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Danzig is Starting to Branch Out - 94%

Superchard, April 15th, 2018

The classic lineup consisting of Chuck, Eerie, John and Glenn is at it again with yet another album taking a colossal leap forward by experimenting more and more with the sound they'd already established. From here Danzig have managed to not only build upon, but expand upon their sound and go to new experimental horizons. Not only does it go further with the experimentation, this album takes even more of a darker tone, not just lyrically, but musically as well. If you thought Danzig II: Lucifuge was a dark album; which it is, this is akin to crossing an intergalactic void with sunglasses on.

The opening track "Godless" represents this darker tone really well. It starts off at breakneck speed, (for Danzig standards) a lot more moments are given for instrumentation than we've heard before, allowing the band to convey more than just songs fit for radio play. Near the end there's a part where the bass and guitar fade out, leaving Chuck slamming away in a slow cult trance fashion as Glenn gives a spoken word speech, apparently to minions of the underworld and the song goes from Danzig doing speed metal that sounds half inspired by "Am I Demon" from their debut album to going to an underground cult where only members of a secret society are allowed entry, everyone wears robes and masks here, and the only light is from torch bearers.

The opening track is about as crazy as Danzig III: How the Gods Kill ever gets, but there's still plenty of milder experimentation to be found on tracks like "Sistinas". I play guitar and I'm still not sure exactly how Christ managed to make his guitar sound so percussive here. I've always assumed that he's just palm muting as he plays natural harmonics, but I've never been able to replicate the same exact timbre. The song itself is kind of like the emotional "Blood and Tears" from the album prior to this, really going back to those crooning Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison pop tunes, and is yet another highlight of the album, and the only time aside from "Bodies" and the distortionless parts of the title track where the album ever lightens up.

The majority of How the Gods Kill is bone crushingly immense. Especially on the slower "Heart of the Devil", opening up with a belting acapella line before going into a slow, evil, menacing thumper and by the time the song is over, you'll be truly convinced that Glenn Danzig really does have the heart of the devil, probably within his grasp as he death grips the blood out of it after ripping it right out of his chest Mortal Kombat style. Did I mention this album was pure evil? There's still hints of the band that once was though, not everything has changed, and you can hear it on the blues metal tracks such as "Left Hand Black", "When the Dying Calls" and "Do you Wear the Mark". These songs might not be quite as catchy as what you'll hear on the first two albums, but I'll admit that they are a tad more intricate. John and Eerie are writing more complex riffs. I especially dig the main tapping riff to "Do you Wear the Mark", but the point I want to stress is that this album is so much more than just simple power chords played in progression ad nauseum.

The band is so in sync with one another. One of the problems I had with Danzig's debut album is that it was so by the books and minimalist. There's more imagination here, and while I admittedly miss the widely diverse Lucifuge, this I feel is a step in the right direction for any band to go in as there's more imagination at work. Chuck Biscuits is at his very best especially on How the Gods Kill, he makes his presence known nearly everywhere and as a result, Danzig have never felt so alive or energized. He also does a better job of finding ways to compliment John and Eerie. It makes the music feel a little bit more planned out than what can be heard on previous albums.Glenn sounds great, but he's increasingly using his infamous cookie monster vocals. I'd prefer his to just sing normally as I find this style of vocals unique to Glenn, but comical and it ends up taking me out of the immersion this album's trying to build.

The bottom line is that if you're looking for a Danzig album to get your hands on first, I'd recommend Lucifuge. How the Gods Kill is still an incredibly strong contender though, and you seriously can't go wrong with either. This was my first Danzig album, and I can say it gave me some good insight about what the classic lineup era of Danzig was all about. All while offering a happy medium of experimentation that's not as balls to the wall as this album's successor "4p", but a much milder variation that stays a bit more focused.