Glen Danzig has always carried something of a cult status in heavy metal. Leaning on his work with horror-punk band Misfits and the even more obscure Samhain, his 27-year solo career has been followed with great interest by a hard-core fan base that had been eagerly awaiting news of his latest release ever since a recent picture of Danzig first emerged on the internet wearing his iconic Misfits skull paint. Given the levels of anticipation after a five year absence it may have been conceived as a massive risk to release an unlikely covers album, but Metal’s favourite cult hero seems to have pulled it off… just about.
Skeletons, Danzig’s 10th studio album, is essentially a tribute to his many musical influences – from rock’n’roll, to psychedelia, to blues – but it could just as easily have been the soundtrack to a forgotten B-movie. This is never as evident than at the start of the record when Danzig launches into bad karaoke versions of ‘Devil’s Angels’ and ‘Satan’, the theme tunes to two relatively unknown biker movies, hence the B-movie parallels. This does however lead in well to some more established, if slightly unlikely, renditions that add significant appeal.
Danzig’s grunged-up, theatrically dark cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘Let Yourself Go’ is a daring yet inspired one, while his transformation of ZZ Top’s ‘Rough Boy’ from cheesy blues ballad to industrial metal anthem, and The Troggs’ ‘With a Girl Like You’ from jangly pop tune to belted-out bar brawl sing-along, are interesting to say the least.
Ironically it’s when experimenting with material that is more within his comfort zone where Danzig falters. His dumbed down rendition of Black Sabbath’s ‘N.I.E’ lacks the brooding menace of the original (his vocal struggling to compete with Ozzy’s raspy tone), while his uninspiring version of Aerosmith’s ‘Lord of The Thighs’ is devoid of any of its predecessor’s boisterous rock n’ roll charisma.
For a non-fan it is quite easy to tire of Danzig as a performer, his off-key, bellowing vocal and showboating guitar solos regularly bordering on the cringeworthy, but it’s his sheer audacity, industrious application, and retro sense of humour that make this record. All the more fitting then that the highlight of the album comes from its most unexpected source, a ghostly rendition of power ballad virtuosos The Everley Brothers’ hit ‘Crying in the Rain’, providing a delightfully dark conclusion. A flawed, yet respectable cult covers album from a cult metal icon.