Tour's vampires meet in the dark

Special to The Times

Overkill is a vital tradition in hard rock. Boring is never good. So the fully committed hard-rock star will stop at nothing to prevail: noise, demons, muscles, long hair and clothes an extra-dark shade of vampire black. Glenn Danzig has mastered it all.

At the Wiltern LG on Wednesday, the singer arrived as a pale barbarian rock dude stomping across the stage mucho-macho-like, pounding a microphone hard against his chest. Which is just how the fans wanted it, pumping their own fists and devil's horns high into the air, and shouting along to Danzig's deep catalog of black metal and original-recipe hard-core punk.

It was the latest stop on Danzig's third annual Blackest of the Black Tour, which also included sets by Lacuna Coil, the Haunted, Belphegor and Asesino, each offering bleak tales from the musical dark side. But Danzig has been at it longer than most, beginning as the founding frontman of the early U.S. punk act the Misfits, now two decades behind him, though it still accounts for some of his intense following.

His best recent songs owe something to those early days, when he first understood the simple pleasure of a raging guitar riff played with a touch of swing and some brutal flow in the vocals.

At the Wiltern, Danzig's namesake band only occasionally drifted into rudimentary metal patterns. The rest was firmly rooted in the drive and looseness of classic hard-core, more Fear than Sabbath, and easily more confrontational than the newest generation of punk-goth-pop-metal-etc. (AFI, Avenged Sevenfold, et al.).

There was nothing of Danzig's new instrumental solo album, "Black Aria II," a brooding "classical" release that at least proves his ongoing goth bona fides.

Instead, Danzig shouted his brooding hit parade -- all the way back to songs from the Misfits and Samhain -- culminating with that catchy MTV hit "Mother."

Main support act Lacuna Coil, the steadily rising Italian metal band, remains a promising hard-rock unit. On Wednesday, the band exhibited noticeable growth in a live set that was tight, energetic and subtly choreographed. Bassist Marco Coti Zelati and guitarists Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi were bent so far over their instruments that they were virtually banging their foreheads on the stage floor.

The star of this act was singer Cristina Scabbia, who traded melodic verses with vocalist Andrea Ferro against a polished wall of sludge. The Lacuna Coil sound was powerful, yet it lacked the instrumental virtuosity to shove it into tighter focus -- with no one filling the role of a Jimmy Page or a Daron Malakian to fully ignite the songs.

"Fragile" (from the band's current album, "Karmacode") had stirring beats and the raw melodic ingredients, but the band will need to put a finer melodic point on its sound, much as it did on a fine, gloomy take on Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence." And a little overkill wouldn't hurt.

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