The Misfits, a group of teenagers who blended both the supernatural and artificial with an unmeasurable level of energy and punk music. Together, the combination seemed near heaven-sent, creating a new sub-genre of punk simply called “Horror Punk.”
The Misfits’ Static Age is an interesting breed of album. The original story of the album includes it being shelved for a number of years after no single record label was interested, multiple member shifts throughout the different stages of The Misfits, and one of the greatest punk records to ever be released finally in 1997.
The original recordings were done in 1978, the album would see multiple single releases that surfaced but nothing substantial until lead singer Glenn Danzig compiled the entire mixes of Static Age, wrapping them into a single package that was released in 1996. There were additional tapes found that led to the album finally coming to completion in 1997, 19 odd years of trials and tribulations that eventually paid off and came to a full stop.
Static Age begins with the self titled track “Static Age,” the track is a drum roll and scream filled match with a slick breakdown that slows the bulk of the track down for only a few moments before launching right back into the more frantic style that The Misfits would adopt and handle so well. Lead singer Danzig yells the lyrics “Static, Static, Static, We’re on a video rage,” the rage is simultaneously combined with the pounding ride cymbal hits from Mr. Jim and the blasting guitar from Franché Coma that seems to shake the airwaves themselves. The track then finds itself falling apart into this static pit before climbing back into the frantic manner with “TV Casualty.”
“TV Casualty” is where the lyrics of The Misfits begin to take the more horror style of punk that they were so well known for. Danzig sings the darker, more negative lyrics, “Hold on, I think I have to puke, there’s a spot in the corner where I always go. I like to feed the flies that I know.” The frantic yet depressed sound only amplifies with the use of television samples that end the track before fading into “Some Kinda Hate.”
This track slows the excitement down to let both bassist Jerry Only and guitarist Coma to take control. The percussion coming from Mr. Jim also adds to the change-ups that “Some Kinda Hate” has within its run time. The lyrics coming from Danzig are still rather horrific, explaining “Hear the cats cry, little tortured babies in pain. Cracked necks by settled limbs, they don’t hesitate.” Danzig also talks of “Maggots in the eye of love,” which is again unsettling.
Following is the track “Last Caress” which takes the action and ramps it right back up to energetic style that was heard before. This time Danzig makes some outstanding quotable lines, “Sweet lovely death, I am waiting for your breath. Come sweet death, one last caress.” This is one of the better lyrics featured on Static Age as it captures the spirit of The Misfits, a love and fascination with the end, or Death.
“Last Caress” also captures an uplifting sound on both this song, and the entire record of Static Age that creates a great duality within itself. The album combines horrid situations, pain and misery, and also a frantic and quicker style of play. The triple threat is The Misfits’ main formula and they have this massive amount of charisma about them. Static Age begs the listener to shout and play along as if the album is being heard for the first time all over again.
The following, “Return Of The Fly” is a callback to most obviously, Return of The Fly, The 1959 movie that featured none other than Vincent Price. The lyrics consist of mostly using the actors and actresses, plus the character names from the movie itself, “Return of The Fly, with Vincent Price…Helene Delambre, Helene Delambre, François, François. Cecile, Cecile, Cecile, Cecile.”
Then there is the famous track “We Are 138” and “Teenagers from Mars.” “We Are 138” was the first single released from Static Age and contained multiple tempo changes between breakdowns and constant speed increases. The track begins with a much simpler style of drum beat on the tom and snare before launching into what sounds like a feeding frenzy between the hi-hat and the guitar. It is chaotic, but ultimately entertaining to hear such an overwrought style of play being heard. “We Are 138” is what Jerry Only described as “ ’138’ is like people being treated as androids where you have a number instead of a name, so it’s like the human number would be a 138…”
The next track, “Teenagers From Mars” feels more like a punk ballad, the instrumentation all conspire together and are perfectly in sync between the crashing cymbals, the ripping guitar, or the buzzing bass that continuously echoes within the track’s background.
The track then leads into “Come Back” which is another outstanding track that begins with a simple drum beat before eventually building up with the strings to come into a raging collaboration with Danzig softly, almost speaking the lyrics “Come Back, little raven, and bite my face. I’ve been waiting, endless waiting. Come back and bite my face.” The Misfits then gradually pick up the pieces of the track where they start to play faster and faster, also rapidly changing up the tone of the track as well. “Come Back” ends almost abruptly and segues into the following “Angelfuck.”
“Angelfuck” is a track that ends almost as quickly as it begins, it follows some nice grooves from the bass and guitar and also features one of the heavier sounding percussion parts on Static Age. Coma changes up his style in “Angelfuck” so much that it is hard to comprehend exactly what is going on at certain parts of his set. His drums vary, and his quick fills add a swifter overcoat to the track.
“Hollywood Babylon” follows and becomes one of the more sing-a-long tracks of Static Age. It features a chorus that proudly chants “Hollywood Babylon” almost begging for people to join in backing up Danzig. Then “Attitude” trails behind and this feels like the third and final act of Static Age. It begins with “Attitude” which has an abrasive drum build up that launches into another feeding-frenzy between the drums and stringed instruments. It is a great energy releasing track that features more great lyrics, “Inside your fetal brain, there’s probably a whore. If you don’t shut your mouth, you’re gonna feel the floor.”
Then “Bullet” comes into frame, this is easily the fastest track on Static Age and it is also the most energetic as well. It takes no breaks as The Misfits instantly blast straight into a ravaging assault of instruments and lyrics. Danzig cries out “Texas is an outrage when your husband is dead, Texas is an outrage when they pick up his head. Texas is the reason that the President’s dead. This is an obvious reference to the 34th President, John F. Kennedy who was assassinated in the streets of Texas.
“Theme For A Jackal” follows and is a slower but still impactful track that speaks of “Stand(ing) idly by as they rape your children, Like you do now.” The lyrics are always a subject of controversy with The Misfits but the lyrics continue to add to the separating factor that they displayed. “Theme For A Jackal” is the first track to include the use of piano and it adds this dance like factor to the song. The “Dead Daughter in the river” lyric still reigns within this track and it seems that the entire band allows Danzig to take the center of attention when he sings this section of “Theme For A Jackal.”
Following is the track “She” which is another frantic assault on the ears. Surprisingly the lyrics do not focus primarily on death or destruction. The track takes more of a subtle approach to the lyrical style and “She” focuses more on the instrumentation. This is also true with the track “Spinal Remains.”
“Spinal Remains” goes back to a more horror-style of sound, but instead focuses on the instrumentation, primarily the stringed instruments. The guitar feels like the centerfold of this track as it casually moves between the fret-board during the second verse and the chorus. The chorus of the track is where the guitar shines through and almost seems to take total control of “Spinal Remains.”
Lastly, the track “In The Doorway” sends Static Age on its swan song. It is a chilled approach to a song, almost ending the record with more of a dust settle than a blaze of glory. It still features great use of the instruments coming together before finally succumbing to a deathly silence. Static Age speaks in volumes, creating waves in both punk music and society. Even 38 years later, Static Age still stands as a monument, or as Jerry Only himself said, “You’re listening to it almost twenty years later, and the thing still kicks ass.”