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A Cash Grab With a Certain Charm - 70%

lonerider, December 29th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, American Recordings (Digipak)

In a way, it's really a pity that Glenn Danzig, original miniature hard-rock He-Man, will forever be associated with this one song, at least in mainstream circles. His pioneering work with the Misfits and Samhain? The overwhelming majority of people who know “Mother” have never even heard of those bands. His excellent and ground-breaking first three albums with his solo project Danzig? Again, most members of the MTV generation wouldn't even be aware that there is a lot more to Danzig the man and the band than just this one major hit single.

Then again, Mr. Danzig isn't quite so innocent in this regard. He obviously realized the chance to cash in big with this song, motivating him to put out this single some five years (!) after the eponymous track had first appeared on the band's debut album. Back then, most people with cable television came to know the song by heart and maybe also came to grow a little sick of it, since MTV had the accompanying video on heavy rotation and played it almost constantly.

So, what is it about that track that appealed even to a fickle mainstream audience that otherwise had little to no affiliation with anything remotely resembling hard rock and/or metal? Especially at a time when alternative rock and grunge were all the rage? Well, first of all, Danzig aren't your typical hard rock or even metal act. They've always been hard to categorize and their musical approach has always been rather original, forgoing most of the typical hard rock/metal stereotypes and conventions. There isn't a whole lot of stuff out there that sounds awfully similar to the first three Danzig albums, which in fact is a major accomplishment in and of itself. But the primary reason “Mother” had that stunning mainstream success is, of course, that it's simply an amazing song. It builds up very methodically, starting with that simple yet insanely catchy main riff being repeated over and over again, slowly gaining momentum and heaviness before finally exploding in that hard-hitting and surprisingly aggressive chorus. It's just a very testosterone-driven, youthful anthem of a song, simple and instantly memorable, yet also supremely effective and rocking with reckless abandon.

The next two tracks on this extended single are basically just add-ons meant to give the buyer a little more bang for the buck. The first is a live version of “Mother” which, to be honest, sounds almost exactly like the studio version, only with some crowd noise added to the mix. Then it's on to the title track of Danzig's third studio release, How the Gods Kill, again as a live recording. The original is another classic of a track – longer, slower, more brooding and sinister than “Mother”, it emanates a decidedly wicked and evil atmosphere and has that awesome squealing lead guitar adding some extra spice during the heavier sections.

Where things get really interesting again is with the fourth and final track on this disc, called “When Death Had No Name”. It's not included on any of Danzig's full-length albums, originally appearing on their very first demo, and is slightly out of the ordinary for Danzig standards. It's a little more complex than what the band is usually known for, and also a little heavier and more metallic. It even culminates in a surprisingly fast, super-charged part toward the end that has an almost thrashy feel to it, making for a very interesting and rewarding conclusion to this single.

Of course this “single” is strictly a collector's item and not a must-have, especially since it contains two live tracks and two other tracks that had already appeared on various other releases. Moreover, even though “Mother” was supposedly remixed it doesn't sound that much different from the original version included on the band's debut. On the other hand, the two non-live tracks are both excellent and the two live recordings are good enough to make this a rather enjoyable eighteen and a half minutes.