Misfits The Devils Rain
Critically reviled for the pop-punk-metal mishmash of their new sound and their cartoony horror imagery, the all-new Misfits were never given the respect they deserved. Yes, theyd lost the teenage 50s psycho-sexuality of their original incarnation, but American Psycho and Famous Monsters are just plain fun, something which sour-faced self-proclaimed arbiters of punk lost no time in denouncing as Evil and Wrong.
Well fuck em.
Now, finally, The Devils Rain is here, swinging in through the window with a dagger in its teeth to save us all from the forces of punk rock snobbery.
The album races out of the gate with epic opener The Devils Rain and doesnt let up till the unfortunately rather underwhelming Death Ray. In between is some of the most vital, energised punk rock youre likely to hear coming from a band rapidly approaching their 30th anniversary (or anniverscary as they insist on putting it). The Devils Rain is just as good, if not better, than anything theyve released in the past and can proudly take its place next to Walk Among Us in the Misfits pantheon.
The band dont try anything radically new, conforming for the most part to the standard Misfits template: 50s-style doo-wop vocals? Check. Melodic poppy punk with an occasional hardcore thrasher? Check. The album has a much darker sound than its predecessors, even as it ramps the shlock-factor even higher, with growly monster noises aplenty adding to the inherent silliness of the record. It has to be said though that Onlys songwriting is often superb, with the title track, Vivid Red, Land of the Dead, Sleepwalkin and Ghost of Frankenstein able to hold their own with anything the Misfits released in their heyday. Besides the occasional pedestrian hardcore-by-numbers tracks like Jack the Ripper or the deadly dull Death Ray, the album maintains its high quality throughout.
The main bone of contention for fans in the run-up to release was concern that Jerry Onlys vocals wouldnt be able to match the heights of his predecessors. To a degree this fear is well-founded; he doesnt hit the notes with the consummate ease of Glenn Danzig or Michale Graves but he turns in a solid performance, fully embodying the evil-Elvis aesthetic of the band, and only occasionally sounding like Peter Steele on downers.
Unfortunately, the band stumbles badly with Where Do They Go?, a light, catchy Ramones-style rocker about the real-life torture, rape, murder and disappearance of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Sung from the point of view of one of the missing womens ex-boyfriends, its chirpy Where do the girls go? I just dont know chorus comes across as utterly fatuous under the circumstances. Although it could be argued that it at least directs public attention to these atrocious crimes, and seems to be intended as some kind of warning, the song is so upbeat and buoyant that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The Misfits have always been about cartoony, horror violence and the intrusion of real crime into their fantasy world is jarring to say the least.
Despite this setback, overall The Devils Rain is a growling beast of an album which more than does justice to the groups long and storied career. The Misfits are back and its like they never went away. Whod have thought that eight years after their last release a covers album no less theyd return with such force? Rising from their coffin like Dracula reborn, The Devils Rain is a triumphant long-awaited comeback from a band many wanted to fail. Sorry, folks.