CD Review: Misfits – Dead Alive

CD Review: Misfits – Dead Alive
Misfits Records
All Access Review: C

Misfits - Dead Alive 2013
The fiends are getting restless, as ominous thunderstorm sound effects rumble in the distance, signaling in a not-so-subtle way that evil, in the form of horror-punks the Misfits, this way comes. 

Led by founding member Jerry Only and his “devil’s lock,” with Dez Cadena on guitar and Eric “Chupacabra” Arce on drums, the Misfits – Glenn Danzig nowhere to be found, having split from the band in the mid-1980s amid much legal wrangling – crawl and slither out onstage to regale hardcore hooting and whistling followers with B-movie-inspired tales of monsters, murderers and other things that go bump in the night.

Only it’s almost impossible to discern just what’s happening in a good chuck of their latest concert album Dead Alive because Only’s bass is turned up to ludicrously loud levels, overloading the Misfits’ circuits and creating these formless, muddled sonic black holes that practically swallow whatever malevolent chords and notes are supposed to be hemorrhaging from their amps. Dead Alive culls spirited performances from the Misfits’ Halloween night 2011 show at B.B. King’s in Times Square in New York City and their Oct. 30, 2011 gig at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, N.J., and their brutality has never been more delightfully injurious, from their punishing rhythmic mayhem to Only’s strong, broad-shouldered vocals. But the egregious sound problems muffles their roar, obscuring Cadena’s guitar work, dulling the hooks of “Death Ray,” mucking up an otherwise rambunctious “Shining” and reducing the song structure of a riotous, fast-paced “American Psycho” to complete and utter ruin.

Okay, punk is messy. It’s not meant to be well-scrubbed and clean-sounding, and the Misfits play with the kind of raw, reckless abandon, violence and frenzied energy hoped for from these old, intractable punks on an explosive version of “Vivid Red” and the brawling, bludgeoning opener “The Devil’s Rain,” from the 2011 album of the same name. Threatening to go thermonuclear the rest of the way, Only counts off “1, 2, 3” as the Misfits launch into a blistering “Land of the Dead,” but it’s here where the mix starts to go awry, the virus spreading to straight-line revivals of “Curse of the Mummy’s Hand” and “Cold in Hell” – continuing, by the way, a run of seven straight songs off The Devil’s Rain – where Arce’s straightforward drum bashing gets completely out of hand and loses all sense of timing. It’s like he’s hitting his cymbals with a lead pipe, which would be punk as hell were it not for Dead Alive’s obvious faults.

Opinions vary wildly as to the merits of the The Devil’s Rain LP, the Misfits’ first studio album in ages. Many who pine for Danzig’s return have, for the most part, written off this incarnation of the band, while the Only backers seem generally pleased, if not overly excited, about it. There is reason for optimism, though, as the Misfits close Dead Alive in celebratory fashion, gaining a tighter rein on a hook-laden, riff-mongering “Helena” that hits hard and explodes, before the bruising, greaser ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia of “Science Fiction/Double Feature” and “Saturday Night” lights up the night.

The world needs the Misfits and their ghoulish fun, and Only deserves kudos not only for his improved singing, but also for keeping the band going, even if some aren’t entirely sure of their direction. (

-            Peter Lindblad


  1. Nice review. I totally agree with you on the mix, Amercian Psycho was a mess, and the Shining ( a personal fave of mine) got lost in the shuffle of out of time instruments. Its a shame really. Cause Evil live 2 was garbage production wise, and I hoped this would clean the slate. Not so.

  2. Thanks, man. I couldn't agree more. It really is a shame, and I'm pulling for Jerry Only and the boys. I want the Misfits to stick around. What did you think of The Devil's Rain?