Samhain (band)

Samhain (band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = Samhain
Img_capt = Promotional shot of Samhain, ca. 1986
Background = group_or_band
Origin =
Instruments = Guitar, vocals, bass, drums
Years_active = 1983–1987 (changed their name to Danzig)
(Reunions: 1999)
Label = Plan 9, Caroline Records
Current_members =
Past_members = Glenn Danzig
John Christ
Brian Baker
Lyle Preslar
Al Pike
Steve Zing
Eerie Von
Pete "Damien" Marshall
London May
Todd Youth
Chuck Biscuits

Samhain was a Death rock/Horror Punk band formed by singer Glenn Danzig in 1983. The group's membership evolved into Danzig by 1987.

Band history

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).

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 "sa-wun", in conformity with the generally accepted pronunciation of the name of the eponymous ancient holiday. This is evident in the song "Samhain" itself, and in "November's Fire" and the Danzig song "Soul on Fire".

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 two full-length albums and one EP during their three year career as an active band. As a footnote, Danzig has said that he wrote the songs "Bloodfeast" and "Death Comes Ripping" 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.

Live shows

A Samhain show was an energetic and unpredictable event. Sometimes Danzig could be seen donning a bizarre demon-shaped leather S&M mask and occasionally he and his bandmates went onstage covered in mock blood.

Next band

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.

Late album

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 "". 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 EP""), 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.


*Glenn Danzig: Founding member. Vocals/guitar/keyboards/drums, also sole songwriter and lyricist. Also a member of Danzig.
*Brian Baker Founding member, formerly of Minor Threat. Played only in rehearsals, but was meant to be a permanent member. Left because he didn't feel his playing was cohesive with the other members.
*Lyle Preslar: Founding member, formerly of Minor Threat. Guitar on four tracks on "Initium" only. Scheduling problems and an early difference of opinion over musical direction led to his non-involvement in the band.
*Al Pike: Formerly of Reagan Youth. Played bass on "Initium"'s "Archangel".
*Steve Zing: Founding member. Drums on "Initium" and "Unholy Passion", also held Drum and Bass duties for the 1999 tour.
*Eerie Von: Bass, backing vocals. Also a member of Danzig.
*Pete "Damien" Marshall: Guitar on "Unholy Passion" and "November-Coming-Fire".
*London May: Drums on "November-Coming-Fire" and held drum and bass duties for the 1999 tour, ex-Reptile House.
*Todd Youth: Guitar on the 1999 tour only, also played on the related Son of Sam side project with Davey Havok, Steve Zing and London May.
*John Christ: Guitar on side one of "Final Descent" and the mostly unreleased "Samhain Grim" sessions. Also played in Danzig.
*Chuck Biscuits: Never actually a member of Samhain, although he played drums on "Death...In Its Arms" from "Final Descent". Also a member of Danzig.


*"Initium" (1984)
*"Unholy Passion EP" (1985)
*"November-Coming-Fire" (1986)
*"Final Descent" (1990)
*"Box Set" (2000)
*"Samhain Live '85-'86" (2001)

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