Misfits are one of the most recognizable bands of all time. Not many other groups combined Elvis-inspired crooning and punk with the macabre, and invented an infamous haircut that’s business on the sides and party down the front of your face. Even their crimson ghost logo is so ubiquitous that you’ll see it on toddler onesies, dog bandanas, and apparel for people who’ve never even heard of them. Hey, we don’t judge. But we will judge their studio albums. Here goes.
7. The Devil’s Rain (2011)
It’s not Danzig era. It’s not even Graves era. This is Jerry Only singing. Like lead singing. Sure, there are some bright spots if you look close enough, but overall it feels like a watered down version of a previously watered down version of the band. Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein isn’t even on it. Misfits are usually at their best when there are at least two devilock hairstyles in the group at a time.
Play it again: Once is enough.
Skip it: “Death Ray” (It’s the last song on their last studio album and it’s last ranked. Bad sign.)
6. Project 1950 (2003)
The first appearance of Only-era Misfits came in the form of this collection of covers. It also features Marky Ramone on drums and Dez Cadena of Black Flag on guitar, so it’s barely a Misfits lineup. It’d be like if Krist Novoselic recorded a new Nirvana album with the drummer of Pearl Jam and guitarist from Soundgarden and acted as if it was business as usual. Doesn’t sit right.
Play it again: “Monster Mash” (Probably makes sense they covered this one at some point.)
Skip it: “Diana” or “Donna” (Can’t remember which. Maybe both just to be safe.)
5. American Psycho (1997)
The Graves era endured from 1995 to 2000, which means it had more staying power than the Confederacy. This first Graves record is pretty good on its own merits, but it almost feels like a sequel to a beloved movie. Same genre, similar plot, familiar characters, but new villain who just so happened to come out years later as a Proud Boy and was probably at the January 6th insurrection for all we know. Memorable casting nonetheless.
Play it again: “American Psycho” (The “whooooas” make it feel like vintage Misfits.)
Skip it: “Walk Among Us” (There’s only one Misfits “Walk Among Us” and this isn’t it.)
4. Famous Monsters (1999)
This one is honestly solid, but it doesn’t have that same “I killed a baby today” lyrical urgency like some of the others. It has elements of punk and metal layered with catchy hooks, so it’s very easy on the ears. The sound is also very polished, which probably makes it a more friendly introduction to the band if you’re just starting your punk journey, until you have enough experience to become a seasoned vet who can, and probably should, dismiss this record entirely.
Play it again: The first nine seconds of “The Crawling Eye,” the middle part of “Helena,” and the last 90 seconds of “Pumpkinhead.”
Skip it: “Kong at the Gates” and “Kong Unleashed” (Does the world need two King Kong-related tracks?)
3. Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood (1983)
This one is fast, aggressive, and probably their most blood-curdling studio release. And hey, it’s even got our old pal Glenn. One of the great things about Misfits and this album in particular is that almost none of their songs are personal. While other singers complain about their love lives or going down on Dave Coulier in a theater, Danzig is imagining what it’s like to be a werewolf ripping out the throats of unsuspecting humans. It’s refreshing.
Play it again: Yes.
Skip it: This is the shortest Misfits album, so if you skip just one of these songs, that’s like 30% of the record.
2. Static Age (1996) (Originally recorded in 1978)
With classic tracks like “Hybrid Moments,” “Last Caress,” and “Teenagers From Mars,” you could easily rank this number one. We didn’t though. But it’s got that demo quality charm that they abandoned in later releases, which proves that bands should never evolve their sound too much (see “Devil’s Rain”) despite the human urge to grow creatively and write and direct “Verotika.”
Play it again: Pretty much any of them.
Skip it: Maybe “Come Back” (It’s like a spooky Doors song about a dead guy who wants the raven that was eating his face to come back for more. Probably because he’s lonely being dead and all. Actually, maybe I should revisit this one.)
1. Walk Among Us (1982)
This is the Misfits mission statement. It’s an album so good that it inspired millions of punk, hardcore, and metal bands for decades to come and as many as dozens of horror punk bands. Lyrically this record is groundbreaking too. Bob Dylan never wrote anything as important or profound as “I want your skull, I need your skull.” Danzig was just on another level.
Play it again: It’s only 24 minutes long. Play it all again. You’ve got the time.
Skip it: Skip the “Braineaters” track and jump straight to the music video they made for it. It’ll enhance the experience.