Famous Monsters


Roadrunner Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


If it wasn't for groups like Metallica, the Misfits might have remained a cult band with a small, but rabid, audience. But Metallica, thanks in no small part to the late Cliff Burton, helped bring this group to the forefront of the music world (even after the band had originally called it a day) thanks to their covers of "Last Caress" and "Green Hell."

But something strange happened in the time since Glenn Danzig left the band and the group re-convened back in 1995. They grew up. They learned to play their instruments, and not just go for a cacophany of feedback and fury. They moved away from the demon-drenched lyrics and became more of a mock horror band.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This is supposed to be a good thing? After listening to Famous Monsters, the answer is: hell, no.

Vocalist Michale Graves (who looks like he just had a Halloween costume slapped on him by Party City), simply put, is no Danzig. He often doesn't have the urgency in his voice to carry punk's frantic energy, and he sounds, well... he sounds too polished. For that matter, the whole band, including founding member Jerry Only on bass, sound like they got the studio wax coating - and it's just not the Misfits anymore.

I realize that music must change and evolve, but Famous Monsters seems to spit in the face of the songs that made them an underground favorite. Before, when you heard a song like "Earth A.D." or "Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight," you couldn't help but get wrapped up in the controlled panic that was the band. Now, when I hear songs like "Lost In Space," "Saturday Night," "Die Monster Die" and "Fiend Club," it's like I'm listening to a band who have been working on their craft. Sorry, guys: punk isn't something that you work on, it just happens.

No matter how I looked at it, Famous Monsters disappoints. Only near the end of the disc, on cuts like "Hunting Humans" and "Helena," do things seem to take a minor upswing. But these tracks don't hold a candle to earlier work by the Misfits - or newer groups like Groovie Ghoulies, for that matter.

What has happened, in effect, is that the Misfits have become a parody of themselves - and that's a sure sign that it's time to either re-evaluate what you're doing or to throw in the towel and let the past speak for itself.

Famous Monsters is not a Misfits album; I don't give a damn what the CD spine says. This is an album from a metal band that wants desparately to capture the angst, darkness and power of the Misfits, and they fail.

Rating: D

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Roadrunner Records, and is used for informational purposes only.