Musically, post-Misfits/Samhain Glenn Danzig and Metallica have little to nothing in common. However, when it comes to their respective career arcs, the curvature is almost identical. Both began with a blinding flashes of unparalleled genius via their first four studio albums and the subsequent influence they inflamed. As their careers wore on, they both experimented with their patented sounds. Metallica dulled their edge and went the more commercially viable route, and Danzig tried his hand at injecting some industrial rock elements into his music. They still sold boatloads of albums, but their fanbases split on whether messing with the formula was a good thing or an unfortunate miscalculation.
Their paths diverged a bit, but they come back together slightly within the last decade when both Danzig and Metallica released what were rumored to be “return to form” albums. Metallica had 2008’s Death Magnetic and last year’s Hard-wired…to Self-Destruct; Danzig had 2010’s Deth Red Sabaoth, and now his newest effort Black Laden Crown. In both cases, feelings range on whether it is a perfect nod to their respective heydays or cringeworthy attempts at recreating the high times. In the case of Danzig, though, the loudest voices are leaning toward the latter.
It doesn’t help matters that the production on BLC is as dry and flat as a saltine; the whole thing seems unfinished or unmixed, as if someone forgot to inject the beef somewhere along the way. There was something warm and wet about the Danzig albums that Rick Rubin produced that would be more than welcome here. Danzig’s egomaniacal control over his music is evident. He could have benefited from an unbiased voice to let him know, “Hey that guitar tone sounds thin. Let’s fix that.” Or “That vocal harmony is off and sour. Let’s try another take.”
The real smoking gun that proves that Danzig needed someone to rein him in is where the vocals sit throughout. His singing is…