The Misfits, formed in New Jersey in 1977 by vocalist Glenn Danzig and bassist Jerry Only, are considered today by many to be one of the best and without a doubt a very important and influential punk rock band. Most punk bands at the time were singing either about politics, the working class, and social injustice; basically problems in society. While The Misfits have their fair share of those types of songs, they focused more on something a little different in their lyrics and even more noticeable in their appearance. The bands infatuation with b-side horror and sci-fi movies, zombies, Halloween, skeletons, ghosts, vampires, you name it; they were all clearly portrayed in their music, especially on this album, and done incredibly well at that. This record, Walk Among Us
, released in 1982, is the first full length studio album released by The Misfits. Prior to this album, the band had put out a number of singles such as Who Killed Marilyn"
in 1981, a live album Evilive
(which six tracks from here were on) and EPs including Bullet
, released in 1978 and 1979 respectively. Walk Among Us
shows the Misfits in their prime, when Glenn Danzig was on lead vocals, rather than the band that is known as The Misfits today.
On Walk Among Us
, The Misfits cram thirteen solid, fast, catchy, fun, punk rock tracks all in just about 25 minutes. But that just shows that they can put together songs under a minute long and still be as effective as say a four or five minute song. Yes, it may seem a little short to most, but it will have to do and it will do just fine. The production quality is not the greatest as it could be on the album, but still decent enough and with the reissued versions today, it sounds perfectly fine. The downside to the sound quality is that it doesn't showcase Glenn's vocal talent to the best that it can be, as compared to his later material. Nevertheless, the vocals are exceptional, as Glenn belts out with intensity the lyrics with his signature bluesy style voice. He shows the various tones he can use like in songs such as I Turned into a Martian
where he sings very fast paced and in others like Skulls
, he sings at mid tempo at which both he does well. The instruments are obviously not the most complex, as many punk albums are not, but The Misfits know how to play the power chords to full potential. Most songs follow the same formula of the fast, catchy guitar that starts instantly and then goes into the verse followed with the fun, sometimes chanting chorus. Most songs do have a little guitar solo, at times messy but suit each song well. While some of these may sound like negative aspects, they are most definitely not.
1950's and 60's rock and roll had obvious influences many punk bands, but The Misfits tend to show it more than most, which is clearly displayed in songs such as I Turned Into A Martian
and Astro Zombies
. Both songs follow the same format and sound like they could have been from that era with the exception of the lyrics. The backing/group vocals play a big part on the record that is noticeable on nearly every song as Doyle and Jerry Only do an excellent at backing up Glenn's voice. The backing vocals are most noticeable on songs like the three minute Hatebreeders
, Night of the Living Dead
and Violent World
. All three tracks are also stand out songs with all the elements present: fast catchy guitar riff, quick repetitive drumming, great vocals, and a little solo which all makes for some great tunes. As I already mentioned what the core of the lyrics pertain to, Glenn can sing two sides to them. At times they are funny as demonstrated on I Turned into a Martian
, as the song is about a guy who basically is transformed into a Martian and can't recall anything that happened. A quote from the song is: "Well, I can't recall my name, times I hardly sleep at night, well I turned into a Martian"
. Silly yes, but fun. Other lyrics on the album are just plain creepy like in Skulls
and the live recorded Mommy, Can I Go out and Kill Tonight"
(The title says it all). I won't even put in samples from the songs as they are actually quite graphic. The lack of variety, or rather lack of seriousness of lyrics may not appeal to everyone, but they are not meant to be taken too seriously, mainly for fun, which is what The Misfits are.
The album opener 20 Eyes
is a very good way to start the album as it is a traditional Misfits song and sets the tone for the other twelve songs. Some other highlights include All Hell Breaks Loose
and Night of the Living Dead
. Both are some of The Misfits' best. All Hell Breaks Loose
has some of the best drumming on the album and features a steady bass line from Jerry as well. It is one of the heaviest on the album and one of the fastest too. Night of the Living Dead
is built mainly around the chanting vocals as I mentioned but Danzig's singing in the verses is the best part of the song. One of my favorites on the album and one of my favorite Misfit's songs in general is Skulls
. The song is not as heavy as many of the other songs but has a solid opening riff and Glenn's vocals as well as lyrics are at his best. The chorus is one of the best parts of the album as Glenn yells "I want your skulls, I need your skulls!"
. It is a very effective song for only being two minutes long. The album closer Braineaters
is a very different one compared to the rest of the album. The song is basically football chant style with many OI!"s in it. The lyrics are hardly comprehendible but it doesn't make the song worse. The song flies by though at only one minute. Either way, it's a very fitting way to end an excellent album.
The Misfit's debut album Walk Among Us
is a very strong album with few flaws, especially for a first, and in my opinion essential to any fan of punk. The only downside for me is that it is quite short at 25 minutes as I had mentioned. Following the release of this album, The Misfits followed up with another solid effort, Earth A.D./Wolfsblood
in 1983. That album would be the last studio album recorded while Glenn was still a member of the band. Glenn left the band in 1983 to work on his own projects and the Misfits would then release the b-sides and rarities album Legacy of Brutality
in 1985 and then the short Die, Die My Darling
in 1987 again with older songs sung by Glenn. The band later re-grouped in the late 90's with Michale Graves as the new lead singer. But just before the Misfits re-grouped, Static Age
was released in 1995, an excellent album made up of older and some unreleased Danzig era songs. The new band released a few albums (American Psycho, Famous Monsters), but in my opinion none that lived up to the Danzig era Misfits. Overall, within the genre, Walk Among Us
is a classic album.
Glenn Danzig: Vocals
Jerry Only: Bass
Arthur Googy: Drums
I Turned Into A Martian
All Hell Breaks Loose
Night of the Living Dead