SAMHAIN — Initium (review)

SAMHAIN — Initium album cover Album · 1984 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Dammit, the need to give this record five stars never would have come to me and turned into such a pressing desire had I not received a perfectly beautiful vinyl copy of this great lost gem from mine very own halcyon high school daze what with the Anthrax shirts, the Slayer logo drawn on my arm, much more threatening than the Ozzy fingers of middle school, the cassettes, cassettes and more cassettes: everything from King Diamond to Napalm Death to Obituary and to then all time favorites Overkill and their scorching, burning _Years of Decay_. I think I wrote somewhere else about the coming of the force that was Glenn Danzig into my life, and yea verily, unquestionably it was a force that still reverberates all through me to the extent that now, after twenty-some years of listening to all these supposedly silly albums I find that I'm as transfixed and enraptured every bit as much as I was in high school or right thereafter.

Glub Glub Glub goes this album, first song on first side and there's wind and some thunder, there's some scary effects and there's Glenn coming in with some sort of incantation, a Satanic brain damaged Milton invoking the muse of himself and the devil, great beast, whatever, "Beyond race, beyond religion, beyond human's fears, I AM THE END!" Oh, if only Walt Whitman would've thought of that one, we could have had some really lovely visuals of swarthy young men dancing widdershins 'neath the blood moon as the civil war rages on around them. This record is something like that: a legitimate thing, an object that contains something so sick and down there, down a spiral stair, at the bottom in a rock walled tomb, and even lower where the soil itself is accursed and the smell of mulch and wormkind ever works its way in hot hellish wafts up to the nose. There is death in these grooves, and not a pretty clean killing sort of death (though there's plenty of killing) but more a rotting corpse at the bottom of a forgotten stair in a crumbling castle form of death.

Side One is a good slab of weird Danzig-y post punk, produced in a tin can filled with amylnitrate and formaldehyde or something, but still managing to have a nice attack, a good kick here and there, some rock out parts to go along with the goblin shouted choruses that are very similar but more demonic than the choruses on Misfits songs. It is a good time, side one of Initium, but the best stuff is definitely saved for the second side, especially the last three songs.

The Shift and The Howl are both longer than most of the tracks that have come already, but thematically both seem to be about werewolves or demons of some sort and turning into a monster. Not a subject that Glenn ever shied away from during the late seventies and early eighties. I always like "The Shift" better because of the really lovely drum beat and the way it puts a nice trance over the listener and turns into a very visual song, definitely check it out if you're into that sort of thing. "The Howl" is much more frantic and characteristic of an "average Samhain song" (whatever that might be) but in all it's talk of human slaughterhouses and hearing howls, I'm not quite sure if Glenn is the killer or the victim of the murderhouse where we find ourselves, again I wish his words could really convey what he sees just a little more, though really they do better than anyone has a right to expect.

"I am not your son of God The prince of light will show no fear Mine is that which rules this world The beast is come, I am the end

Archangel Archangel" --"Archangel"

Here we have Glenn worshiping the devil, shaking his fist at God and trying to open the seven seals to let demons come forth and take over the land as he was sent to do by God (the same one he's not the son of) but the fucking brood can't quite pull it off, I think, or maybe he pulls it off single-handedly after making all the members of the brood a nice warm home in the pits of hell. No matter, what does matter is that there's this really beautiful guitar on it that Glenn himself is playing, and there's these neat little breathy "wooo" things going on and that drum beat is definitely made for all the little demons to dance to. You know they need to dance and so did Glenn. At around five minutes, it's the longest Samhain song ever and a damn good one, so good in fact I'm going to go listen to it again.
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