Misfits_Famous+Monsters_5967There are no rules. Legal battles. Turning forty. A new singer. Sophomore slump. The seminal monster punk band takes all these ingredients and turns it into their best album ever.

A bold claim, but Famous Monsters backs it up. It’s the same great Misfits songwriting, now with modern production, a more expressive singer, and an even greater attention to melody and violence. Where Walk Among Us fired a machine gun at random, Famous Monsters takes precise aim and scores a perfect spread at a duly licensed gun-range because safety is important and these guys have Roth IRAs to manage now, doncha know.

Okay, the early spontaneity is missing, but the band sounds so good now it doesn’t matter. Doyle’s guttural guitars merge with Jerry’s bass to create a crushing bulldozer of sound, with Dr Chud’s drumming being downright inhuman(oid?). Replacement singer is Michale Graves is an astonishing find. His voice is rich and gleamingly smooth, like punk rock’s answer to Caruso. The band really should have worked harder to hold on to him.

The run of songs that starts from track 3 and finishes with track 7 is incredible, from the cruising power and energy of “Dust to Dust” and “Scream” to the coked-up thrashing of “Witch Hunt” and “Crawling Eye”, this is the stuff the Misfits are all about. Essential!

The later songs aren’t as strong, but they show the band’s more diverse side. Nobody these days knows how to mix punk with anything except ska and pop, but the Misfits would always convincingly combine their signature style with genres like NWOBHM and surf rock. Here we get a mini doo-wop epic called “Saturday Night”, and a plodding Cure-esque album closer called “Helena”

It has a few too many songs with few too little ideas, but that’s something you get used to with punk rock. Grognards will never accept any version of the band that doesn’t have Danzig behind the microphone, but everyone else will probably find Famous Monsters to be the strongest and most consistent Misfits album.

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