HORROR MONTH #10: Walk Among Us, by Misfits (1982)

Type of Media: Music Album

Punk music often goes hand in hand with being political. Fuck the government! Fuck suburbia! Fuck Reagan! I think it's borderline impossible to find a UK punk band that doesn't have at least one song telling either the Queen or Margaret Thatcher to go shove one.

Which is why, in 1982, it was a bit of a shock to get a punk rock band that wasn't political at all. Their only goal was to have fun. They played fast, driving songs with lyrics ripped from schlocky B-grade horror flicks, and they dressed like gothic greasers with their hair all slicked forward to a point (a style called 'the devilock' that thankfully never caught on). This was Misfits, and they are the originators of horror punk.

Walk Among Us, their first album, is a proudly silly take on horror with stripped-down punk instrumentation, like Blitzkrieg Bop meets The Monster Mash. Many of the songs are boldly ridiculous, like opening track 20 Eyes where lead singer Glenn Danzig laments that having 20 eyes really crowds up his face and gives him too much to look at. Braineaters, the closing track, features the band as a chorus of zombies chanting "oi oi oi" and complaining that their diets consist of too many brains and not enough guts.

Even songs where the lyrics turn gruesome, like Devil's Whorehouse and live track Mommy Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight, are presented in such an upbeat way that the violence and sex in them comes off as inoffensive and cartoonish. Probably the best example of this is Skulls, a song that features the ghoulish line "I hack the heads off little girls and put 'em on my wall", but since Danzig and background singer/bassist Jerry Only deliver it with a theatrical yell accompanied by a punk drum loop, Misfits manages to turn it into a rowdy singalong. Put that song on in a bar and by the end the whole joint will be wailing along to the chorus "I want your skull/I need your skull!"

Instrumentally Walk Among Us is far from revolutionary. A lot of the songs are repetitive, with the same beats, the same bass lines, and the same guitar licks. However, the longest song is a scant 3 minutes and the whole album only lasts 25. Misfits get in, present their concept, have some fun with it, then get out without overstaying their welcome. Besides, in true punk fashion, the strength of the musicians isn't in their technical ability but rather in the energy they play with. And if the Misfits have anything other than their sense of humor, it's energy.

Walk Among Us is a great Halloween album, good for putting on at a party to get some raucous vibes flowing, or for listening beforehand to psych yourself up for a long, fun night. If you find yourself out at a Halloween party where you don't know anyone, just start singing the chorus to Skulls and you'll instantly make at least one friend in the room.