Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Misfits "Devil's Rain" (2011)

Review by Mark Rooster

New Misfits, post-reunion Misfits, Jerry and the Only's, whatever you'd like to call them--they're not very good. A huge fan of the original incarnation and the 90's version of the Misfits, I've seen Jerry Only's show several times over the last few years, and the live set never fails to disappoint. After Michale Graves left the band, Only got by singing for a while, and brought along folks like Marky Ramone, Robo, and Dez Cadena to back him up, and it wasn't too bad. But he completely lost it a few years ago. Playing the Danzig-era, and some Graves-era, tunes at ridiculously fast speeds, producing a sloppy mess only vaguely recognizable as Misfits songs.

But still, I was kinda looking forward to this album, hoping there might be something worth hearing contained in its fifty-one minutes. After all, I've listened to the "Project 1950" covers album many times since it came out in 2003, and that's got Jerry singing.

No such luck here. Basically, the new album starts out adequately, and after song #2, goes straight down the shitter. I'd say "straight down to Hell," but since this is a Misfits album (of sorts), that would be a compliment. No, "Devil's Rain" takes us nowhere near Hell, but rather to a budget theme park for the whole family, with no scary rides, no roller coaster loops, and nothing too exciting.

Here's a breakdown of the tracks:

"Devil's Rain" really isn't a bad opener. It's got a midtempo beat and is bookended by a thunderstorm, with a catchy chorus, and, while it isn't as good an intro as "Abominable Dr. Phibes" or "Kong at the Gates," it gets the job done. This is followed by "Vivid Red," probably the best song on the album. One of the few almost-thrashers "Devil's Rain" has to offer.

"The Black Hole" is the same kind of boring as "Land of the Dead" and "Twilight of the Dead." It fits appropriately, then, between those two, which by the way have been released together twice as singles ("Land" as the single, with "Twilight" as the B side, two years ago; and now "Twilight" as the single and "Land" as the B side--the album versions this time). Jerry Only knows he's got enough diehard fans who'll buy absolutely anything with the Misfits name on it, so why not put out the same songs twice?

"Curse of the Mummy's Hand" is musically OK, with a decent guitar solo in the middle. But the lyrics to this one are just too silly, even for the Misfits, especially Jerry singing the chorus, "The Mummy's Ha-aaand" in his best attempt at a rockin howl.

Makes me wonder who wrote which songs on "American Psycho" and "Famous Monsters". Lyrics and music on those albums are credited to the band as a whole, but I know from interviews with Michale Graves that different members were responsible for various songs. Graves still performs some of the tunes he wrote for the band, at his solo shows or with various other projects. Musically, "Devil's Rain" isn't very catchy or heavy, two things the Graves-era (and, of course, the Danzig-era) most certainly were, and the lyrics are beyond stupid.

"Cold in Hell" is a good example of lousy writing, with "It's cold in hell, they say, an endless winter" and other similar lines. At least the song's relatively fast. Still, this is about the fastest the record gets. Jerry's habit of speeding up, and in turn muddying up, most of the older songs at their shows really doesn't make sense when listening to this new album. If the guy loves playing those songs so fast, why'd he put out an album of mostly midtempo songs, with only occasional fast moments like "Curse of the Mummy's Hand" and "Cold In Hell"?

"Unexplained" sounds like something Michale Graves could have sung much better. The lyrics are very clear on this one, which isn't a good thing. And "Dark Shadows" seemingly wants to put the listener to sleep; it's a boring ballad that Jerry can't sing properly.

"Father" is almost kinda catchy, joining the ranks of the other almost-good songs on the album.
"Jack the Ripper" is a faster one, the first of two co-written by Dez Cadena. It's all right, but--I guess I probably don't even need to say this anymore--the lyrics are terrible.

"Monkey's Paw" is pretty stupid. The chorus is sang the same way as the chorus for "The Mummy's Hand," and both are equally dumb.

"Where Do They Go?" . . . Here's where the record takes a real southward turn. It was mediocre/tolerable up till this point, but then comes this "throwback" to the 50's. It's the kind of thing Jerry always talks about in interviews, his favorite kind of music, the sounds of his childhood. But having doo-wop girls on a Misfits song (even a 2011 Misfits song) is pretty silly. The chorus comes out of nowhere, makes no sense surrounded by the verses, and is almost embarrassing to listen to.

Almost equally embarrassing is "Sleepwalkin," a lame attempt at throwing some southern rock and blues into the mix.

"Ghost of Frankenstein" is boring, and "Death Ray," the second song co-written by Cadena, is pretty stupid, too long, and ends with a bunch of sci-fi sound effects I could have created on a computer in 1985.

I'm not sure who this album was written for, or if anyone even gives a shit about what the Misfits might be doing these days. If Jerry, Dez, and the guy from Murphy's Law wrote this album for themselves and are happy with it, then good for them. But I can't imagine any fan of either Danzig-era or Graves-era Misfits finding much to like on here. I wonder if they'll speed these songs up for their live show. Actually, that wouldn't be a bad idea, if they have to play them at all: speed some of these bastards up a bit and return the older songs to their proper paces. Or perhaps they'll play these songs in a "block" the way they usually incorporate the "American Psycho" and "Famous Monsters" tunes into their sets, giving the audience a chance to use the bathroom, get a beer, or contemplate leaving early.

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