20 Years Ago Danzig Made A Techno Album For Disney’s Record Label: remembering Blackacidevil, Glenn Danzig’s lost industrial techno album.
When Glenn Danzig parted ways with his “classic lineup” in 1995 (guitarist John Christ, bassist Eerie Von and drummer Chuck Biscuits), it wasn’t on the best of terms.
He would also jump ship from Rick Rubin’s American Recordings label, amidst a legal battle and creative differences with the producer who shaped his band’s signature sound on their first four studio albums.
Freed from all prior restraints, Danzig decided to indulge his newfound love of industrial metal and techno (which started in earnest as Deep, a simmering tune heard on 1996’s Songs in the Key of X: Music from and Inspired by The X-Files). This period of experimentation resulted in the album Blackacidevil, released on Hollywood Records in 1996.
That label proved one of the most unlikely and discomfiting homes for Danzig, as it’s owned by Disney. Yes, you read correctly: for a moment a rocker associated with all things unholy was signed with the house of mouse. But more on that in a bit.
One’s enjoyment/appreciation of Blackacidevil depends on how invested you were in 90’s industrial and electronica. Given my love for NIN, Ministry and my burgeoning interest in the likes of The Prodigy and The Chemical Bros., I was willing to give it a shot.
The album has its moments: Sacrifice is a groove inflected number not too dissimilar from Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, with strident guitars aside gritty synth textures and dance beats. It was the album’s first single, resulting in a video that received minor airplay on MTV.
Album opener Seventh House is a slamming blast of white noise, featuring a one-take vocal performance sheathed in vocal distortion, while Power of Darkness would fit in perfectly at a rave or a mosh pit.
But the album’s Achilles heel is the production, a problem that has plagued all post-Rubin self-produced Danzig releases. Everything “goes to 11” so to speak, giving few songs a chance to breathe or express dynamics, save for the moody gothic closer Ashes or Come to Silver, a blues number originally written for Johnny Cash (and featuring a solo from Alice in Chains Jerry Cantrell).
Blackacidevil was such a departure from Danzig’s signature sound (although some subtle industrial elements were used on 1994’s underrated Danzig 4p) that a large chunk of his fanbase bailed. It’s to his credit, that he was apparently unconcerned about reaction to his musical evolution, saying in an interview that: “People either loved it or hated it, and we got a lot of new fans from its release. Hey, maybe some of the people who only liked “Mother” dropped out, and I’ve always said those fans are okay, when you get this big MTV exposure, but they’re not permanent fans. The core following you have is your most important thing.”
Blackacidevil’s commercial prospects became especially dire after Hollywood Records pulled promotion, and ousted him from the label. But how in the hell did he ever get signed to Disney’s label in the first place?
That is a bit of a mystery, although Danzig related in a separate interview that things were soured by a cartoon in Tower Records Pulse magazine: Roy Disney freaked out…he saw this Tower Pulse! political cartoon…It was of me and Michael Eisner shaking hands in Anti-Disneyland. Mickey Mouse had 666s on his head and people were in roller coasters on flames, there were upside-down crosses everywhere. It was pretty funny, but I guess he freaked….Rick Rubin was pissed… and sent him the “It’s Coming Down” video…the one where the guy gets the nail banged through his dick…Rick Rubin’s a big scumbag.
And that was that. Blackacidevil went out of print, only to be reissued on the E-Magine label in 2000 with a new cover and additional tracks, including Deeper (a remix of the X-Files track Deep). It’s gone out of print again, shuffling off this mortal coil most likely forevermore.
But for any diehard fan hoping this commercial misfire would send Danzig back onto more familiar turf, there was no such luck: his next album, 666: Satan’s Child would continue to flirt with industrial overtones as well as Nu-Metal. But it’s a far more consistent album that has held up better than Blackacidevil.
Danzig has always been content to follow his black mercurial heart, and in its own way, his ’96 breakup disc with Disney was the equivalent of Lou Reed’s equally abrasive 1977’s album Metal Machine Music, a middle-finger to convention and record company politics. And if you want an album that you can twirl glowsticks and bang your head at the same time, you could do worse.
Own Danzig’s Blackacidevil on Amazon: