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An experiment in sticking to one's guns. - 64%

JtK, April 26th, 2018

I used to hate Glenn Danzig. I just couldn't see why anyone would give credence to this overrated pretentious, yet macho, excuse for a human being. It's hard to say when and why things change. Even at my most uncharitable I had to concede that Glenn Danzig always provided a pretty convincing case for his craft when he spoke about it. So it became harder for me to deny that he's ambitious. That doesn't equate to good music, but a lot of the times it does.

So let me get the TL;DR version out of the way: this album doesn't suck, don't throw it out with the trash. When Deth Red Sabaoth came out a lot people just couldn't get their heads around the sound production. I checked out some of these critiques while writing this and I must say that the criticism is unfounded. I would even argue that the production gives this collection of songs more of a unique tint.

I don't see the point in writing a track-by-track reviews so I won't. That is not to say that the tracks all sound alike, they do not, but like most good albums it's not necessarily the parts that makes them good. It's the overall feeling, mood or 'ambiance', if you will, that indicates the worth of most creative endeavors.

The material is good enough to satisfy any expectations I have of a Danzig album. The rock influences are more prominent than Danzig's metal leanings and this is coupled with a dose of bluesy sounds. Furthermore I'd say that this album fits more into the category I reserve for albums that are good but lack obvious sound bites and singles. Withstanding any judgment of the following: Mother (Danzig I) is a single while Deth Red Moon and Godless (Danzig III) are not.

To stretch that analogy a little further: I think that the songs on Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger, Nile's Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka and Kreator's Terrible Certainty are best heard along with rest of the songs. At times I listen to a song like Transilvanian Hunger by itself, and sure, I like it. But it's just not the same.

Given all this, I'd say that Deth Red Sabaoth has a distinct feeling to it. I would like to think that I'd feel the same if some unknown band had recorded it, but the aura of Danzig surely looms heavily over this effort. My only objection is that stretches of the album rely too much on mid-paced riffing; a pet peeve of mine. Danzig isn't Kreator but other incarnations of the band have managed not to get stuck in that rut. I doubt that this lineup is unable to go faster than they do.

In comparing Deth Red Sabaoth with the rest of the catalog I'll just try to state what I feel is the obvious. Danzig mostly play a kind of music that would benefit from the dogged single-mindedness a lot of people attribute to Motörhead (rightfully) and Slayer (wrongfully). Danzig's style can't fit neatly into the category of continuous innovators like Cynic or even someone like Tom G. Warrior for that matter. Claiming that bands actually adhere to the single-minded approach is a fickle thing, but it is a useful figure of speech nonetheless.

Good Danzig albums are good precisely because they innovate within the confines Danzig and the band previously laid out for themselves. I.e. the band was "single-minded". Within those boundaries they managed to paint with a surprising array of colors. Deth Red Sabaoth doesn't stray too far away from that well-tested Danzig formula.

And that's a good thing.