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Monsterman (2013)
Rating: 8/10

I was always a big fan of US punk band the Misfits – especially when under the dark spell of Glenn Danzig – but the debut album from ex-Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein really does give “Evil Elvis” a run for his money.

This is a stomping heavy metal album that boasts weight, a brooding atmosphere, and as expected, ghoulish lyrics that play seductively with those sneering guitars and goth-tinged melodies. For me, Abominator is a pure, driving, moody, black rock ’n’ roll album from start to finish, and has all the guile of those early Danzig records – only this one remains more dangerous and devilish.

Doyle has assembled a bunch of serious musicians for this outing, with Alex Story (Cancerslug) providing some of the meatiest vocals I’ve heard this side of Phil Anselmo’s recent exploration of the wild. Meanwhile, the leathery drums are provided by the Abominable Dr. Chud (ex-Misfits) who works in terrifying tandem with bassist Left Hand Graham (ex-Graves / ex-Let It Burn).

This is truly a monstrous record; the platter opens with the brooding, crushing, wailing title track, which comes across as a slo-mo piece of blackened sludge that is soon whipped up into catchy gallop frenzy. Story’s vocals really are impressive, bruising and muscular and yet are able to caress melody, giving the whole affair the feel of a thrash track, such is the driving density of it all.

‘Learn To Bleed’ is equally punishing and pummelling, smashing through the speakers with a punk attitude. The band really find their feet with the twisted chords of ‘Dreamingdeadgirls’ though, as Story yelps, “What turns me on the most is a girl without a pulse” – a wonderful ode to women and necrophilia, no doubt. It’s a distinctly ghoulish cut with a killer chorus that could easily – despite its subject content – allow Doyle and company into the American mainstream at least. Riff-wise it’s a doom-laden chug, as Story continues, “The quickest way to her heart is to cut through her fucking chest, I never minded the scars but I hate to clean the mess”.

‘Headhunter’ is just as stirring, but packs a meaty punch with its frantic drum and speedy guitar. Probably the album’s most straightforward Misfits-styled track, ‘Headhunter’ hints at The Distillers with its volatile approach. ‘Valley Of Shadows’ offers us an old school thrash riff and then standard, albeit infectious melody – one can almost imagine Mr. Danzig crooning over this one. It’s one of the album’s best moments, once again featuring a catchy quicksand chorus that drags the listener in time after time.

‘Land Of The Dead’ is somehow even more gargantuan though, rising with a leviathan of a guitar sound before picking up as a sordid buzzing rattle.

Party anthem of the year has to go to the fiendishly titled ‘Cemeterysexxx’; this sounds like Danzig circa the last few albums with that bouncing go-go riff and hard drum. It’s Alex Story at his most sublime, as he yawns, “Making love among the dead is the only time I feel really alive”, and the same could be said for the grunge-tinged rolls of ‘Love Like Murder’ and the sneaking ‘Mark Of The Beast’.

Doyle and Danzig should work on a project together, because if this opus is anything to go by then the ex-Misfits guitarist is clearly a talent to be reckoned with. I can’t wait for graveyard expedition, part two!

Neil Arnold

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