**Before Continuing: I’d like to add some slight addendums to PART 1 of this series – – – I’m man enough to admit my mistakes when made, of which there’s been some, entirely on my part. *(Though admittedly, when dealing with band lineages such this, things can get a little loopy.) As to SAMHAIN guitarist LYLE PRESLAR: He DID play in MINOR THREAT, STATE OF ALERT *(with ROLLINS, but never recorded with), and in the MEATMEN *(just before joining SAMHAIN). He then went on to run CAROLINE RECORDS *(which subsequently released most of DANZIG’S PLAN 9 RECORDS material), and has had an evermore interesting, somewhat calmer life since, though far from dull.. He NEVER played with DAG NASTY. *(Interestingly enough, however, BRIAN BAKER did go on to found DAG NASTY in 1985, and also did a stint in the MEATMEN himself – – – while PRESLAR was doing his stint for the same – – – a strange little Circle of Hells going on here). That said: BRIAN BAKER did NOT play in FUGAZI, but has played in MINOR THREAT, DAG NASTY, MEATMEN, BAD RELIGION, and toured with far too many to go on listing here. Many thanks to friend and fellow writer Oliver S., whose keen observations and similarly deep knowledge of music led him to politely informed me of the off-points. It would be ultimately shitty nonsense journalism on my part, and unfair to you, the reader, for me not to fix what’s been pointed out to me directly as a mistake on my end. I may be a dick sometimes, but I can’t sleep knowing that and not fixing it *(not that I sleep much anyway). On with the article, then. The information is presented as correctly as I’ve been able to research – – – if any issues regarding mistaken information are noticed, I implore readers to let me know, and I will attend to said issue. Or at the very least, research it further.
In mid-1984, by the time SAMHAIN had finished recording INITIUM, and played a handful of blood-soaked “local” shows, the trio of GLENN DANZIG/EERIE VON/STEVE ZING, promoting both the album’s official release date of August 1984 and the subsequent tour, had a bit of an issue in that a full lineup for the band had yet to be squared. LYLE PRESLAR had left, with apparently some seriously different directions with which he thought the band should take *(he came from the Str8XxXedge MINOR THREAT and left to form the Str8XxXedge/pre-emo DAG NASTY – – – the early DANZIG/D.C. connection of yore always threw me a bit, much like his Midwest connection, but that’s a different ponderance for perhaps another time).
Just after the LP recording, and just prior to the tour, PETER “DAMIEN” MARSHALL was enlisted finally on guitar, the perfect ghoul to fill out this *(currently) finalized lineup. Tall, pale and lanky, much like EERIE VON, they duo become the perfect ghouls to lurch over the audience like strange, Morgue Attendant body-snatchers, growling, lively and questionably alive columns of desiccation to enclose a demon-masqued or blood-encrusted GLENN as he raptured and writhed upon stage floors from coast-to-coast, riling all audiences into a ritualistic fury of whirling violence and paganistic release. The amazing, curvaceous SAMHAIN Succubi *(bearing a bit more than a slightly feminized facial resemblance to the MISFITS “Crimson Ghost” mascot) to don the UNHOLY PASSION cover really says it all.
However, before they had even left for the full U.S. tour, and just after the release of INITIUM, now with a deathly full lineup and a handful of new songs, SAMHAIN immediately hit the studio again, in the latter half of that same year, to record a further foray into their particular sonic abyss, UNHOLY PASSION. As EERIE VON states in his book Misery Obscura, what was to come would be “ – – – a departure from our first release: more underground, more tribal. A step back further into the darkness.”
Recorded in October of 1984, at REEL PLATINUM in Lodi, NJ, and released on GLENN’s PLAN 9 RECORDS label, the UNHOLY PASSION ep marked a further thematic descent down the well of despair and depravity for SAMHAIN. The sounds contained here are a little slower, a little eerier, far-removed and further matured, in a sense of musical growth, from those of its predecessor. They were still retaining the same vibes, only amplified: sensually wicked tribal lashings at strange interludes; the subject matter and music growing in an intensely more seductive, grimly-heavier direction, where Succubi thrived and the weak wasted away in eternal miseries of hell and hunger.
Though recorded in 1984, UNHOLY PASSION didn’t see release until January 1985, ultimately giving the band more material to perform on the *(essentially) joint-release tour, and more material to promote while out on the road. The opener, “Unholy Passion,” is one of the band’s best of their career, having slightly more of a U.K. Batcave Goth influence slithering in with that of a CELTIC FROST-like living burial of trapped despair. *(It cracks me up, I write all that about the song, but in every interview when asked about it, or on stage, he seems to love to proclaim to the world “Hey, this song’s about fukkin’”.) The refurbished MISFITS track on this ep is a much altered form of “All Hell Breaks Loose” *(possibly my favorite MISFITS song), here retitled as simply “All Hell.” The track is much slower, doomier, but rife with a thick intensity. The classic “Moribund” is the throat ripper of the ep, whilst the undeniably tribal, Celtic thromb of “Hungry End” brings us to a mysterious place of babies, meat slicers, kitchen tables and white gloves. “I Am Misery” sums up the general theme of this masterpiece of gloom, “Misery” here being an entity just as Death, though not nearly as nice. The album ends in the flat-lining deathknell heartbeat of a bass-drum kick, beating beyond the feedback from the resultant chaos into a final stop amidst the deathlike silence. UNHOLY PASSION is the logical growth of and follow up to INITIUM in every way, and the blackened basecoat to a darker, more sensual carnality that was to remain with DANZIG throughout the rest of his career.
GLENN still had the FIEND CLUB going, which he released two limited edition live albums through: BLACK DREAM captured a February 17th, 1985 INITIUM tour show from the Dancetaria in NY *(with STEVE ZING still on drums); the other, SEASON OF THE DEAD, was recorded April 13th, 1986, at the Cabaret in Chicago, IL, during the N-C-F tour *(with LONDON MAY on drums, all initially still on PLAN 9 RECORDS). Both of these shows were officially released in the 2000 SAMHAIN BOX SET, and as a solitary disc called SAMHAIN: LIVE ‘85-’86, in 2001. Seemingly, as with most things DANZIG-related, absolutely nothing could be easy, and SAMHAIN were still caught in their own Ouroboros of a hill to climb.
ENTER THE MISERY TOMB
As with all things seemingly DANZIG related, especially amongst this turbulent, whirling dervish time of transition, both member and creative stability were two things almost always in question. In now standard tradition and true to form, this proper lineup was to disintegrate. However, the lineup to come would go from SAMHAIN’S proper, to the ultimate.
Almost immediately after the INITIUM/UNHOLY PASSION tour, in the summer of 1985, STEVE ZING resigned his place as the band’s bash-beat artist, leaving SAMHAIN again a trio – – – one without a drummer. That wasn’t to last long, however, as an even more ferocious, primal drummer of this abstract darkness would almost immediately enter the grip of the band, rounding them out once again to a complete band. That strange man in black would be none other than human octopus, LONDON MAY.
Material was already in the works for the next SAMHAIN album, this one to fully sum up the essence of everything their philosophy entombed, without a doubt their ultimate release, a piece of music to stir and confound, and bring together, listeners from all sides of the many genres of dark musics, to this very day *(and happens to be my second favorite album of all time – – – perhaps my favorite-favorite come this time of year). A beast refined, if you will, ready to take down all in it’s path.
By this point, SAMHAIN had deservedly earned a unique name for themselves, proving to be a more in-the-darkest-depths-of-your-soul band than the MISFITS could ever hoped to have been *(which I really don’t think they ever, as a unit, particularly strove for – – – besides, JERRY has no soul – – – they were in-your-face, perhaps, but not to the most primal core of soul), and at a time when so much of the underground was trying to do just that *(remember, we’re talking the silliness of the U.S.’s “satanic panic” era, and the comic-book satanism of certain bands, in the midst of their *[deliberate] clash – – – when in reality there were certain things of a more genuine nature that just kind of slipped through the cracks – – – like this).
It was around this time that GLENN started wearing the infamous lead gloves as, in another time, performers and audiences were allowed to interact together if so desired *(and often if not). And SAMHAIN’S performances always consisted of a lycanthropic DANZIG who had no issue crawling into the slimy masses of fans at small and overpacked clubs, the show becoming a ritual and all becoming one, if only for that 35 minutes of stage-time. They looked like no one else, covered topics few could fully grasp, and had an indefinable sound, of which they were about to exponentially expound upon. As they took this new material into the studio, recording throughout the Autumn of 1985, this release would turn out to be the perfect album of Autumnal-Death Harvest Paganistic celebration ever put to recording.
What the SAMHAIN lineup of DANZIG/EERIE VON/DAMIEN/LONDON MAY was about to create was a showcase of sonic supernaturalism unlike anything else ever recorded.
UNHOLY PASSION lineup:
GLENN DANZIG – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard
EERIE VON – Bass, B. Vocals
STEVE ZING – Drums, B. Vocals
DAMIEN – Guitar *(Original release only – – – ???)
Vincent Daemon, writer, editor, musician, photgrapher, film/music buff and historian, and rabblerouser, can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/vincent.daemon.1 as well as his spontaneously updated blog of writing news and nonsense THE WRITINGS OF A DEPRAVED MIND http://vincentdaemon.blogspot.com/Some of his music can be painfully experienced at http://www.reverbnation.com/vincentdaemonsageofdesire3 His email is firstname.lastname@example.org