Just in time for Halloween, the Misfits return to celebrate the darker side of punk. Formed in 1977, the Lodi, New Jersey band -- bassist Jerry "Only" Caiafa, singer Glenn Danzig, and a rotating cast of guitarists and drummers -- threaded sneering four-chord rock with lyrics inspired by the schlock cinema of the '60s. Albums Earth A.D.
and Walk Among Us
feature rapid-fire anthems that rarely clock in at more than two minutes, but have kept fists pumping two decades later. When the Misfits split in 1984, Jerry joined guitar-slinging brother Paul "Doyle" Caiafa for an EP released under the moniker Kryst the Conqueror. Danzig went on to front the satanic Samhain, then christened his own ensemble, issuing a half-dozen albums. Fame had eluded Jerry and company until San Francisco bashers Metallica covered the Misfits' "Green Hell" on the 1987 EP "Garage Days Re-Revisited." The tribute brought Danzig's gore-rock to a new generation of spendthrift kids and spawned a series of CD re-releases. Craving some of the glory they'd worked so hard to achieve, the Caiafas rallied in 1996 with new singer Michale Graves and drummer Dr. Chud, and have been touring ever since. The new Misfits discs showcase a sleeker sound for the '90s, piling on layers of bristling, in-tune guitars and multitracked "whoa-oh" verses. For better or worse, the pioneer punkers' affinity for leather, zombie pompadours, and ghoul makeup hasn't waned. Now, Jerry Caiafa is spearheading the M-25 Tour, marking a quarter-century of Misfits mayhem and punk decadence. This installment of the group includes Jerry, Marky Ramone, Dez from Black Flag, and Robo (a Misfits alumnus). Paul's been home recuperating from a divorce, and neither Danzig nor Graves is in the current lineup. With so many notable no-shows, fans may wonder if this version of the Misfits is a party or funeral.