Misfits latest a very worthy departure
At first glance old Misfits fans might see the title “The Devil’s Rain” and be reminded of the line from their classic track “Skulls”. It’s actually a title inspired by a cult 70s film of the same name. Herein could lie a fundamental problem for some of the one track minders; people listening to this album for the first time are probably going to expect another typical Misfits release. It’s not. It is, however, an excellent album. The key here is the sound of a respected and a long since established group of musicians taking some relatively unexpected musical chances together.
The songwriting seems different than that of past Misfits albums. It comes across as sounding a bit more grownup throughout. Many of the songs draw more attention to song structure that some of their past releases may have been lacking. While some of their trademark sing-along style verses are done differently, “The Devil’s Rain” still retains the ability to hold the listener’s interest especially if the listener is looking for something fresh in a band from which people always expect a certain formula. This album is more like a rock n’ roll Misfits album, peppered with catchy hooks that are synonymous with the Misfits’ music. This time, there’s more guitar riffing than simple catchy chord progressions, especially during the opening measures of the songs.
Some apprehensions have existed since Jerry Only bassist and founder took over the vocal reins. It’s true that he does not sound like Glenn Danzig, or Michael Graves. He sounds like Jerry Only an appropriate and ample vocalist for this band. He is the founding member. He’s already proven himself as a capable front man.
Lyrically, many of the songs are, again, directly inspired by entertainment that has obviously influenced them over the years; the title track (“The Devil’s Rain”), Dark Shadows, Romero flicks.
All records have their stand out tracks. The lead track is a good anticipation builder; lyrically sound and musically foretelling of what to expect next. “Land of the Dead” was the first cut made available to the public on the band’s website, and probably for good reason. It’s one of the most typical sounding tracks that one might have come to expect from the band over the years, which is a good thing. Cuts like “Cold in Hell” and “Where Do They Go?” are good examples of their successful experimentation with arrangement. Both possess a particular feeling of early rock n’ roll nostalgia with sweetened melodies and background vocals mixed in a la “Saturday Night”, but are much more up tempo. While all of the songs have their memorable qualities, the tracks “Jack the Ripper”, and the album’s final cut “Death Ray”, take on a higher energy with an almost metal quality. The former utilizes Dez Cadena’s impressive guitar abilities effectively, and include well executed guitar solos a component previous Misfits albums aren’t particularly known for. “Death Ray” has some almost Judas Priest feeling riffs in parts, which is never bad. Both songs sound like great live crowd motivators.
The Devil’s Rain may not have some of the heaviness of the last few albums, but it is a great sounding album in itself. All of the instruments are nicely mixed, and that really creates a nice, effective cohesive unit. The production value of “The Devil’s Rain” is nearly flawless. They made a wise decision by working with long-time Ramones producer Ed Stasium again. Lovers and doubters alike listen, and then listen again. You’ll hear something new each time. It would be worth your precious time to do so.