The band broke up in 1983 after Danzig announced he was leaving at a Halloween show in Detroit. This lead to 13 long Misfits-less years, where protracted legal battles found Jerry Only looking for royalties and finally just the right to continue to record and perform as the Misfits. Now celebrating almost 35 years since the band's inception, and 15 years since the band reformation after setlling those legal battles with Danzig, the band continues to cultivate its sound and image, becoming more and more self-styled caricatures, more and more... Misfits.
The band's first release in nearly a decade, Devil's Rain once again finds the band embracing the horror and sci-fi themes that have become their trademark, with a lineup that's much more streamlined. The current incarnation features a superstar lineup consisting founding member (as well as and devillock inventor) Jerry Only on bass and vocals, former Black Flag guitarist Dez Cadena on guitar (for a decade now) and longtime touring drummer Eric “Chupacabra” Arce (formerly of Murphy's Law) taking over the drums full time, after assuming the role from previous drummer Robo (also of Black Flag).
While many early fans hold the Danzig-era Misfits as the only "true" Misfits lineup, years have granted longevity to the Only-lead lineups, and in 2011, the Jerry Only-lead era of the band has actually been around for longer than the era that saw Danzig on vocals, and the band continues to hold true to the spirit of its first form - a spirit created by comic books and low-budget movies.
The album opens with the title track, "The Devil's Rain," and a sound straight out of a '50s horror flick - a thunderstorm that melds into Arce's driving, tribal beats and then into full blown Misfits glory, with metal riffs and gratuitous horror-fueled melodrama.
This sets the tone for an album that, while decidedly unsurprising, is filled with song after song of horror-influenced imagery. It's exactly what should be expected from the Misfits, and they deliver it in creepy handfuls. And it's not gore-splattered, either, it's the good sort of chilling creepiness that was ushered in during an era of classic monster movies, and the idea that a good story is just as important as a slasher in a mask holding an axe dripping blood.
Repeatedly, with tracks like "Land of the Dead," "Twilight of the Dead," and "Monkey's Paw," the Misfits present driving punk and metal fueled tunes that would be just as apt to be the themes for low-budget creature features as they are on the album, and that plays into everything the Misfits have spent decades becoming.
In referencing the Misfits as a band known for their iconic imagery, I'd be remiss is I didn't mention the art of Devil's Rain. Even the album's cover plays into the Misfits' image, with a bold piece of artwork that shows the rebirth of the fiend skull, catering to the comic-influnced nature of the band. Created by comic artist Arthur Suydam (Marvel Zombies), it's one of those epic covers often only seen on over-the-top metal albums, and it does much to set the tone for the music within.
All too often, people are quick to compare the Danzig-era of the band with its current incarnation. In some ways, it's inescapable, because the two bands share, if little else, the same name and symbol. But the fact is, the two aren't really capable of comparison. While they deal with the same themes and present themselves as the same longstanding bands, the latest version of the band is more driven and melodramatic than the original.
There will always be a place for the original Misfits; I will always love that band. But room also needs to made for the band in its current form. As long as there are teenage kids reading horror comics and watching old films, even if they've grown up and are no longer teenage kids, there will be space for the Misfits in any form they choose.
Release Date: October 4, 2011