Samhain - Initium (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Initium (1984)

Plan 9 / Caroline

As many/most of you do/should know, Samhain was Glenn Danzig's "mid-era" band, bridging the gap between the collapse of the Misfits and what would eventually become the Danzig that we know today. While today it appears that Samhain was Danzig's "underappreciated and forgotten" band, the truth is the during their existence Samhain was a much bigger band than the original Misfits were. And this doesn't come without good reason! With Samhain Glenn effectively strips his songs of the cartoonish horror film qualities of the Misfits, yet remains very physical and abrasive in delivery. Their first release, 1984's Initium, is a timeless classic of gothic punk/hardcore. The songs here are darker and deal more with real-life horrors than the songs of the Misfits. That is, however, not a cut to the Misfits who, in their own way, were one of the greatest hardcore bands of all time.

This explosive and chilling album opens with the two-part (half-spoken/half-song) "Initium/Samhain." Here we already see Glenn experimenting with things he never did with the Misfits: creepy background noises, distortion, etc. The second song, "Black Dream" is where the album really begins to take off; it is immediately evident that Danzig is going to survive just fine without Jerry Only and Co.

A dark, potent mix of hardcore, punk and metal, this album is literally one of the first true "death metal" albums. Goofy (in an endearing way) splatter-fest songs like "All Murder, All Guts, All Fun" and "He Who Cannot Be Named" prove that Glenn is still not without the sense of humor that ruled his former band. My favorite song on the album (and my favorite of Samhain's entire lineup) is the intense and punishing "Howl," a song that easily holds its own in the 10 greatest punk-metal songs of all time. The album closes with the brilliant "Archangel," a song originally written by Glenn for the Damned's Dave Vanian, a collaboration that never reached fruition, apparently due to Dave's busy scehdule.

This is a MUST HAVE for any fan of dark music and even for those who don't really care for Danzig's other work. Regardless of how you feel about his later stuff or the man himself, this album remains brilliant.