Danzig II: Lucifuge – 30th Anniversary Edition

Glenn Danzig in 1990 (Photo credit: George Van Orsdel)

ANTHONY BOLLERO | Go Venue Magazine

It seems all too fitting that I managed to choose today (Glenn Danzig‘s 65th birthday) to write my review for the 30th anniversary of Danzig‘s powerful second full-length album, Danzig II: Lucifuge.  Released on June 26th, 1990, this album found the band at a more comfortable period.  By this point the fellas had all toured together and hung out with one another for a few years, resulting in a much tighter sounding band.  The arrangements are more dynamic, complex, and interesting on this release than on the previous debut.  ‘Lucifuge’ (which roughly translates to “to shun the light”) most certainly showcases the songwriting prowess that Glenn and company harnessed during this period. 

Danzig in Concert, 1990 (Photo credit: George DeSota)

Before I get into the songs themselves, I must take a moment to get into the brilliant packaging of this album.  Considering I was only 11 years of age when this was released, cracking open that CD case and entering into the sinister world that laid before me was pretty intense.  We’re first presented with a cover that features a black and white photograph of Glenn displaying the now infamous “Lucifuge cross necklace” (an inverted metal cross with the “Danzig skull” affixed to it) hanging in front of his chest, perched just so between his hands.  Open it up, and the first thing you see as you begin to unfold it is a King James version bible quote written in red on a black background from John 8:44 that states:  “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.”  Keep going and suddenly Glenn appears in color along with John Christ on the left, Eerie Von on the right, and Chuck Biscuits at the bottom.  The booklet has now unfolded into an inverted cross.  Pretty wild for the time, seeing the whole “Satanic Panic” thing was still in full swing.

Now, onto the music.  This is one of those albums that flows perfectly from beginning to end.  Much attention was given to the order of the songs and how Glenn’s overall body of work was to be presented to the listener.  It’s really a flawless ride.  The descent begins with “Long Way Back From Hell“, which opens with a loud “dive bomb” guitar technique, courtesy of John Christ.  For this album, it’s the sonic equivalent of being grabbed and drug into an nefarious world.  Strap in, kid…you’re about to go for a ride!  Glenn’s opening lines couldn’t have been any better:

sold into slavery down in New Orleans
of the bayou light
black dog’s head on the killing bed 
and left to bleed
there on fire 
in the corner of the world
there in misery 
there on fire 
in the corner of the world 
left for god to see

Glenn Danzig in Concert, 1990. (Photo credit: George DeSota)

The stage has now been set for a bluesy and evil trip.  Things don’t stop as the band goes right into the second track, “Snakes of Christ“, without hesitation.  I absolutely love when musicians do this on an album.  It really helps to bring the entire body of work together as one cohesive piece.  Again we are graced with a devilish guitar lick from John Christ, followed by a perfectly timed mid-tempo beat from Chuck Biscuits.  Chuck was an absolute beast behind the drums.  Like a human metronome with a very minimal kit.  A perfect fit for this band during this time.  On this song, Glenn tackles the issue of the teachings of Christ being distorted by various religious organizations.

Again, things don’t stop for a second as the band moves immediately into the third track, “Killer Wolf“, which Glenn has stated is, “my version of an old blues song about a guy who wolfs around the door of every girl in town.” which starts out with a nice drum intro by Chuck followed by a very bluesy bass line from Eerie laced with an equally bluesy guitar riff.  The song ends properly with a screaming guitar lick from John and we move onto the fourth track, and a personal favorite of mine, “Tired of Being Alive“.  I’m sure everyone has their own take on the meaning of this song and I certainly have mine, but it’s probably best to just listen for yourself and draw your own conclusion.  It’s certainly a beast of a tune and fits the bluesy and evil theme of the album perfectly.  Glenn’s voice sounds incredible on this one!  Another mid-tempo tune that kicks into overdrive at the end with killer drum work by Chuck. 

Next up is a song that was actually recorded for Danzig’s debut album, but was saved for ‘Lucifuge‘ instead since it fit the mood so much better, “I’m the One“.  Honestly, I couldn’t imagine this song on the first album.  Stripped down, bayou blues at it’s finest.  Glenn has described this song as, “another blues song…about a guy realizing his destiny”.  Very simple, as it only features guitar, vocals and a hi-hat in the background.  A nice placement too.  Pretty much dead center on the album.

Keeping things flowing properly, the album picks back up with the dark and chugging intro to the next song, “Her Black Wings“.  Glenn has stated in previous interviews that this song took him a long time to get just right.  I’d say all of that time and dedication certainly paid off, because this is definitely a highlight of this album.  An instant classic that is still performed live by Danzig today.  Very dynamic and tenacious.

Song number seven is another personal favorite of mine from this album, “Devil’s Plaything“.  I mean, really…how can you go wrong with a title like that?  The guitar intro is perfectly sinister in nature followed by Glenn declaring:

love is a flame
a devil’s thing
a violent storm
about to be born
just look in these eyes 
see all the lies 
all these things you see 
you cannot deny

The band comes in strong with Chuck providing especially strong and mischievous drum work.  Glenn’s lyrics for this one seem to suggest that the fires of love and the fires of Hell may as well be the same thing. 

Riding in on the tails of “Devil’s Plaything” is “777“, which was actually a working title for this album early on.  This tune examines the biblical perception of armageddon.  Great slide guitar work from John Christ on this one and exceptional crooning by Glenn.  His vocal brilliance really shines through here. 

Next up is one of Glenn’s personal favorites from this album, and rightfully so.  “Blood and Tears” is a ballad-like tale of “a girl’s failed relationship and subsequent torment”.  Heartbreaking yet beautiful at the same time, ending with a single piano note which I believe is a low B? 

Danzig II: Lucifuge Artwork

The final song before the closer is “Girl“, which I think is a song overlooked by many on this album for whatever reason.  I feel that it fits with the overall feel of this album quite well.  Great riffage from John on this one and a solid performance from the rhythm section.  Everything comes together quite nicely here and transitions perfectly into the album closer, “Pain in the World”.  One thing that Danzig always does a fine job of with his albums is open up and close down very strong.  This song is no exception.  Opening up with a evil and bluesy guitar lick and more menacing drum work from Chuck, things take a bit of a backseat for the verses on this one, allowing Glenn’s brilliant vocals shine one last time.  …and what better way to close this album than with the following verse:

heart full of hell
indifferent and cold 
heart full of misery’s seed 
you should have learned
hate is your mirror 
like it or don’t 
angel of suffering smiles
coming down from above

An album of true perfection. Brilliant songwriting, flawless execution by the band, and really great production all lend themselves to an extraordinarily strong piece. An essential part of the Danzig catalog.