On July 14, 1992, Danzig released their 3rd and most successful record to date “How the Gods Kill”. The album reached 24th on the Billboard Charts, and to date has sold approx. 422,000 units.
For their third outing, Danzig and co. elected to self-produce a majority of the record and took an off-the-floor approach to capture the energy and spontaneity of their performances. The bones of the record were captured in four days, and overall, the method of recording proved to be both the strongest and weakest aspect of the record.
The Rhythm section of Chuck Biscuits (Drums) and Eerie Von (Bass) benefit the most from the live take sessions, with the drums sounding particularly strong. Almost every song has a deep bass drum thump and gratuitous snap on the snare. Check out the album’s opener “Godless” to hear that strength in full effect.
Guitarist John Christ’s contribution falls a bit flat for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, Christ’s guitar work on the album is absolutely fantastic, there are plenty of meaty riffs, and seething solos, to be found, especially on the cuts “When the dying calls”, “Do you wear the mark”, and “Left Hand Black” and of course the single “Dirty Black Summer”.
Christ also delivers some dreamy clean passages, particularly on the tracks “Sistanas” and the album’s title track “How the Gods Kill”.
My gripe isn’t with Christ’s performance, but more with the production. Personally, I would have preferred the guitars to be a bit more powerful in the mix.
The vocals on the record let Glenn Danzig exhibit his powerful and diverse range. Essentially each track has Danzig utilizing different vocal styles, either making you fall in love or throwing the horns to the sky. Although I could probably do without all the screaming found on “Godless”.
Lyrically, Danzig touches on several different themes on the record. Everything from speaking with evil (Anything), God-like figures (Bodies), the search for power and immortality (How the Gods Kill), and of course summer in New Jersey (Dirty Black Summer). Frankly, I did not know Danzig was so sentimental.
The remarkable thing about Danzig’s lyrics is the way they are crafted ambiguously, so the listener can attach their own thoughts and meanings to them. If nothing else Danzig has crafted a great mystique about himself over the years.
Overall, “How the Gods Kill” represents one of the finest points in Danzig’s career. I find the record to be as much metal as it isn’t if that makes sense, and I find it builds on the momentum from their first two releases (ST, Lucifuge). I am going to channel my inner Danzig and not say what my favourite tracks are, but if you have not started your own “Dirty Black Summer’ yet, give this record a listen.
Until next time, play it, loud friends.