Awful lot of Misfits-related news lately and here is one that slipped through the cracks a bit. The band's second former singer, Michale Graves, released a new album of “horror rock” after dropping his more straight up rock effort, Vagabond, back in February.
The Lost Skeleton Returns was Kickstarter funded and contains seven re-recordings of songs Graves wrote from his stint in the Misfits (the American Psycho and Famous Monsters albums). Don't want to spend too much time on these since the songs have been in the punk rock bloodstream for over a decade. Some of the versions come close to equaling the original (“Scream”, “Dig Up Her Bones”, “Die Monster Die”, and “Fiend Club”) while others may just eclipse the Misfits versions. “American Psycho” has a slight vocal change that improves the track. “Fiend Without a Face” now features some belting from Graves in addition to the crooning. It injects some extra energy the Cuts From the Crypt version didn't have. On the flip side, the decision to lower the key of “Crying On a Saturday Night” an octave didn't do that song any favors. It was probably the best song in his era of the band and did not need such a change as the others are darned near the same arrangements as their respective Misfits takes.
The album also sports three new and superior recordings of tracks from Graves's 2005 album, Punk Rock Is Dead. “Beware” would have been one to hear redone but these are good too. The one that really sticks out here is “Dawn Of the Dead”. One of the strongest new songs is maybe a prequel in “Night Of the Living Dead” which is likely to draw unfair comparisons. Graves, or somebody, should try and perform the Romero trilogy of the “Night Of the Living Dead” (the Danzig Misfits version or Graves's own), “Dawn Of the Dead”, and the Graves Misfits' “Day Of the Dead”. They could span every era of the band and even throw on the really not so bad Jerry Only sung “Land Of the Dead”. Digressing...let's move on.
The real meat here is the new tracks, of which “NotLD” has already been mentioned. “Forbidden Planet” is a decent song that does not benefit from the additional screeching of guest vocalist Chris Motionless. “Last Man On Earth” is another standout track and is the one of the only ones that has multiple guitar parts. The lead part isn't complicated or busy but fits the track perfectly. Closing things is “Something Wicked”, which is okay. The CD should have ended a song earlier, being fitting as the Omega with “Last Man On Earth”.
Those songs were all more than fine but album's commencement offers possibly Michale Graves's best composition ever in its more or less title track,“Lost Skeleton”. His voice as an instrument has never been used better and there is a legitimate guitar riff and not just chords. It builds to its crescendo and still manages to thrash around. It's what puts The Lost Skeleton Returns firmly into four star territory. Judging by this song and his two penned tracks with Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg, Michale Graves might be edging toward a new apex in this genre.
The Lost Skeleton Returns is now available on CD at Michale Graves's website as well as digitally at Amazon and iTunes.