Release Date: Sep 6, 2011
Record label: Megaforce
What strange and tangled legacy of brutality Misfits have bequeathed to their fiends. The split between Glen Danzig and the other two core members, brothers Jerry Only and Doyle, was legendary for its bitterness, and the ensuing years spent in legal struggles over custody of the band’s identity could give The Smiths a run for their money for the most acrimonious rock ’n’ roll divorce. In the 90s, the battle lines were clear: If you were an old-school hardliner, then any incarnation of Misfits without Danzig on vocals was a desecration.
When you hear of bands like Tiger Army or the Nekromantix and terms like “psychobilly” or “horror punk,” the Misfits most assuredly gain a mention in there somewhere. This is the kind of band that punk rock was built on; this is the kind of frantic, explosive rock music where a short set can hold 20 two-minute tracks and a barrage of bloody lips in the mosh pit. The Misfits are royalty, albeit brooding and destructive royalty.
Released in 2011, The Devil’s Rain marks phase three of the Misfits, and it is the first album of original material since Famous Monsters, released 12 years prior. In this incarnation, the group’s last original member, Jerry Only, takes the frontman role and is joined by guitarist Dez Cadena (Black Flag) and drummer Eric “Chupacabra” Arce (Murphy’s Law) -- a lineup that was road-tested on their ‘50s covers album, Project 1950. Misfits purists who live and die by the Danzig-led era shouldn’t expect to be converted.
Teenagers are such unhistorical animals. When I was in high school and most of my friends were into punk, I used to get the Misfits confused with Minor Threat, which isn’t an insignificant gaffe in the etiquette of hardcore. The fact is I found Ian MacKaye’s blistering hardcore as hard to listen to as Danzig’s high-camp horror punk—even as I was developing a pretty serious obsession with Fugazi.
During the mid-1990s, Misfits founding bassist Jerry Only successfully sued Danzig for the rights to perform and tour under the Misfits name. Ever since, the reconstituted Only-lead group, staffed by a rotating cast of punk-rock yeomen, has traipsed across the globe, delivering a Misfits-like product. It's not that the Only-Misfits are terrible-- the music hews closely to the group's original Buddy Holly-meets-B-movie template, albeit with an added dash of metal riffage-- but it is goofier.
Dark powers ultimately win out on this seventh studio collection. Alex Deller 2011 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.
Dead kings rise? That's debatable. Striving to keep the legacy that is iconic horror-punk brigade Misfits alive for longer than their initial reign, bassist/sole original member—and now vocalist—Jerry Only has finally pushed cohorts Dez Cadena (guitar) and Eric Arce (drums) into the studio for their first album of new material in about a decade. To be fair, 1997’s American Psycho and 1999’s Famous Monsters proved that Only is a solid songwriter even without Danzig's somber hand.