Following in the footsteps of David Bowie‘s Pin Ups, which happens to be the inspiration behind the artwork design, Danzig gives ten tracks from the 60s through the 80s a heavy metal spin on the cover album Skeletons. Frontman Glenn Danzig revisits, and attempts to puts his own mark on, the songs of his childhood, ranging everywhere from the obvious Black Sabbath to ZZ Top and the Everly Brothers. Though what proves to be evident is that the punk and metal legend behind the Misfits, Samhain, and his namesake, is much better at creating original content than reworking known pieces.
Saying that Skeletons suffers from poor production may be an understatement. The album sounds as if it were recorded in Danzig’s garage with mediocre equipment and little time and energy spent equalizing sound levels and mastering: half of the track feature muffled music that becomes nothing more than background noise as the disproportionate vocals blare over the accompaniment.
Within just the opening track, “Devils Angels,” Danzig stamps the arrangments as his own; the original fuzzed out chords and focus on harmony is traded in for punk hollers and heavy exciting grooves. As Danzig is often thought of as the metal version of Elvis Presley it seems like a correct fit having the King’s “Let Yourself Go” make an appearance. The vocals are able to uphold Danzig’s title while the swing of early rock meets deep metal chugs.
Sadly the enjoyable sections of Skeletons are few and far between; surprisingly within Danzig’s own comfort zone is where a misstep is made. The glorious bass work of Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B” is stripped away: solos remain on par, yet the vocals feel forced and tired. Then Aerosmith’s “Lord of the Thighs” fails to impress: it is actually quite a bore. Danzig’s plan of attack for the entire album may have well been to replace all of the chord progressions with those of standard metal, and then pressing the repeat button.
Vocals take a downturn in “Action Woman” and “Crying in the Rain,” previously performed by The Litter and the Everly Brothers respectively. The former shows no care for pitch change and overextends lyrics making it appear that there was booze present in garage; whilst in the latter demonstrates that Danzig should stay out of ballad territory, for the heavy voice cannot effectively dance over so light and delicate of a song.
You win some and you lose some, and this can be counted as a loss: Danzig should have kept these Skeletons in the closet.