|Genres||Deathrock, horror punk, heavy metal, gothic rock|
|Years active||1983–1987 (changed their name to Danzig)
(Reunions: 1999, 2011, 2012, 2014)
|Labels||Plan 9, Caroline Records|
|Associated acts||Danzig, Misfits, Son of Sam, Minor Threat, Bad Religion|
|Past members||Glenn Danzig
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 deathrock and heavy metal-infused style of horror punk than Danzig's previous band. By 1987 Samhain's membership evolved into a new band, Danzig.
Glenn Danzig originally planned Samhain as a side project with Eerie Von. After his earlier group, the Misfits, contentiously dissolved, Samhain 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 No. 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 the ancient Celtic New Year: Samhain, the origin of the modern Halloween. The band's name is typically pronounced "sam-hane", though when the word occurs in song lyrics, Danzig himself pronounces it "sah-win", in conformity with the generally accepted pronunciation of the eponymous ancient holiday.
Samhain's lyrics were much darker than those of the Misfits, with themes rooted in paganism and 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. Danzig has said that he wrote two songs ("Death Comes Ripping" and "Bloodfeast") 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 American 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. When 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 November 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 as he was already on tour with Iggy Pop. In interviews Danzig said that co-founder Eerie Von was not asked to participate because he had slandered former members of the band—notwithstanding Von's stand that he wouldn't have taken part in the reunion without Damien. Danzig had since stated that the band would not tour again.
Samhain would reunite again in October 2011 and 2012 as part of a series of shows called the Danzig Legacy performances. The shows consisted of a set from Danzig, Samhain, and a set of Misfits songs with Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein. Both London May and Steve Zing were part of this reunion.
- Glenn Danzig - vocals, guitar, keyboards, drums (1983-1987, 1999, 2011-2012): Founding member, sole songwriter, and lyricist.
- Brian Baker - guitar (1983): 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 - guitar (1984): Formerly of Minor Threat, played guitar on four tracks on Initium. Scheduling problems and an early difference of opinion over musical direction led to his departure from the band.
- Steve Zing - drums, bass (1983-1985, 1999, 2011-2012): Founding member. Played drums on Initium and Unholy Passion, also held drum and bass duties for the 1999 tour and the 2011 and 2012 Danzig Legacy shows.
- Eerie Von - bass, drums (1983-1987): Founding member. Played drums in early rehearsals.
- Pete "Damien" Marshall - guitar (1984-1986): Played guitar on Unholy Passion and November-Coming-Fire.
- London May - drums, bass (1985-1987, 1999, 2011-2012): Played drums on November-Coming-Fire and held drum and bass duties for the 1999 tour and the 2011 and 2012 Danzig Legacy shows.
- John Christ - guitar (1987): Played guitar on side one of Final Descent and the mostly unreleased Samhain Grim sessions.
- Touring Musicians
- Todd Youth - guitar (1999): Played guitar on the 1999 tour.
- Tommy Victor - guitar (2011-2012): Played guitar for the 2011 and 2012 Danzig Legacy shows.
- Session Musicians
- Al Pike - bass: Formerly of Reagan Youth. Played bass on Initium's "Archangel".
- Chuck Biscuits - drums: Never officially a member of Samhain, although he played drums on "Death...In Its Arms" from Final Descent.
- Initium (1984)
- Unholy Passion EP (1985)
- November-Coming-Fire (1986)
- Final Descent (1990)
- Box Set (2000)
- Samhain Live '85-'86 (2001)
- Cipollini, Christian. "Glenn Danzig - Horror Business". Penny Blood. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
- Samhain Live 85-86 (Videotape). E-Magine Records. September 5, 2000.
- Byron Coley and Jimmy Johnson (October 27, 1984). "Samhain Interview". Forced Exposure. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- Blush, Steven (1997). "Glenn Danzig". Seconds. Retrieved 24 October 2012.