Danzig

Circle of Snakes

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Glenn Danzig returns to his immediate post-Misfits roots with the stripped-down Circle of Snakes, an 11-track chunk of brutality that forgoes the murky alt-metal and industrial meanderings that marred many of his mid-to-late-'90s offerings. The revival of the four-piece basement-heavy attack of his 1988 solo debut is a welcome one, and fans who went willingly with the artist after his controversial punk departure will find solace among familiar "comic book" themes -- and very Misfits-esque titles like "Skull Forest" and "1000 Devils Reign." Tommy Victor's heavier than seems humanly possible guitar works serves as the bedrock for Danzig's Jim Morrison on "Bald Mountain" croon, and when they find their groove, like on the needle-in-the-red "Night Besodom" and "Black Angel, White Angel," and the riveting title track, the results are electrifying. Where the album fails is in its formulaic songwriting. Danzig's lyrics have always worked best when the beast he's battling grins back at him, and the "so morose they're bland" themes of death, evil, and "blazing skulls" are in such abundance here that one yearns for the appearance of a flesh-eating zombie, blood-soaked wolf, or sexy vampire dominatrix to break the first-person gloom of it all. Circle of Snakes is definitely a return to form, but it's also a retreat from the sinister and cerebral punk metal stylings of the era it's trying to emulate.

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