The Misfits: The Devil's Rain (2011)
By: Devon B. on February 22, 2012  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Cover Art
Credits
Band Members: Jerry Only, Dez Cadena, Eric "Chupacabra" Arce
Label: Misfits Records
Country: USA
Track Listing
1. The Devil's Rain
2. Vivid Red
3. Land of the Dead
4. The Black Hole
5. Twilight of the Dead
6. Curse of the Mummy's Hand
7. Cold in Hell
8. Unexplained
9. Dark Shadows
10. Father
11. Jack the Ripper
12. Monkey's Paw
13. Where Do They Go?
14. Sleepwalkin'
15. Ghost of Frankenstein
16. Death Ray
The current incarnation of the Misfits is an awesome live band, but I readily admit that things got off to a shaky start when Only took over lead vocals. After seeing the first Only fronted Misfits tour, I thought he wasn't really up to being the lead vocalist, and Project 1950 didn't change my mind. I like all the tracks but I find the album a bit of a struggle to get through in a single listening, as the songs tend to blend together. Only can sing, but doesn't have a huge range, and the 50s rock they were covering wasn't that diverse to start with. I was surprised when I went to see the Project 1950 line up and was blown away at the amazing set made up of Misfits, Black Flag and Ramones songs. The songs had all been sped up and Only wasn't trying to clean sing so much as yell in key - and it worked. My hopes for some killer new Misfits tunes were elevated. A mere five years later the Misfits dropped a single, Land of the Dead. I went back to being fearful for the future, because the 80s metal sound just didn't work for me. The Jerry Lee Lewis feel of the b-side, Twilight of the Dead, suited me much better, but I was worried Only was heading back towards his Kryst the Conqueror days in terms of sound. When I got The Devil's Rain I popped the disc in with a definite sense of trepidation.

The title track started and I instantly thought of The Damned, but didn't mind the song. And generally, I held that opinion for the bulk of my listening. Only is not trying to sound like the Misfits of old, and there're probably a few good reasons for that, like the fact that there're heaps of Misfits clones bands these days, and there weren't when the Newfits first started. What Only's done is gone back to the roots of the Misfits and come up with a slew of horror-themed, revved up 50s style rock songs. Given the first thing Only recorded when he got more control over the group was 50s tunes, this makes sense, as he was clearly looking for a new Misfits template. I've been listening to the record a lot since receiving it and think I've come to terms with it, and overall I'm pleasantly surprised given the mediocre leading single. The 80s metal is still there, but I didn't find it anywhere near as distracting.

The Devil's Rain is slower paced and less frantic than long time listeners might expect from the Misfits, and there's no denying that this album is a bit simpler than some of its predecessors. I think the album is also diminished somewhat by its production which removes some of the oomph from the guitars, and pushes Only's voice too far to the fore. Only's vocals have gotten stronger, but they're not strong enough to dominate the mix. Overall I consider The Devil's Rain an improvement on Project 1950, and have no trouble with listening to it all the way through.

Land of the Dead and Twilight of the Dead have been re-recorded, and while I think I prefer the original release of Twilight, there's no question that Land has been greatly improved on the album version, with the single's foofoo vocal delivery significantly toned down allowing the listener to realise this is quite a good song. Similarly songs like The Black Hole, Unexplained and Monkey's Paw are really catchy. When this album works, the songs are fun cartoony horror that sound like something that would've fit perfectly on the soundtrack to Night of the Creeps. Where Do They Go? a happy little number about the House of Death murders in Mexico, is one instance where the poppy production benefits the song, and it's the kind of tongue in cheek "happy" look at something bleak and violent that might've happened in the original Misfits, or indeed The Ramones. While there's no denying the more recent Misfits line ups haven't been as sinister as the Danzig led era, and that Glenn would've probably gone into a bit more detail as to what specifically happened to the missing girls, this song really captures the feel of what I think the Misfits are about. Only was clearly never that interested in the genuinely dark stuff (see his reasons for Kryst) and The Devil's Rain is a fitting continuation of the part of the Misfits legacy that Only loves.

Unfortunately at 50 minutes the album is overlong, and so songs that drag, namely Curse of the Mummy's Hand and Sleepwalkin', I ended up skipping over after a few listens. There's also a sameyness the pervades a lot of the songs and herein lies my real disappoint with The Devil's Rain. The Misfits have opted to ignore their live sound, which is a shame because they are a hardcore juggernaut. I'm convinced this line up could produce a great 80s style hardcore record if they'd just play to their strengths. I'd even be happy if they just used a few full on hardcore assaults to break up the other songs a bit, because the closest they come to their live sound are the two songs written and sung by Dez Cadena.

I made it pretty clear in my review of 12 Hits From Hell that Jerry Only is my hero, and I like Only so much that I forgive him for being in a Christian metal band, so can you trust me? Probably not... but while The Devil's Rain is not the hardcore masterpiece I was hoping for, it's way better than I feared after the single.
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