Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Misfits - Devil's Rain

Devil’s Rain
Cyclopian Music Holdings/Misfits Records

There’s no question that the Glenn Danzig led era of the Misfits is without a doubt my favourite era of the band, with almost everything the band produced in their short six years together considered an absolute classic.
Although I was wary about the return of the Misfits in 1997 with only Jerry Only (Gerald Caiafa – bass and backing vocals) and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein (Paul Caiafa – guitar) remaining from the classic line-up, I was quite impressed with what Michale Graves delivered in the front man role, and satisfied that although it was a completely different sounding group, both ‘American Psycho’ (1997) and ‘Famous Monsters’ (1999) were worthy of standing alongside the band’s former efforts.
But if there’s one release that didn’t sit well with me, it was 2003’s ‘Project 1950’. With Only the sole remaining original member, ‘Project 1950’ allowed him to finally indulge in an album that featured a collection of classic rock ‘n’ roll covers, albeit done in a distinctly Misfits style. While the idea was an intriguing one, the results were anything but interesting. Only’s new band of Misfits lacked that quintessential Misfits horror/punk sound, and Only’s vocals certainly didn’t help one bit.
It’s been a long eight years since the release of that album, but lo and behold, Only and the Misfits are back with a new album in ‘Devil’s Rain’.
Given how disappointed I was with ‘Project 1950’, I wasn’t holding out for a huge return to form from the band, especially given that Only was still holding down the front man role (As well as playing bass). Perhaps it’s for that reason that I was pleasantly surprised with ‘Devil’s Rain’. Sure, the latest incarnation of the Misfits (Who aside from Only, consist of Current members, ex-Black Flag guitarist/backing vocalist Dez Cadena and Murphy’s Law drummer Eric ‘Chupacabra’ Arce) will never produce anything that rivals the former incarnations of the band, but ‘Devil’s Rain’ is at least a far more enjoyable album than their last effort.
The title track ‘The Devil’s Rain’ is a surprisingly less punk/more rock sounding effort than you would otherwise expect from the Misfits. But despite this, the slower pace coupled with a decidedly more tuneful vocal delivery from Only (Not to mention some cool grooves laid down by the band as a whole!) work great.
The faster paced follow up track ‘Vivid Red’ and the Cadena sung ‘Jack The Ripper’ are punchy and more metallic sounding numbers that come across as great fun (Especially the latter), while on ‘Dark Shadows’, ‘Father’ and ‘Monkey’s Paw’, Only finally manages to incorporate his love of the classic 50’s/60’s rock ‘n’ roll into the Misfits sound, without having it sound like a poor imitation.
Both the singles ‘Land Of The Dead’ and ‘Twilight Of The Dead’ make reappearances here in re-recorded form, but you’d be hard pressed to know the difference.
Despite some really strong tracks, ‘Devil’s Rain’ does have some fairly average moments, which include ‘Curse Of The Mummy’s Hand’, the rather bland ‘Unexplained’, ‘Ghost Of Frankenstein’ and the truly misplaced (And painfully awful sounding) ‘Where Do They Go?’.
But while the album has a patchy middle, it does at least end explosively, with Cadena giving the album a huge sounding final blast with the excellent ‘Death Ray’.
‘Devil’s Rain’ isn’t a Misfit’s classic, not by a long shot. But if certainly has some great moments. Only’s singing has come a long way, and the album has some really strong tunes. But most of all, ‘Devil’s Rain’ is a fun listen. And that’s not something I can honestly say about ‘Project 1950’.
Sure, it’s more the Jerry Only All-Stars rather than the Misfits we’ve grown up on, but at least I can enjoy this for what it is.

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© Justin Donnelly