“Iron Lung or Eyes of Love?”: A Review of the Misfits’ Static Age (1978)By Milo Paul | 27/4/18 1:36pm
You can’t keep a good Danzig down. That man has led bands that have defined entire genres, be it horror-punk, death-rock, and whatever the fuck his namesake band decides to be. Actually, it has; garbage. But, while the New Jersey Devil himself may have lost both his singing ability and his relevancy, the legacy left by his first band, The Misfits, remains untouchable. Their music has influenced everyone and anyone, from the pontificators of pop-punk in Blink-182, the thanes of thrash in Metallica, the Saints of Sikk Riffz in Screaming Females. Hell, even Sasha Grey loves The Misfits.
That said, if I were to review any of their albums, I’d pick Static Age. This album is to The Misfits what any of the first 3 albums of the Ramones were to the Ramones, with each individual track carving a notch into the tree of Punk Rock. When one reaches the end of this slasher soundtrack, you’ll find a heart reading “Us + The Misfits 4ever”. That’s right; this album can be your high-school sweetheart. You won’t need anything else afterwards.
Milo: The grandpappy of drone metal and grunge. The distortion of the guitar is caught into the coerciveness apparent in the equally distorted bass; the cymbals clap more than they chime. I feel like I’m staring at a wall (or a TV set), having some odiously intrusive thoughts pounding against the fuzzy grey of the room around me. To that end, “Static Age” almost turns into an early Joy Division song, or maybe a Warsaw song. At least, it would be if it lost all its adrenaline, which the song never does. Each “STATIC” Danzig cries makes me want to pump up my fist. Each thump of the bass and churning of the guitar’s higher strings seduces me, even if the noise of it all eventually gives me a headache. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, though; I think that’s the point, to present you something that sounds mindless or brain-dead. Danzig is calling out from inside of there, speaking for the rest of us against the banal adversity.
Trashcan Sam: The song structure is repetitive, and that’s saying a lot for a song less than 2 minutes. I get tired of the lack of creativity about around 5 seconds after the 1 minute mark. Music might be art, but art doesn’t go well with having sex in your girlfriend’s parents’ bed with your girlfriend. If anything, it kills the mood. I’d rather play “Hybrid Moments”.
Milo: THE SON OF “STATIC AGE”. Sounds like that could be either a Misfits tribute album name or a great description for “TV Casualty”. Both songs are thematically very similar in sound and in lyrics, expressing disdain towards the mind-numbing boredom of suburban New Jersey. New to this flavor of Misfits is the treatment of the drums, which expand past the clapping of its predecessor and rewards the rhythm section with aggressiveness. Overall, “TV Casualty” is more direct altogether; the syrupy bonding between the strings is not as overbearing, Danzig wails like a revolutionary rising up instead of a slave to the monotony either songs are confronting. PLEASE DON’T FEED MY TELEVISION SCREEN, PLEASE DON’T FEED MY TELEVISION SCREEN.
Trashcan Sam: WAAAAAHH, WaaAAHH!! I’m Danzig and I don’t reply to Christmas cards! I’m so antisocial! Bah humbug, Danzig’s lyrics are only revolutionary to 16 year olds who haven’t gotten themselves laid. This isn’t Joseph Stalin, this is just juvenile.
Milo: “Some Kinda Hate” is the closest the Misfits will get to garage rock on this album. While every other song present in here is infected with punk properness, “Some Kinda Hate” sounds like a lost Del Shannon demo that has gone through a musical bender. And if Del Shannon lost himself in his spirits and wrote a hyper-cynical song about romance. And if someone handed said boozed-out Mr. Shannon a chainsaw named “guitar” and told him to play. And if he then played.
The Misfits’ love for classic rock ‘n’ roll in the vein of Shannon and artists similar gives them an noticeable tactical advantage over their peers in this effort, creating what is likely the tightest song on “Static Age” and the most technically competent composition within their era of punk as a whole (in the U.S.). Even if the recording transforms the bass into a 2 minute fart, it is a damn good sounding fart.
Trashcan Sam: The Misfits should avoid solos. They can’t do them very well and their music sounds better when they ditch the cliché.
Milo: I honestly don’t understand why Danzig would write down the lyrics for this one, actually believe it had a meaning, and went on that ride for any reason other than shock value. Like, I get it, The Misfits are all about horror and anything having to do with it, but murdering babies and raping their mothers is so dark and morally void a topic that it’s almost funny to me how Danzig thought it would be “impressive” or “cool”. None of these concepts were featured in the films that inspired this band, so why does “Last Caress” have to be so edgy? My guess is as good as yours, but The Misfits come off as goofy nonetheless.
Who am I kidding though? This shit’s the bomb. “Last Caress” is a great example of what The Misfits sounded like at their, in my opinion, prime. When I first heard this song suddenly halt as Danzig finished his last note for that verse, the guitar’s distortion still gurgling, I got chills. I got chills and went completely, mind-numbingly bonkers when the instrumentals blew up in perfect time, in perfect punk putridity, in this beautiful sounding thunderclap that swept my heart away. Yeah, the lyrics are needlessly extreme for a 70s punk band, but whenever I hear “I GOT SOMETHING TO SAY”, I immediately jump into the air, throwing my fists all around, desperately trying to scream along to that exact line, to catch up before that exact line ends.
Trashcan Sam: They could play this song a little faster, I think.
Milo: God, could shut up for once? I highly doubt it would sound as good as it does now if they attempted to speedfreak it.
Milo: This track has the most ominous opening out of all the songs on this album. The guitar slides up and down the neck as though it were electricity passing over some mad scientist’s death machine; the drums pattering like a rising, angry force barely stifled by the bass that keeps it at bay. In terms of sheer musicality, “Return Of The Fly” serves as the closest The Misfits have gotten to converting the aesthetics of B movie horror films into audio-rhythmic form, especially so for its namesake movie. Where the song has its focus here is in that sound, working like The Misfits’ own death machine. The clang of the ride cymbal alludes to gaseous exhausts released, the chunkily bruising partnership between the strings eliciting powerful shock treatment to the eardrum.
Trashcan Sam: Danzig has never written dumber lyrics. These are shat-out shout-outs. No one could comfortably mosh to B-movie starlets receiving the good ol’ Misfits fanfare because no one wants to know some Betty White Bitch’s name, they want anger. We didn’t get that, we got an iMDB page.
Milo: The Siamese duo of sordid sex desires ends here, from “Last Caress” to “Hybrid Moments”. It is so damn ironic that the best songs off of The Misfits’ discography, spanning 40 years, are the ones that also refer to sexual assault, gangbangs, monster and psychopath nards by extension. “Hybrid Moments” is certainly no exception and it is in fact a quite guilty culprit regarding this tendency, but it still is a bombshell on a vinyl. The guitar is perfect; if The Ramones invented punk shredding, The Misfits perfected it. And, considering how many bands have been inspired by this song alone, I can see, hear, and understand why The Misfits have such a lasting legacy. I can also see millions of my fellow fans tensing up to those opening drums, veins popping up on the foreheads as they lay way in reluctant wait to explode for 2 seconds. 3 seconds and the clusterfuck of cackling kids will be crooning along with Danzig, these lyrics having already been etched into their skull. 4 seconds and parents stop existing. 1 minute and 42 seconds, The Misfits have done it again; the kids have put the song on repeat.
Trashcan Sam: Couldn’t agree more.
Milo & Trashcan Sam: WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138! WE ARE 138!
We like this song.
Milo: Yeah, I can get behind Martians wanting to fertilize humans, but did we need a reference to adolescent girls amidst their wet dreams? We didn’t, Danzig. You’re very lucky this song sounds good. Bitchin’ bass.
Trashcan Sam: This album is full of good listens, even great ones. This one is only good, so it’s kind of boring.
Trashcan Sam: The Misfits should stick to short songs. I have no idea what Danzig is singing about, but it seems just as uninteresting as this song. I couldn’t care less.
Milo: “Going down on a fireplug”. Jesus fucking Christ, Danzig.
Trashcan Sam: That’s a normal Friday for me.
Milo: I really enjoy everything about this song, forgetting the lyrics. There are points scattered throughout where Danzig holds this wonderfully angry note, usually when the instrumentals start speeding. And, when that isn’t the case, we’re given this surprisingly danceable ditty even with the blatancy of these punk guitars. I think this is owed in large part to the surfy drums, which are much more interested in rhythm than the other songs here. There’s just… a mountain of adrenaline that “Angelfuck” has boiling under the surface. I feel what we got as the end result is only a portion of its oily, testosterone-y nature, but it’s still a jam.
Milo: Slinking down the grimy roads of Sunset Boulevard with a leather jacket and chain and hair grease and a poster of James Dean and a cum-stained copy of Marilyn Monroe’s Playboy cover, we find our hero Danzig once again caring a little too much about what happens behind the closed doors of film titans. I mean, at least we’re given “Hollywood Babylon” out of this story! And yeah, it probably didn’t happen, but who can honestly tell with Danzig?
I love how there are spikes of clean guitar occasionally, the crack of whip that parts the distortion sounding so very dangerous. Dangerous and secretive, conspiratorial in the gloom of the songs subject matter.
Trashcan Sam: “Hollywood Babylon” suffers because it appears on this album. The guitars are old news and I don’t really care for the fetishistic interest in 1950s Hollywood.
Milo: GET FUCKING PUMPED. Flex those goddam muscles during the first 5 seconds, break out the berserker when that solo slimes out and your subconscious sucks it all in. Waste a fool this Friday with 4/4 time signatures, the forensics team will never fucking figure out what happened. WASTE A FOOL.
Okay, this song sells violence really, REALLY well. Fast and blunt, “Attitude” is the theme of the offender; someone pissed and ready to throw fists about it. Sure, the lyrics are meat-headed, but what could anyone expect? This is about kicking the ever-living shit out of some asshole. None of what is sung is meant to be Dylan and the lyrics can be outright Diogenean heckles with zero substance, but they accomplish their creators intent. Here is the soundtrack for your weekend fight club meeting, to be played as you curb stomp some poor soul.
P.S. please don’t do that
P.S.S. I highly recommend imagining that you are beating up your boss while you listen to this song if work was particularly bad today.
P.S.S.S. IMAGINE IT. Don’t let out the Pandora’s Box of pain just because The Misfits flipped the proverbial bitch switch.
Trashcan Sam: DO IT.
Trashcan Sam: Danzig has a lot to talk about with Oliver Stone.
Milo: An angry band that makes angry music by all accounts, “Bullet” brings a bit extra. Classic punk like “Attitude”, there’s a spirit to this song that the former lacks, and I’m still confused as to whether or not it’s subtle. Our singer is very reactionary, pointing the political finger in a not-even-two-minute wave of “Hollywood Babylon”-level tinfoil musing. This is deterred by the wholly less raw second half of the song that took a turn to the depraved, but I still fedl a derivative of Danzig’s normal anger when this mosh ends. “Texas is the reason”, as a lyric and through its delivery, is unusually declarative as a statement. The general opponent of The Misfits is nameless, the boring aesthetic of suburbia; the JFK assassination isn’t as simple as that. After all, each member of the Danzig era Misfits were children of the 60s, old enough to bear witness to what proceeded in that decade but just young enough to not fully comprehend it. In that sense, “Bullet” feels like an intensely dark and perverted ode to the 60s, dividing itself between the fears had by the youth of the time and the resulting grindhouse-esque voyeurism they developed as well. Dark times build dark people.
And I could be reading into this too much! Bite me.
Milo: There’s a lot of menace here. Scratchy guitar and feedback stampede all around the bass, tightening the atmosphere. Oddly, the drone of these recording sessions isn’t in the foreground and this apples loud sterility against the absurdism in a song that would have otherwise been a typical effort off this album.
Trashcan Sam: Experimental = filler.
Milo: Short and punchy like “Attitude”, “She” feels like its sibling. Not only similar in length, speed, and delivery, the track comes off as a change in the point of view about the same abusive situation, though maybe with more detail. It could be harebrained of me to say because I know the lyrics are about Patty Hearst? But I didn’t know that since the lyrics never actually name drop her? Thusly, when I first heard this one, I thought it was referring to whomever the narrator was figuratively threatening earlier in the album. That doesn’t really matter as we know the answer now? For like, 20 years?
God, why do I make headcanons about Misfits songs?
Trashcan Sam: Because you listen to music wrong. I take “She” as it is- a great track and nothing more.
Milo: Damn, do the guitars sound like MUD. No skateboarding video game would add this to its soundtrack when the guitars sound like fucking volcano farts.
Trashcan Sam: Amen.
Milo: I think this is the right song to end the album with. It’s down in the dirge, it’s got Danzig’s poetry, and it ends with one last moan on his part. Exemplifying everything this excerpt from the vault has got going for it, “In The Doorway” gives us the “doorway” for exiting this static hell The Misfits have allowed us access to. Thanks!
Trashcan Sam: Poetry Schmoetry. This makes me want to skulk around in black with a devilock and really heavy eyeliner.
Milo: You do that already.
Trashcan Sam: You can blame this album for that.
Milo: Anyway, that’s it for this review! We also recorded a cover of “Some Kinda Hate”, so check out that soundcloud link if you want!