|Danzig: Il Demonio Nera|
|Written by Dan Macintosh|
|Tuesday, 26 July 2005|
The beauty (or in this case, is it the ugly?) of the DVD explosion is that edgy visual/musical artists can now present their visions completely uncensored to the public. So instead of trying to clean up impossibly dirty material, Danzig – and others like him – can release such challenging work entirely unchanged.
This collection of 12 music videos reveals Danzig’s two rather limited visual characters. The first is sort of a shirtless rocker, who comes off not unlike the blustery Ian Astbury of The Cult. The other is a more perverted, Prince-like character. This “Il Demonio Nera” DVD includes rare and unreleased music videos from '94-'97, where Danzig seemingly cannot decide between these two distinct personalities. Either he wants to conquer the rock world, like some sort of professional wrestler, or he just wants to creep folks out. The jury is still out on that one.
Interestingly, Glenn Danzig tends to change his personality, depending upon the musical sounds that back him up. For example, he is bare-chested and standing at a high altitude when singing “I Don’t Mind The Pain.” As he sings this one, he’s backed by a relatively straightforward, hard rock groove. The best moment of Danzig’s buff character – if you will -- arrives with his performance of “Cantspeak,” which is done in two versions here. One take is titled “Clean Version,” the other one is called the “Filter Pass Version,” and both of these were directed by Fred Stuher – although it’s tough to see any obvious differences between the pair. But the best aspect of this particular video is actually the song it accompanies. It finds Danzig appearing to be honest and vulnerable, instead of putting on a spooky façade. Its lyrics talk about the kinds of low feelings that can sometimes lead to suicide. In fact, Danzig speaks openly when he sings about wanting to kill himself, without ever coming off like he’s posing. When a person feels that low, it’s nearly impossible to put such feelings into words, which is where the song derives its blunt title. The video utilizes time-lapse photographic elements to help Danzig express his sour emotions.
It’s during this disc’s last three videos that Danzig’s shows off highly sexual side. Coincidently, ”Sadistikal,” “Sacrifice,” and “Serpentia” all begin with the letter “S.” But what that actually has to do with anything, I don’t really know. Nevertheless, with “Sadistikal,” Danzig explores sadomasochistic sexual ideas, accompanied by one big-breasted woman. The first take is done in black and white, and was previously unreleased – probably because of the scene where this porn actress shows off her nipples. There’s also a color version of the same video, likewise unreleased, which is actually a little scarier. That’s because the skeletons in it look more realistic, and less B-movie-ish when shown in full color. On “Serpentia,” the first take of this one is titled the “Unreleased Reg. Version,” and features women parading snakelike across the screen. But for the “Unreleased Alt. Version,” Danzig himself does the most of the screen slithering.
While Danzig is delving into deviant sexual themes, the music tends to change from crunchy guitar rock to stripped down faux-dance music. But with his menacing vocal tone, it’s not exactly party dance music. The viewer feels nasty, instead of feeling like getting down and doing the nasty.
This DVD’s opening video, called “Until You Call On The Dark,” is – like many of these clips - presented in two different versions. One is referred to as the “MTV Version,” whereas the other one is called “Go Performance.” The song itself stands out, due to the fact that it mixes together both of Danzig’s artistic personalities. The sound of it is relatively straight rock and roll, but its look is distinctly sexual. Although it’s hard to see everything that’s going on during the first “MTV Version,” the “Go Performance” reveals two scantily-clad women who are whipping the masked Danzig and band while they are playing. An audience is kept away from the players by a sort of meshed fence. Danzig crawls around on the ground like some sort of reptile, vainly attempting to connect with his audience. Or so it seems.
“Il Demonio Nera,” which translated means ‘the black demon,’ is packed with plenty of scary moments. Nevertheless, such ideas are more often suggested than displayed. So in a way, Danzig’s videos sometimes hearken back to the good old days, when horror movies frightened you mentally, instead of boringly shocked you visually. That’s not to say that this material is okay for the kiddies, though. “Sadistikal,” for instance, would at least be PG-13, if it were to be rated by The Motion Picture Academy. But for the most part, Danzig just plays dark mind games with these particular visuals.
It’s hard to tell from just this sampling exactly which direction Danzig is headed. For instance, if he continues to produce intelligent songs like “Cantspeak,” he may eventually earn the respect of the mainstream rock press. But if he panders to his audience with B-movie-like shock rock, as he’s so often done in the past, he’ll likely remain a musical anomaly. In fact, he could take a few tips from Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Reznor has somehow found a way to remain consistently dark, yet without losing any critical respect. He appeals to alternative and metal fans alike, yet he continues to stretch the boundaries of industrial music by including dance and back rock elements as well. So it is possible to be a weirdo, if you will, and still receive positive press.
Nevertheless, it may be a little premature to place such blanket judgments on a mere video collection such as this one. It isn’t something, after all, that intentionally follows a particular theme, or tries to get a specific message across. It is, instead, the simple packaging of a few music videos. Danzig’s recent CD output is probably a better meter of where his head is at anyhow. It would be fascinating, however, to see what Danzig could do with a long-form video, though. But for now, at least, this clip set gives us a look at an evolving artist who is well worth keeping an eye on.