Forgotten Gems: Misfits - Legacy of Brutality
by Robert Dean
With their first show together in over 30 years, The Misfits are finally back together - for at least two shows. To put it lightly for many of us, this is a monumental, huge fucking deal. From metalheads to punks, to goths, to weirdos and everyone in between, there are generations of outsiders with a soft spot for those original Glenn Danzig-fronted records.
For some, seeing Guns n' Roses was a big deal. For many punk rockers like me, this is the reunion we’ve waited our whole lives for. I won’t pretend to be an impartial journalist in this piece – I can’t. I have the Crimson Ghost tattooed on the back of my leg. My son has little Misfits shirts; I have a custom Chrome bag with the Crimson Ghost on it that is my security blanket, its been all over the world with me. I am most definitely a die-hard. They are without a doubt one of my favorite bands, ever.
So, that leads us to the point of this article: around here in FTMLand; we’ve been kicking around some new article ideas. This is the first in a series I plan on penning that revisits classic records, classic bands, some obscure records that are flawless, but the group disappeared, or just bands that are fantastic that you’re not thinking about.
The Misfits are very much on everyone’s cultural radar. But, to kick off the series, I wanted to do a retrospective review of what I feel is the unquestionable best Misfits record: Legacy of Brutality.
While yes, the catalog is small, and they’ll likely play everything during their sets, it’s Legacy that shows so much of what the band could have been, and what a lot of Samhain and Danzig did go on to become.
Legacy of Brutality is a steamroller of a record with zero weak spots, hell on Theme of a Jackal: they manage to get your violent sleaze going with a piano driven riff that more swagger in two notes than most virtuosos can muster flying down the ivories. But, that’s the classic concoction of the Misfits, the songs are laughably easy to play, but in their simplicity lies the real genius: they’re catchy and so raw they seemingly get better with age. They never feel dated, the Misfits have the quality of many of the great classic rock bands, that despite audibly signaling a different era, the concoction was perfect.
Given its basement budget, Legacy of Brutality is still clear despite having any technical bells and whistles. The pace and tonality is frantic. It works because it’s a real DIY recording and without pretense.
These guys were hitting record and nailing everything just as they would live. When punk bands layer guitars and try to be like The Who, it just sucks. On Legacy, the guitars and bass are a murky buzz saw that melds together into one moving wave of crust. No one was doing Misfits stuff, before the Misfits – the spooky tinges of rockabilly on American Nightmare so what Danzig’s mind was on, while Angelfuck is a scream your heart out thrill ride. Come Back is almost a violent country tune, while Some of Kind of Hate has a feverish groove that is a slow burn, but a song that’s considered one of the All Time Classics.
Legacy of Brutality has She, Halloween, Who Killed Marilyn and what’s widely considered the greatest Misfits song ever: Hybrid Moments. But, what makes the record work like a ticking time bomb are all of the musical flavors present, the weird samples in TV Casualty, the sheer blackness of just - everything.
Danzig has had a long, colorful career and has some amazing things in his life, but this is a homecoming, a moment his fans have been clamoring for. Why sure, you can love his vocal range on the later stuff like, How The Gods Kill, but it’ll never have the bite of him screaming, “I ain’t no goddamned son of a bitch, you’d better think about it, baby.”
So many riffs, fashion trends, iconography has been drawn from this little punk band in black from Lodi, New Jersey that was around for six years. But, three decades after they broke up, all of the old guys, the new kids and everyone who got turned on to the Misfits with those ambitious “collection” records is finally witnessing the reunion we swore Jerry and Glenn would never allow. Halloween is upon us.
Legacy of Brutality is available on iTunes, Amazon, etc.
*review mostly unedited*