Friday, December 14, 2001 @ 3:48 PM
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There are basically categories of Misfits fans. The ones who think the band should stayed retired after frontman Glenn Danzig split to form Samhain and eventually go solo, and those that think they actually got reinvigorated when singer Michael Graves stepped in during the mid-‘90s and became a damn good band. Both camps will agree that the ghoulish goth punk band were certainly at their peak during the Danzig-era but it’s really a matter as to whether you feel these corpses should have even been dug back up in the first place. Cuts From The Crypt will probably make a good argument for either side’s case.
A collection of demos, rarities and live tracks, Cuts From The Crypt documents the last six years of Jerry Only's Misfits hit and miss career. Throughout the disc Graves proves himself a damn worthy replacement for the mighty Glenn, though basically a he’s just sound-a-like imitators…but he can sing. The first six songs are from the Mars Attacks demos in 1996 and are really the first tracks of the reformed band with Graves out in front, many of which later were re-cut and appeared on Famous Monsters and American Psycho. The production is a little rough but the band sounds pretty on-point all the way through, adding more than a touch of metal to the evil brew. Songs like “The Haunting” and the title track come complete with sugary pop hooks, yet harder numbers such as “Dead Kings Rise” and “Dr. Phibes Rises Again” retain all of the band’s vintage dark power. There’s a napalm-charged, rip roarin’ cover of Iggy and the Stooges’ “I Got A Right” that just smokes and a fun romp on “Monster Mash” that is very, very appropriate and delivered with the utmost tongue n’ cheek gusto. You get plenty of old school pogo punk too in the form of “I Wanna Be A New York Ranger,” “1,000,000 Years B.C.,” and “Devil Doll.” By far, the strongest songs here is the infectiously morbid “Helena” (which appears here in the form of a weird alternate mix) and the brooding upbeat rocker “No More Moments.”
One the other hand, there are some clunkers here too. The demo version of “Scream” is kinda long and unnecessary and borders on sounding like bad Psychedelic Furs, while “Fiend Without A Face” not only nicks a Billy Idol title but actually kinda sound like him too (though it’s not all that bad). Meanwhile, “Bruiser” just sounds completely generic, like any punk rock bar band in New York you could go see on a Monday night for three bucks.
The live version of Black Flag’s “Rise Above” marks the next transition of the band, from Misfits Vol. II to Misfits the Punk Jam Band. Longtime ‘Fit Dr. Chudd and new-blood revivalist Graves both left the band last year and bassist Only has been carrying on with members of Black Flag and Marky Ramone in tow -- all dressed in goth -- making him the only original member at this point. “Rise Above” features Flag’s Dez Cadina (lead vocals and guitar) and drummer Robo and theysound unrehearsed and sloppy as hell. Fiends who’ve seen various recent incarnations report it is no better than a bad punk cover band and depressing to watch these old geezers dress up in goth gear. I have the utmost respect for all involved but they better sound A LOT better than this on their next studio effort or it’s all over. And I mean over for good this time.