|Genres||Death rock, Horror punk, heavy metal, Gothic rock|
|Years active||1983–1987 (changed their name to Danzig)
|Labels||Plan 9, Caroline Records|
|Associated acts||Danzig, Son of Sam, The Misfits, Minor Threat, Bad Religion|
Pete "Damien" Marshall
Samhain was an American rock band formed by singer Glenn Danzig in 1983, immediately following his departure from The Misfits. Samhain played in more of a death rock- and heavy metal-infused style of horror punk than Danzig's previous band. By 1987 Samhain's membership evolved into a new band, Danzig.
Danzig originally planned Samhain as a side project, but after his earlier group, The Misfits, messily dissolved, it became his full-time band. Samhain is the least-celebrated of Danzig's major musical outlets and catalogs a transitional period in his musical career, bridging the gap between the punk rock of the Misfits and the dark, heavy metal and blues-influenced sound of Danzig. Both Samhain and its successor Danzig use the same horned skull image originally drawn by artist Michael Golden for the cover of the 1984 comic book The Saga of Crystar #8, published by Marvel Comics). The font often used in the name logo of Samhain, and later Danzig, is taken from the film The Giant Gila Monster.
Danzig took the name of the band from Samhain, the ancient Celtic New Year, which influenced the evolution of the modern Halloween. The band's name is typically pronounced "sam-hane" (i.e. the syllables rhyme with "ham" and "pain", respectively), though when the word occurs in song lyrics, Danzig himself pronounces it "sowin" (saw-win), in conformity with the generally accepted pronunciation of the name of the eponymous ancient holiday.
Samhain's lyrics were much darker than those of the Misfits, with themes rooted in the occult and eventually the horrors of reality, as opposed to the sometimes cartoonish ghouls and ghosts of the Misfits. Samhain's musical style was a dark, gritty, and experimental combination of punk, gothic rock, and on the last album, heavy metal.
Samhain released three full-length albums and one EP during their three year career as an active band. As a footnote, Danzig has said that he wrote all the song from Earth A.D with the intention of using them on the first Samhain album, but instead recorded them with the Misfits for the Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood album in order to round out that band's final series of recordings and release a full album.
Sometimes Danzig could be seen donning a bizarre horned leather S&M mask, and occasionally he and his bandmates went onstage covered in blood. Danzig would play guitar on live performances of the song Archangel, freeing his guitarist to instead perform a second bass track.
In 1986, Samhain was signed by Rick Rubin to his Def Jam label. Rubin at first wished only to sign Danzig. He hoped to assemble a "super-group" with the talented vocalist at the center, but Danzig refused to agree to the deal unless bassist Eerie Von could remain in the new group. Rubin and Danzig agreed, however, that the band's sound should be taken in a different direction, and so guitarist Damien was replaced by John Christ. Sometime in 1987, Danzig decided to change the name of Samhain to match his surname, Danzig, a move that would prevent him from ever again having to start anew, regardless of lineup changes. By the time drummer London May was replaced with Chuck Biscuits, Samhain officially ceased to exist, and the first Danzig lineup was complete.
In 1990, Samhain's final album, Final Descent, was released. Material for the album was completed in stages from 1986 to 1990, with one song ("Death...In Its Arms") recorded by the band Danzig, including drummer Chuck Biscuits (who had never been a member of Samhain) during the sessions for Danzig II: Lucifuge. On all other tracks, a drum machine was used. As much of the material for Final Descent was intended for a planned Samhain Grim album, its sound and songwriting bridges the gap between 1986's November Coming Fire and 1988's Danzig. In its first pressings, Final Descent also featured new remixed versions of the then out-of-print Unholy Passion EP. Possibly to avoid potential legal disputes with former guitarist Damien, Danzig had overdubbed/re-recorded all of the original guitar tracks with his own guitar playing. He also created a new track, a remix of the bass and vocal tracks from "I Am Misery", entitled "Misery Tomb".
When the Samhain Box Set was released in 2000, these remixes were given a CD of their own, taking the place of the original Unholy Passion EP, while the backend of Final Descent was filled out with four unreleased Samhain Grim era tracks, all featuring London May on drums. Among these were earlier, more abrasive arrangements of the eventual Danzig classics "Twist of Cain" and "Possession", a cover of Elvis Presley's "Trouble" (later re-recorded for the Danzig EPThrall: Demonsweatlive), and a faster version of "Lords of the Left Hand".
Samhain briefly reunited in 1999 to celebrate the release of the Box Set. They went on one national tour with the band Danzig headlining. The lineup consisted of Danzig, Zing, May, and then Danzig guitarist Todd Youth. Damien was initially asked to play guitar, but couldn't due to already being on tour with Iggy Pop. In interviews Danzig said that co-founder Eerie Von was not asked to participate due to him slandering other former members of the band. Danzig has since stated that the band will not tour again.