Album Revisit: The Misfits’ ‘Static Age’

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This is an installment of a series of blogs where I revisit some classic albums that I  love, used to love or has made an impact on pop culture whether I am familiar with it or not. You can also make suggestions on a classic album, and I may give a whirl and review it. 

I love the Misfits.Well, to be exact, Glenn Danzig’s Misfits. Though their material can often be hit and miss. This is one of those rare bands I enjoy that really did not have a definitive album until more than a decade after they broke up. It’s not just because they are punk, “London Calling” for the Clash and “Fresh Fruit For The Rotting Vegetables” for the Dead Kennedys are examples of old school punk bands having a defining album. Even Black Flag, whom are sometimes lumped in with the Misfits, had “Damaged.” But that changed in 1996. 

This was suppose to be their debut album. They had recorded some tracks as a Joy Division sounding band before Danzig decided to go in another direction. But with “Static Age,” they were raw, angry, it was everything that punk rock was at the time. The lyrics hinted at angst, despair and science fiction-horror movie themes — the latter being what the tended to gravitate toward after they recorded this — that, because they were fairly general, have aged fairly well over the years. That can’t be said for a lot of punk bands at that time, because they sang a lot of the politics at the time. They recorded 17 songs. It probably would have been a solid underground classic.

But it was shelved at the time. With Danzig, they would record two full-length albums, “Walk Among Us” and “Earth A.D.” The former was still in vein of melodic punk, horror movies and space aliens eating brains. The latter would be one of the first hardcore punk albums that would go on to influence heavy metal bands to come like Metallica, Guns N Roses and Megadeth.

In the mid-90s, my friends and I started getting into Danzig. His solo albums, at the time, where pretty popular. He was on MTV with videos for “Mother” and “Dirty Black Summer.” You have to remember, up until 1996 the Misfits were not easily found in record stores, even the two releases mentioned above. There were poor quality bootlegs of the tracks. Metallica covered “Last Caress” and “Green Hell.”

But that was it. At least where I lived.

So, when “Static Age” was released (a little after it was included on their box set, which remained ridiculously expensive for years and years) it was pretty awesome. I loved it. Others did not. You have to remember, our exposure to Danzig was him making Black Sabbath-like metal. Now here is his first album, and he’s a scrawny punk rocker, not the weight lifter guy. 

Now, I’m listening to it as a 33 year old, not a 14 year old for this blog. It remains good. But not as good as when I first came across it.

It opens with four strong tracks. “Static Age,” “TV Casualty,” “Some Kinda Hate” and “Last Caress (which I won’t link because the lyrics are pretty awful, but you can find it on YouTube yourself if interested).”  Catchy, gloomy and sounds fairly different than what was to come — but the germ of that is in there.

There are some other songs I like, one being my favorite Misfits song, “Hybrid Moments.” Also, the only Danzig-era video (besides that incredibly grainy and kind of disgusting “Braineaters” that floats around the web.

So, as I listen to this album, my enthusiasm for it has drained. I will say this: Out of the many New York/New Jersey punk bands that came out at the time, this album is at least listenable and at times enjoyable.

While I would probably not rank this in a top 100 favorite album of all time, (the Misfits album that would make the list would be the awesome, but pulled and now forever unreleased except on YouTube “12 Hits From Hell” )  but it still makes for a good listen when I’m in the mood for aggressive punk rock that has melody in it.

It is their definitive album, though. These are the tracks that built the band up, despite them being difficult to get for a decade. The post-Danzig albums are decent (correction, the Michael Graves ones. Jerry Only cannot carry a tune to save his life). And like many bands of that era, they spent years in legal battles over rights.

I will advise that this isn’t for people who object to offensive language. The lyrics utilize horror themes, add in punk rock music, it’s not for those who don’t like that sort of thing.

If you do enjoy punk rock, I saw give it a listen.

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