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Danzig > Danzig III: How the Gods Kill > Reviews
Danzig - Danzig III: How the Gods Kill

May We Always be Strong in Body, Spirit, and Mind - 100%

Twisted_Psychology, September 8th, 2022
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, Def American Recordings

Danzig may have been a metal band from their inception, but they never sounded so thoroughly heavy as they do with 1992’s How the Gods Kill. It’s certainly the classic lineup’s most aggressive outing, as Lucifuge’s full production is diverted to foster harder-hitting drums and more furious guitar playing while their theatrical tendencies are pushed even further from old-timey caricatures to a more unified grandiose horror metal spectacle. The vocals also somehow manage to be even more over the top than they already were, the last traces of subtlety thrown out in favor of more melismatic drawls, wails during even the quietest songs, and more gravelly inflections that verge on an operatic Tom Waits parody.

These elements are best demonstrated on the opening “Godless,” which remains the group’s longest and most epic track to this day. It immediately grabs the listener’s attention with an explosive array of swelling guitars before engaging in a tug ‘o war between drawn out verses and faster escalations that culminate in a spoken word finish offering an ominous toast. It plays out like an exaggeration of Black Sabbath’s self-titled song, channeling a similar vibe of facing a haunting unknown with its slow/fast dynamics set to wilder extremes. Danzig’s near constant howling will be an understandable turnoff for some listeners, but it makes a memorable impression.

Such an astounding opener risks blowing the rest of the album out of the water, but several tracks manage to preserve its atmosphere. “Anything” and the title track utilize a similar building formula on decidedly more compact scales, featuring more subdued verses that can be downright unsettling in the right mood and filling those heavier segments with vibrant guitar work and driving rhythms. “Sistinas” also does well as the album’s token ballad, coming close to another crooner pastiche ala “Blood and Tears” but ultimately featuring a unique execution thanks to its creeping guitar and synths.

On the flip side, there are enough straightforward rockers to keep the pacing brisk and the hooks catchy. “Bodies” and “Heart of the Devil” are bluesy exercises with the former featuring a rare bass spotlight with its bouncy riff lifted from Zeppelin’s “How Many More Times” (which itself is a bunch of Howlin’ Wolf songs thrown into a blender, but I digress) and the latter drives a brawny shuffle with the most glorious display of cheesy testosterone you’ll ever see. “Dirty Black Summer” served as the album’s closest thing to a hit with its simple mid-tempo chugs while “Left Hand Black” and “Do You Wear the Mark” serve as the fastest metal ventures. The closing “When the Dying Calls” admittedly feels out of place with its filtered vocals and more restrained fuzz groove, but it’s got a fun vibe with a memorable chorus.

I am frequently torn on whether Lucifuge or How the Gods Kill is my favorite Danzig album as both are practically perfect in my eyes. The former certainly deserves props for its unique blues metal fusion but this album’s much heavier execution, charging pace, and greater bombast result in a more immediate listen. The band taking their over-the-top elements beyond their limits may make it even more of an acquired taste, but I can still remember how much it caught me off guard when I first heard it. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a particularly intense evening thunderstorm and even if the cheese takes away some of the horror, there is no denying its sheer power.

The Heart of the Devil! - 93%

CannibalCorpse, February 6th, 2019

Be ready for a heavily biased fanboy review of a classic album! Danzig’s third installment - which is also in possession of the most badass-album-title in their entire discography – is this band’s magnum opus, their greatest achievement and their most consistently awesome record.

There’s no fillers here, no steps into dreck territory, no lame experiments, no selling out, no compromises. From the crushingly heavy get-go of “Godless” over the sinister gloom of the title track down to the neck-bursting, priest-crushing beast-riff of “Do You Wear the Mark?” the listener is overwhelmed by a variety of emotions, savagery and lots, lots of darkness.

Released in 1992, we’re right in the middle of Glenn Danzig’s prime, the invocation of “Evil Elvis” and Jim Morrison – at that time already garnished with a remarkable increase of wolfish fierceness - had never been this strong before and only remained on this level for one more record, namely 4p, which already showed the first signs of imminent decay in terms of songwriting quality.

But let’s not talk about such negative things here, alright?

With III, Danzig chose to omit some of the more obvious blues influences and replace them with additional doses of heavy metal riffage, sometimes almost stepping into groove metal realms. Now don’t get discouraged, because we’re still talking about “heavy” and not “nu” grooves here! These are no single-note chugga chugga-cretinisms that started dominating the metal scene around the time. Listen to the main riff of “Do You Wear the Mark?” right now and you’ll agree that this is the kind of guitar riff that Zakk Wylde or Phil Demmel wish they had written back in the day. Generally, a more sinister atmosphere is created due to this heavier approach, leaving lots of the more lighthearted blues/swing moments - most prominently heard on the two preceding albums– in the background, with the more oppressive, death-laden lyrics following suit.

Breaking out of this description a little is “Anything”, a soaring and poetic song that is a lot more than just a ballad, it’s a one-of-a-kind love-anthem equipped with one of the finest guitar solos in Danzig history. It shows that John Christ was perhaps the most important member of the classic lineup and for the Danzig project as a whole. A ballad placed at track #2? This could be a questionable choice on other classic albums, but the way the song flows and develops, it’s the perfect wave breaker between the blazing heavy metal opener “Godless” and the more uplifting - almost relaxing - bass-driven hard rock/whorehouse blues tune that is “Bodies”. With the gloomy title track following and bursting into another less-emotionally challenging song, you’ll soon realize that good flow is key here. One is not simply overwhelmed by sadness or anger screaming at you all at once; the constant shift of feel and its intensity proves to be a major selling point. Danzig make sure that your psyche, your emotional core, is constantly being played with; sorrow, hatred, remorse, regret, rage, lust. These feelings and many more variations of them are in a constant tumble and every repeated listen will have one that reigns above all others, with only one thing being certain: the last notes of “When the Dying Calls” will leave you satisfied and craving for more every time.

Every band member delivers peak performances. In addition to John Christ's previously mentioned great, great riffs and guitar soloing, Chuck Biscuits' performance is stellar as well. His drum set has to endure massive poundings here, as the man used to all but annihilate his skins with sheer force and intense playfulness in his years with Danzig, without ever feeling the need to be ultra-technical for the sake of it. His act is flashy and flamboyant due to his hulkishness alone. Eerie Von's handling of bass duties especially shines on the slower compositions (“Bodies”!) and you'll be able to hum along with his tasteful melodies in no time.

“Sistinas” and “Dirty Black Summer” are a little less stellar due their repetitive nature. There's not enough variation in their - admittedly fine - basic ideas to warrant their running time – a little itch that would develop into a raging disease on the band's subsequent records. Here, it's just a minor scratch on an otherwise near-perfect representation of what Danzig was about in the early 90s.

III – How the Gods Kill is a record that should be in every heavy metal collection. I consider it a mandatory listen and if you really have not heard this one yet, you're missing out – big time!

Highlights: Anything, How the Gods Kill, Left Hand Black, Do You Wear the Mark?

originally written for

20th Anniversary - 100%

FullMetalAttorney, July 26th, 2013

As a junior high kid first getting into metal, without any guidance from an older and more knowledgeable metalhead, I had few methods to discover new music. One of the most eye-opening was the shotgun method, i.e., blindly buying a whole lot of stuff all at once. At that time, there was no such thing as music downloading, so the next best thing was to sign up for one of the music clubs. Younger readers will have no idea what I'm talking about, but you could sign up for these "clubs" and get a dozen or so CD's for very cheap. They then planned to send you unsolicited CD's and charge you for them afterward, but most everyone would cancel immediately.

When I signed up for one of these, I got albums from Black Sabbath, Korn (this was before Follow the Leader), Type O Negative, Sepultura, and a handful of others. But out of these, the one that stood out the most to my developing tastes was Danzig, the debut by the band of the same name. Later I began collecting all of the band's albums, and I've listened to them, especially the first four, many times over the course of nearly two decades.

The debut gets all the attention from casual Danzig fans, but more serious fans could debate the merits of each of the first three, at the least. I've changed my mind many times over the years, and even considered 4p my favorite for a while. Today, I would have a tough time choosing between the debut and How the Gods Kill for my favorite Danzig album.

Tomorrow (July 14, 2012) is the 20th anniversary of Danzig III: How the Gods Kill. It would be the last album the band would record before going in a more experimental direction. This means it's heavy metal, rock and roll, and the blues rolled together into one of the most cocksure, diabolical metal albums of all time. Where extreme metal tries its damnedest to sound evil, the sincerity and very genuine, sexually-charged confidence of this band puts them all to shame. That has never been more true than on their third record.

It still retained the classic lineup of Glenn Danzig, Chuck Biscuits, Eerie Von, and John Christ. The drumming of Biscuits was pure and natural, produced the way drums should be. It is his work that gives the band its swagger in the first place. Von's bass work is probably the least appreciated element, but it forms the backbone and heaviness that allowed Christ free rein to play. And did he. No other guitarist could bring such simple riffs to life like he could. He made the blues sound dangerous like no one since Iommi.

And then of course there's Danzig himself. The man conveyed such presence and absolute confidence because he is in fact a cocky son of a bitch. That would later lead to the lineup collapsing, of course. But his contribution was the final essential piece that made it work. He's been compared to Elvis and Jim Morrison many times, but that's because he has that kind of attitude and voice, and evokes the same kind of fear-for-your-daughters feelings.

Thus far, this critique could apply to any of the first three Danzig albums. What sets III apart is that it's altogether darker and more adventurous than its predecessors. More riffs, more tempo changes, less strict adherence to verse-chorus-verse, and more use of loud/quiet and soft/hard dynamics.

Opener "Godless" plays up the whole occult angle, with long, brooding sections with little instrumentation other than primitive drums and primal snarls, followed by an invocation of sorts. "Anything" evokes Sabbath's "NIB," the devil's own invitation to a young girl, but unlike "NIB" it actually sounds the part. Even the bluesy bounce of "Bodies" sounds devilish when Christ oozes that tone out of the six-string. And the title track is a more complex, layered version of the dark and eerie "End of Time." Yet it's much earlier in the album, setting the tone.

After those first four, the band continue as expected, following a devil on the left down the path to rock and roll perfection. The other two major highlights are "Dirty Black Summer" (with Glenn's animalistic grunts) and "Do You Wear the Mark?" (with its invitation to go down that same path). Both of them feature spectacular work by Christ, of course, but the solo in "Dirty Black Summer" is especially worth noting.

As with all truly great albums, its flaws are just as much a part of its charm. The long wait for "Dirty Black Summer" to start can be annoying as hell, but it only builds the anticipation to that beautiful beginning. The weird, soft "Sistinas" is, in truth, not very good, but it adds another facet to the whole picture. The album simply wouldn’t be complete without it.

Retaining and perfecting all their rock and roll glory, while adding a thick layer of atmosphere, Danzig reached their apex with their third album. Twenty years later, it hasn't shown its age in the slightest. With III on the left and Danzig on the right, there's no mistake which I'll be with tonight.

originally written for

Danzig's darkest, but not the best. - 87%

woeoftyrants, February 18th, 2007

Continuing their paths of progression, Danzig's 3rd album, How the Gods Kill, shows the artistic and most progressive peak of the band with the classic line-up before fading into experimental obscurity. Elements from the debut and Lucifuge are both present here, but the band's sound has grown progressivbely darker and harder to digest. By no means is it pretentious or "artsy", but the band's compositional maturity hit its apex with How the Gods Kill, and it clearly shows.

Production-wise, not much has changed from Lucifuge, which featured one of the band's best production jobs. The guitars still boast a thick, hot distortion, and the drums maintain an old-school sound; the bass, however, has come a bit more out front than in the past. Other than the occasional odd touches and effects, it's pretty standard fare for Danzig.

The breaking point for this album is the band's musical offerings. Not only have they grown more complex, but much darker than what you would expect; the rock elements are still very much present, but are seen in a much darker light on this album. The atmosphere here can be described as brooding, and even gloomy or bitter at times. This time around, the compositions seem to be in minor keys, adding to the mysterious nature of songs like "Godless" and the second track of the album. How the Gods Kill focuses less on the progressions seen on Lucifuge and more on the pure sinister power that the band can conjure on their own; and they succeed. The opener "Godless" shifts between crushingly slow verses and attitude-filled swagger in the mid-section, while "Do You Wear the Mark" takes the formula from the band's debut album and shifts it to even more ominous, faster terrain. The album's title track stands out as one of the band's all-time best compositions. Starting off with slightly depressing plucking on the clean guitar and leading to one of Glenn's most spine-tingling performances as a vocalist, the song pushes through enveloping soundscapes of darkness before shifting to a sludgy riff ripe with pinch harmonics that carries the rest of the song. More accessible numbers such as the closer "When the Dying Calls" and the single "Dirty Black Summer" help to lighten the load a bit and capture some of the band's older fans, but otherwise, Danzig really came into their own on this one. Maybe a bit too much, since most of us would have liked to see the variety that Lucifuge offered.

Glenn's voice has not faltered since the band's last release, nor have the band's songwriting chops. (The latter has actually gotten better, but in a different way.) His voice still holds the freshness and power to adapt to the various changing demands of the music, as seen on the beginning of "Heart of the Devil"; and the lyrics this time around have again taken on a totally different theme. I would dare say that Glenn's lyrics are occult-laced this time around, though there are no explicit occult references.

John's guitar work hit its ultimate peak here; from the gloomy beginnings of the title track and "Anything", to the head-swinging riffs of "Dirty Black Summer" and "Left Hand Black", and the psychedelic "Sistinas", John composes some of his best riffs and solos here. A particular standout is the wailing solo on the album's closer, as well as the harmonies on "Anything." There is plenty of variety in the songwriting, and the band seemed to have broken away from the rock-ish arrangements of older outputs. Bluesy elements are still in full swing, the clean-picked riffs are ripe with atmosphere, and the riffs are crunchier and heavier than anything else in Danzig's discography.

While not the most memorable of the band's discography, this album is certainly the darkest. How the Gods Kill shows a band at their artistic peak, but in a more primal way. It's a grower, and is quite hard to digest upon first listening. All-around though, this was the last great album from Danzig with the classic line-up.

Highlights: "How the Gods Kill", "Dirty Black Summer", "Do You Wear the Mark."

A Great Voodoo Feel - A Must Have - 95%

Kutulu, May 22nd, 2005

Danzig pulls off what could be the greatest album of his career. Only rivaled by his album(Lucifuge) before this masterpiece.

No album is absolutely perfect, but this one comes damn close. The only reason this isn't getting a 99 is for the first track, Godless. I am not a big fan of the first track for one reason or another, can't really put my finger on it, but it just isn't anything that catches my fancy.

But after that the album explodes. The next song is entitled Anything, more of a ballad type but it really shows of Glenn's vocal style. Only to lead into a song which Eerie Von is the highlight.

Bodies is a song with a very Voodoo feel and lyrical content all driven by a smooth bassline. Although the bassline is repeatative it is still astounding the life it brings to the song.

Next up we have the title track, How the Gods Kill. A song with the theme(as far as I can tell) about freeing yourself from the restraints and unhealthy burden of christianity and mainstream religion in general. This album is full of metaphorical and cryptic content, half the fun is discoving in your own mind what the songs mean.

Next we have one of the most driving tracks on the album. Dirty Black Summer. After a long and kind of drawn out intro of what is just wind it seems(even though it adds to the effect of the song in my opinion) a signature John Christ guitar riff kicks in. And the rest of the band soon follows. The song brings back memories of Twist of Cain. One of the best on the album.

Next we have my favorite on the album and one of my favorite Danzig songs period, Left Hand Black. An astounding song to mosh to live or just in your own home. The lyrics bring to mind the Knights of the Templar for some reason, and the imagery the song invokes is astounding. Highlight of the album.

Next we have Glenn show off his vocal talent again in the start of Heart of the Devil. The song reminds me a lot of stuff off of Danzig I, and has a very bluesy feel to it. Not one of his best songs, but a goody none the less.

Next we have another ballad song, Sistinas, a song that is quite dark and depressing even if it isn't a heavy song. Mood and tone sometimes pulls off more then the instrumentals ever could.

After the slower track Sistinas, we get blown back into the destinct Metal that is Danzig. The album ends with two of the three best songs on the album. Starting off with Do You Wear the Mark. Now I must say, I can't give this song as much praise as I would like it being that hearing the song live blows the studio version out of the water, but I can say it is an amazing song.

Ending with another dark bluesy track, and a very fitting tone to go out on, we have When the Dying Calls. A track mainly driven by the drums, in my opinion. But it is an accomplishment altogether, brings back memories of my favorite tracks from Lucifuge. Not much I can say about this song to do it justice.

In short, if you get one album from Danzig, you will have to tear yourself between getting How the Gods Kill and Lucifuge, although if you can get all of Danzig's work. Except 5-Circle of Snakes unless you have a very open mind.

A Different Feel - 85%

Madman, October 22nd, 2004

With the first Danzig album being a very stripped down bluesy heavy metal album, almost in the Sabbath vein, then Lucifuge becoming both heavier and, at times, even bluesier, How the Gods Kill went for a slightly different feel and direction.

The third album from Danzig has more of everything, it's heavier. One main thing one will notice is a difference in atmosphere, How the Gods Kill feels more decidedly sinister and evil with a lot of wide open parts for Glenn to sing and twist his lyrics over, around, and through.

Godless kicks off the album with drums and not to late afterwards rocking guitar, what one would expect... But the song suddenly takes a left turn, going somewhere that's different and more mysterious. Just the drums pounding, open guitar chords, and Glenn's vocals. It doesn't even feel like Glenn is singing, but more preaching to his unholy choir. After two verses like this the song backtracks to the rocking earlier section with Glenn singing in his usual half yell/half croon that he had become known for by now. The end of the song coming like a sermon from Reverend Danzig. Anything is a great song, with it's understated guitar melody.

Bodies, now that's an awesome bluesy song made for kickin' back, Chuck Biscuits' drums setting the groove and feel to the song. Glenn's lyrics working their magic around the song creating a second layer just beneath the surface. How the Gods Kill is the album's masterpiece, it's crowning achievement. Lots of room for the vocals to breathe and envelop the listener only to have the guitar slam in with the Sabbath-like riff, slow and brooding yet oh so sinister. Dirty Black Summer being probably the most instantly memorable on the album, with it's groove and dirty (excuse the pun) guitar riff. Left Hand Black is a faster rocking track with it's rebellious lyrics, channelling the heavens. Heart of the Devil, now here's a bit of an oddity... On the surface it's like a lot of the more bluesy Danzig tracks but there's something here that makes it feel like it should have been done in the 50's.

The last 3 songs (Sistinas, Do You Wear the Mark, and When the Dying Calls) go from soft ballad, to rocking in your face, to a mid-paced rocker with a bit of class. All 3 songs being great additions to a classic album that deserves a lot of praise. Glenn Danzig creating something above the music. The band being more than just the sum of it's parts, becoming an experience on record and in concert.

How Do The Gods Kill? - 97%

Metal_Scythe, April 28th, 2003

This album is arguable Danzig's best work, most agree that Danzig 3 is their favorite album, and I can't disagree with them there. How The Gods Kill is a killer album from the devil himself, Glen Danzig. 3 still has the classic line up of Glen Danzig (vocals), John Christ (Lead Guitar), Eerie Von (Bass), and Chuck Biscuits (Drums). This is the album that perfected Danzig's eerie blues influenced blend of doom metal, not a single track on this album is a filler or boring piece of material. The album begins with "Godless" which for some reason is referred to as a remake of "Twist of Cain" which makes no sense to me, it is a very originial track and has a wicked tempo change, it starts out fast then dramatically slows down to an erie drum beat, before Glenn yells "Godless!", but don't worry the song again picks up to the intensity of the first minute later on. The album contains harder tracks like Dirty Black Summer, Left Hand Black, Heart of the Devil, Do You Wear the Mark, and the epic When The Dying Calls. It also has a few songs that have really cool tempo changes such as "Godless", "Anything", "Bodies", and the title track "How the Gods Kill" which really explodes into an awesome riff which is very unexpected when you hear the song for the first time. One can't forget to mention the epic "Sistinas" which is the slowest song on the album, Sistinas is a very beautiful ballad and it conveys an emotional and depressing mood at the same time, a perfect song for when you feel like shit, or you have experienced a form of lose (family member, relationship, ect) this song has uplifted my spirit more times then I can count, and I have often thought it would be the perfect ballad for a funeral. If you own any Danzig album I strongly recommend buying this if you don't already have it, trust me you won't be disapointed. If you are a new fan of Danzig and are wondering which album you should purchase first, I think its best to start with the first album and work your way forward, but this album is without his best work yet, its emotional and moody, but at the same time it has its moments of faster riffs and aggression.