Madison metal-rockers Helliphant aren't shy about their love affair with Glenn Danzig. Their song "Dark Surf," the third track on their new disc Powdered Tusk, dives into the guts of the best stuff by the musician's legendary metal band and finds a bit of shrapnel from the Misfits as well.
"Dark Surf" isn't a Danzig or Misfits cover, but Deacon Dr. Joe Schmoove (a.k.a. Joe Price, the band's vocalist) has taken a few lessons from the master in crafting a deep, resonant croon that punches you in the heart but sticks to your ribs. When the song kicks off with the line "Dark surf full of blood guts with shadow goblin men," sung in unison with the rhythm of the drums, it's pretty clear he's not going to be singing about rainbows and My Little Ponies.
While the track could be about the darker side of childhood kitsch and imagination -- pirates and Skeletor, perhaps -- it seems to invent some new nefarious characters based on real-life villains.
"The whole disc was written back when there was different leadership in this country," explains bassist G. Dig (a.k.a. Darwin Sampson). "There's an underlying dark theme throughout with references to shadowy characters, forced fellatio and surfing on a wave of guts."
These not-so-fuzzy images are backed by some metal riffage that would earn the devil horns of approval from both Beavis and Butt-Head and the more sophisticated Sabbath listener. At times it sounds like you're being chased down by a presidential Hummer on a dark highway, at others it's more of a tribal sacrifice, Lord of the Flies-style. Thanks to some jungle-ready drumming from Delicious C. Dazzle (a.k.a. Chad Ovshak), it seems that Dr. Schmoove might bellow "Piggy's got the conch!" or another cryptic line from the novel at any moment.
While the lyrics of "Dark Surf" don't hold a candle to William Golding's prose -- after all, the song was almost titled "Dark Surf Full of Blood and Guts and Hot Chicks Totally Rollin' in It," Sampson says -- it succeeds on the merits of its moxie, which takes as much from Marilyn as it does Glenn.
"Yeah, it delivers the bad news with a smile and a wink," Sampson says.
An MP3 of "Dark Surf" is available in the related downloads at right. More music by Helliphant is available on its MySpace page. Listen to a live rendition of the song and other selections from Powdered Tusk at the band's upcoming release party at the Frequency on Thursday, November 12.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.