Misfits - Famous Monsters (retro review) (Cover Artwork)


Famous Monsters (retro review) (1999)

Roadrunner Records

Famous Monsters by horror-punk legends the Misfits was the last album that many members of the post-Danzig era lineup would play on as members of the band as vocalist Michale Graves, guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein and drummer Dr. Chud all left in 2000.

Famous Monsters boasted a heavier instrumental sound which added a powerful depth that packed a memorable punch, proving that the Misfits hadn’t lost all of their teeth when Danzig left. They were able to create walls of sound that were able to go from energetic, driving riffs to intense, foreboding soundscapes depending on the story being told. The arrangements were simple but played with a complexity that made them sound like a cohesive unit whose goal was to draw you into their world of monsters and never let you go. The songs flow from one to the next seamlessly without blending together, even though some use similar arrangements they are distinct enough to stand on their own. The vocal delivery throughout showcased Graves’ great vocal range through powerful soaring notes that were so powerful you could feel coursing through you. His voice isn’t monotone and moves fluidly up and down throughout the album which added another layer of definition to the songs and kept your attention which made you feel more engaged and like you were a part of the songs.

“Helena” is easily the most well-known song off Famous Monsters. It tells the story of a man so obsessed with a woman that he removes her limbs, so she won’t ever leave him which is based on the plot of the film Boxing Helena. The instrumentation is manic which paired with the first-person intensity of the lyrics gives you a disturbing look into the character’s mindset and makes you feel like you are chasing after someone or someone is chasing after you. The vocal delivery gets more and more desperate sounding as the song goes on as Graves incorporates growls and screams of frustration and need. It is a standout because it showed that among fun songs like “Fiend Club”, the Misfits were more than capable of producing visual songs with true horror at their core.

Famous Monsters showed the world that the Misfits, regardless of anyone’s opinions on their decisions, were able to forge ahead to make great music. With this album they proved that they could continue to grow and improve their sound by making their sound more defined than on American Psycho. Now I’m not saying that Famous Monsters is flawless, it does have some weak songs that are pretty forgettable, but it is an important part of the history of the band and solidifies the fact that the Misfits are one of the horror-punk’s greatest adapters. They were able to create something that, while not perfect, will stand the test of time and continue to draw new fans into both the music of the Misfits and horror-punk as a whole.