitting, the melodies are also laced in a subtle way through distant, dissonant guitar chords (see ‘Black Mass’, ‘Naked Witch’ and the title cut) and eerie keyboard embellishments. The rest of the instrumentation follows suit: nothing technical nor virtuosic, just simplistic and effective.
Glenn’s vocals have also increased in quality. On “Blackacidevil,” they presented no redeeming qualities as most fans ears heard nothing but monotonous industrial drivel. On “6:66 – Satan’s Child,” they were strained and hollow. And while they are not quite producing the distinctive, bluesy howls we could find in abundance on the first four Danzig albums, Glenn’s pipes have stepped it up a bit in the game, occasionally churning out few hauntingly demonic bellows straight from the depths of hell. Glenn seems to have picked up on whispering his way through verses as well, and considering his penchant for occasionally slipping out of key (again, see “6:66 – Satan’s Child”), this is not particularly a bad thing, albeit a tad tiresome come the end of the album. However, the man can still carry a melody, and can still write a catchy song. Which brings me to the next redemptive quality of “I, Luciferi”.
Most of the songs on this record are as catchy as fucking Stratovarius anthems. Glenn has displayed this talent since his days in the Misfits, who were incapable of creating songs that weren’t catchy. Even the instrumental introduction track is as catchy as the fucking bubonic plague: ‘Unendlich’ is laced with so many infectious yet hauntingly beautiful melodies and counter melodies that I found myself listening to it on repeat just to capture the dense atmosphere this track creates.
As far as standout tracks are concerned – there are three or four songs on this album that are fucking unstoppable. The first song I am compelled to mention is the power ballad of sorts, ‘Dead Inside’. Opening with a somber, acoustic guitar chord progression – and eventually erupting into a violent fury, this song is completely perfect. The chords are disturbing and dissonant, yet beautiful and powerful. The arrangement is flawless. Glenn’s vocal attack could not have been executed better: quiet and expression, pensive and introspective. The way that the pre-chorus explodes upon the listener, and then flows into an electric version of the verse chords is so gorgeous it nearly brings tears to my eyes. Also, the outro solo is quite impressive, which is all the more exciting especially since Youth seems to be unable to write a good guitar solo. The first proper track on the album, ‘Black Mass’, is also a powerhouse. The guitars are loud and crunchy, decked out with some almost black metal-esque ringing guitar chords beneath. Glenn has penned an especially memorable melody overtop this song, making it one of the catchiest songs on the album, along with ‘Kiss the Skull’. ‘Kiss the Skull’ has apparently been under attack for being a bit too mallcore for the folks. I say that everyone needs to lighten the fuck up, because this song has it all – a militant drum beat, heavy as fuck guitar riffage, a creepy melody and some fun (albeit cliché) lyric . Also, ‘Without Light, I Am’ is the perfect way to close the album. Anthemic, and almost operatic in delivery – it really leaves a great ‘last’ impression of the sorts.
But, for every gem on this album – there are more than a couple of stale, generic sleepers. ‘Naked Witch’ is nothing new – if you have heard “6:66 – Satan’s Child,” you have heard this song. ‘Angel Blake’ finds Danzig a bit too hard in the over-the-top symbolism department, and ‘Wicked Pussycat’ is downright embarrassing. All of these songs should be avoided, because not only are they forgettable songs – but they do nothing to further the legacy of Danzig the man, nor progress the sound of Danzig the band. This is the downfall of “I, Luciferi”. The filler.
In the end, Glenn is not what he used to be (yet, because he will ultimately prove the cynics wrong on his next release, Circle of Snakes, by kicking their collective ass), Todd Youth is certainly no John Christ, Howie Pyro no Eerie Von, nor is Joey Castillo a Chuck Biscuits (who was not especially impressive anyway) – which inevitably means that you will not get out of “7:77 – I, Luciferi” that which you got out of “Danzig II: Lucifuge,” but you may find a few songs that might just become new personal favorites. All in all, this is a solid slab of metallic metal in the style only Danzig could pull off. Granted, without the help of gems such as 'Dead Inside,' 'Black Mass,' 'Kiss the Skull' and 'Without Light, I Am' - this would be a 55%, easy. But the majesty of those songs shoots it straight up to 75% - smack dab in the middle. Certainly not Danzig's worst - but we all know he is capable of better.
However, the best is yet to come.
Before this album was released and when Glenn was doing interviews and press he said that this album was going to be a return to the "classic" Danzig style and that this was to be the final album using numbers for the album title. The first part of Glenn's statement turned out to be wrong as this album is certainly not a return to the classic Danzig style that many know and love, this is something different altogether. I mean where's the soul?
With this album Glenn has ditched the industrial and electronic elements that were quite prevalent on the last two albums and at the same time has furthered the sound that was on the last album "6:66 Satan's Child". The album was obviously influenced by the current rock and mallcore scenes. No bluesy hard rock/metal here!
The album is pretty much hit and miss. The first 2 real songs are awesome, even though the beat in "Wicked Pussycat" reminds me of something from the Red Hot Chilipeppers it's still good. Then you hit a couple average tracks. Then the first ballad, "Dead Inside", which turns out to be pretty good. "Kiss the Skull" is next, pretty mallcore-ish with the drum/guitar rhythm. The title track "I Luciferi" is pretty cool, although I wish the melody in the beginning of the song would have been explored a bit more. "Naked Witch" is also quite good. Then it turns out that 3 out of the last 4 songs suck major ass! "Angel Black" is a crappy ballad, "The Coldest Sun" is really good and could have been on the last album, "Halo Goddes Bone" is crap and sounds like a mix of different songs from the last album, and "Without Light, I Am" probably would have been cool about 8 years ago when Glenn's voice didn't sound all worn out.
Is the album worth owning? This all depends on how much you like Danzig, are you a fan boy like I am? or are you more of a critic when it comes to your music?
It is well known that Danzig?s last handful of releases didn?t exactly live up to his former glory, so when his seventh album I Luciferi was announced as a welcome return to form I had a hard time not getting over-excited.
It?s safe to say that I was perhaps more than a trifle disappointed. Sure, it seems that Glenn did listen to the complaints of his long-time fans and ditched the electronic production in favor of a more organic sound, and it?s also clear that he has chosen to quite the experimenting and go back more to his roots regarding songwriting, but in no way can this album hold itself with his first four outputs.
While in essence most of the tracks on offer here vary from passable to good, they are somewhat let-down by the production itself - which for some reason sounds far too flat and lifeless, listen for example to Danzig?s vocals which seem to lack all the power that he put on display in the past. Also the band itself doesn?t have anything going for them at all and just lack the songwriting abilities and power that for the classic line-up with John Christ, Eerie von and Chuck Biscuits did have.
If you are a fan of Evil Elvis however (which I am) don?t let that put you off, since there still is some enjoyment to be had from tracks like for example Kiss The Skull, I Luciferi, Naked Witch or Without Light, I Am and it certainly beats anything that he released the last six or seven years, but if you have never listened to Danzig before, I advise to steer clear and get Lucifuge or How The Gods Kill (respectively album II and III) instead.
Next up in the long line of "Musicians who should have hung it up a long time ago" is poor old Glenn Danzig. The man that released some shitty punk, three albums of mildly interesting rock/metal, hit the apex of his career with one album done right, then started an 8-year fall from which he never recovered.
Okay, I won't lie. I'm mildly entertained by this album. In a shallow way, this album is somewhat enjoyable, like in the same way the Misfits and Samhain were enjoyable. But like all shallow things, it isn't long before the album's appeal drops to a revolting level and then soon winds up on the shelf collecting dust.
According to Danzig, this is the "heaviest Danzig album yet". Well, goody. Frankly, the music may be heavier, but it comes at the price of ugliness. The guitars are as filthy as a two-dollar whore and less exciting. Another issue is Glenn's voice. What happened to that croon that made him famous in the first place? What happened to that classic "Elvis On Crack-Meets-Jim Morrison" howl? It's been replaced with tired, strained bleating, that's what. But maybe Danzig can't be blamed for that. The guy is what, in his 40's? What we can blame Danzig for is releasing an album that further shames his legacy and beats his career into the ground. As I've said, there are interesting points on the album, but they get old fast, and they aren't reasons enough for shelling out 17-18 bucks for a shiny Luciferi coaster. Much like his gut, Danzig has let his music go.