Dark powers ultimately win out on this seventh studio collection.
Alex Deller 2011-11-07
Merging protean punk with 50s rock’n’roll sensibilities, an encyclopaedic knowledge of rubber-faced movie monsters and a frontman capable of setting loins aflame or curdling the marrow in your bones with just a contemptuous curl of the lip, the Misfits’ early incarnations are rightly the stuff of legend. They are a band that helped shape American hardcore; forged the career of one of heavy metal’s most shadowy figures, Glenn Danzig; and splashed the grinning skull of their Fiend Club across more t-shirts, denim jackets and bedroom walls than could ever be computed.
While the legend and the logo live on, you’d be hard pushed to say that the resuscitated Misfits sans-Danzig has had quite the same impact or influence, now more akin to the later entries in a slasher movie franchise than anything new or shocking. Following on from the aberrant ode to Sun Records-era rock’n’roll that was 2003’s Project 1950, sole OG member Jerry Only has once more crawled from the grave and assembled a troupe of shambling henchmen in the form of long-time collaborator and former Black Flagsman Dez Cadena and new drummer Eric ‘Chupacabra’ Arce for the band’s first album proper since 1999.
While no-one would have been expecting another Bullet or Where Eagles Dare, having the title-track tear from the speakers like bats from a yawning cave is perhaps promising a little too much, Only’s chest-poundingly stentorian vocals welded to a gloriously unctuous guitar sound and a surging mid-paced thump so rousing you’d have to be far beyond voodoo’s help not to be tapping a foot along. Follow-up Vivid Red kicks the beat up a notch, and while the punked-up goth metal template is never once strayed from the quality from then on becomes somewhat variable, with Curse of the Mummy’s Hand and the brilliant Father standing tall while The Black Hole and Jack the Ripper merely represent cut-rate Cult knock-offs despite the spooky "ooh"s and "ahh"s reverberating between sarcophagi-sized riffs.
The Devil’s Rain, then, is a slightly mixed bag of tricks, treats and travesties. But while purists might sneer and the Evil Elvis himself will heap silent scorn from the crooked shadows of Castle Danzig, the dark powers ultimately win out and you’re left with enough slime-strewn fun to sate the hunger of your inner ghoul. That, or at least soundtrack the hour it takes to cobble together a toilet tissue mummy costume.