December 7, 2006

CD Review: Glenn Danzig - Black Aria II

Back in 1993 Glenn Danzig took a step away from his usual musical stylings and gave birth to an album falling within the realm of modern classical. The original Black Aria was created to tell the story of Lucifer's rebellion against Heaven. It was an interesting album, one that reached the top of the Billboard classical chart. Over the years there have been whisperings and rumors of a followup record. Thirteen years later the time has come for Glenn to unleash his latest creation. It is a terribly mixed bag, lots of interesting coconepts that unfortunately do not come together in the final product.

The creatively titled Black Aria II, Danzig has returned to the darker side of Biblical tales from which to draw his inspiration. This album is the story of Lilith who, according to Jewish legend, was the demonic first bride to Adam, the album bears the alternate title of Lilith, Whore of the Desert. She refused to be a lesser being to God and left the Garden of Eden. Adam asked God for help in her return, to which God sent three angels to attempt getting her to return, she refused. The angels threatened tokill 100 of her offspring for each day she stayed away, to which she promised to prey on the descendants of Adam and Eve for all eternity. She is believed to be the mother of all incubi and succubi. Sounds like the perfect material for Glenn Danzig to create magic with, which makes the end result all the more frustrating.

The album was written and produced by Glenn, who also performed most of the instruments. It as far removed from his horror-punk and goth-metal as can be, a collection of slow and repetitive dirges with which to meditate on the darker things in life, and death. It is the kind of music that you could play on a dark and windy October night as you sit around the Ouija board trying to figure out which one of you black-clad, metal-studded, red wine drinking, eye-liner wearing goth buddies is moving the pointer around while sitting in a cemetery under a full moon.

The first time I listened to the album, I wasn't paying terribly close attention and only heard things that I liked. Upon further inspection, I found myself bored by what I heard. The dark dirges felt incomplete, as if they were the base tracks upon which Glenn was going to lay down the real substance of the work. To discover that this was it, I was rather disappointed. The idea of telling the story of Lilith musically is a good one, and there are some nice elements put together here. The problem is that it does not work as a standalone album. Black Aria II has the makings of being an incredibly moody, dark, and disturbing score to a film recounting a tale of epic horror against the backdrop of grand religious and spiritual implications. If there was a film to go along with this soundscape, this may be a worthwhile exercise in mild tedium.

There is not much in the way of recurring themes, or elements to connect one track to the next, much less tell a cohesive tale of darkness. Still, the meditative quality of the individual elements is something to be admired. The use of chants, bells, and organs all lend to the creepiness that is pervasive throught. Played at a low volume in a dark room, one could probably be convinced they are, or are about to be, visited by the demons of the night. With a little more cohesive structure and a building of themes, this could have been much stronger.

Glenn Danzig is a seriously scary guy. I strongly believe he lives the darkness that he portrays in his music, taking care to create this aura about him over his long and storied career. It is fascinating to see him branch out into other styles, despite the not so effectiveness of said creation.

Bottomline. This is a must for any Danzig completist, and a worth a listen for those looking for a taste of evil on a lonely Saturday night. Just do not go looking for any deep or revealing substance.

Mildly Recommended.


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