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Circle of Snakes
Released: 2004, Evilive Records
So here’s album number 10 from Danzig the band, 8 if you’re only counting the studio albums. It’s been a rocky ride ever since DANIZG IV surfaced in 1994, foreshadowing the seemingly overnight decline of a metal icon. The album wasn’t up to snuff and shortly thereafter the backing band was gone. It didn’t take long to figure out how important Christ, Von and Biscuits were to the band. But that was then and CIRCLE OF SNAKES is now ... and now brings a new backing band to Danzig the band. Indeed, outside of Glenn Danzig, not a single remnant of any of the past incarnations of the band exist.
CIRCLE OF SNAKES (COS) starts off with a short instrumental track meant to set a sort of ominous tone to the proceedings. It’s not bad, but it’s not really necessary either. The intro fades into “Snakecharmer” which serves to foreshadow the rest of the album. “Snakecharmer” sounds like the Danzig of old, at least in a strictly sonic context. It’s a heavy song with a decent main riff, while being peppered with some chuggy riffs, a dose of guitar-squealing wankery and some competent lead work. Glenn even delivers his trademark howl. Problem is, it may sound like Danzig, but it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Sure, the song is heavy and follows the traditional Danzig formula, but heavy wasn’t what made classic Danzig great. Danzig was metal because his music was so fucking dark and sinister. Case in point, songs like “She Rides”, “I’m The One” and “How The Gods Kill” were fantastic songs, but they weren’t all that heavy. They didn’t need to be. Some songs put the “metal” in “heavy metal”, but those songs put the “metal” in “heavy metal.” Defining the album by one song would be a cop out though, so let’s continue.
“Circle of Snakes” is a decent track that brings to mind “Twist Of Cain”, particularly in the chorus. It’s got a classic Danzig intro and pace throughout, but also shows the limitations of Danzig’s aging voice. The voice isn’t totally gone, but the strain shows when he reaches a bit into the upper registers. A very slight annoyance though, as it’s a worthy song and really the only one where his voice truly falters. “1000 Devils Reign” is one of the better tracks on the album, though it doesn’t totally break away from the mediocrity of the rest. “Hellmask” is an interesting diversion as maybe the closest Danzig has ever come to speed metal. “Skullforest” and “When We Were Dead” should please casual fans, as they both have that Danzig crawl, but they don’t have enough slither to please the long-time fans.
Danzig saves the best for last by closing with the track “Black Angel, White Angel.” He’d have been better served to put this one somewhere near the front, since it features his best vocal performance and finally brings out that sinister feel that made classic Danzig so good. Hell, if the whole album had been this good we’d be talking about Danzig’s resurrection.
CIRCLE OF SNAKES doesn’t blow as hard as most Danzig post 1994, but it’s not likely to give fans of his classic work a stiffy either. Frankly I’d have given this album a 2.5 if it weren’t for the fact that Danzig does make a valiant attempt to regain his former sound. That’s worth half a point in itself, but the album just isn’t memorable enough to be truly praiseworthy.
Highlights: Circle Of Snakes, 1000 Devil’s Reign, Black Angel, White Angel
Genre References: Traditional Heavy Metal, Gothic Metal
1. Wotan’s Procession (2:23)
2. Skincarver (3:57)
3. Circle Of Snakes (3:07)
4. 1000 Devils Reign (3:47)
5. Skull Forest (5:07)
6. Hellmask (3:14)
7. When We Were Dead (4:46)
8. Night, BeSodom (3:28)
9. My Darkness (4:21)
10. Netherbound (3:41)
11. Black Angel, White Angel (4:23)
Glenn Danzig - vocals, keyboards, guitars
Tommy Victor - guitar
Jerry Montano - bass
Bevan - drums
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