Friday, October 28, 2011

Let the Day Begin

Samhain has occupied a special place in my heart for nearly twenty years. That all began when I bought a cassette compiling Initium and Unholy Passion for myself as a Christmas present. I got drunk in my room on Christmas Eve and proceeded to fall in love with this murky-sounding punk/death rock/metal hybrid. Metal didn’t exactly register with me then, but Samhain was different. Special, if you will. Maybe it was just the Misfits fan in me; I don’t know. When I stupidly sold most of my old punk tapes for reasons I cannot explain now, the Samhain tape was one of a few that stayed with me. There were times when I liked them more than I actually liked the Misfits. Bold statement, I know.

As much as I loved that Samhain tape, my favorite album of theirs is actually Samhain III: November-Coming-Fire. Apparently I am not alone in this sentiment, and rightfully so. Bridging the gap between the Misfits and Danzig perfectly, this record is Samhain’s most realized effort. The journey begins with the “Diablos ’88” intro going into “In My Grip,” which informed this first-time listener that things were going to be different this time. No more “ex-members of…” session musicians whose vision did not exactly jibe with that of the diminutive bandleader. The recording was bigger and louder. The songwriting had progressed far beyond the capabilities of either of Samhain’s previous records. No longer simply “Glenn Danzig from the Misfits’ new band,” Samhain had come into their own.

To me, this album’s centerpiece is “Let the Day Begin.” What a perfect title to such a wonderful song. Probably this record’s closest thing to a punk song overall, it starts with a slower tempo that actually evokes images of the sun rising. Then it kicks in to a very danceable beat that almost seems designed to inspire you to jump out of bed and kick ass on the world. You might as well cease to exist if you’re not ready to do exactly that after blasting this song about five times in a row. The lyrics appear to be along those same lines, asking pagans everywhere to rise up against the crusaders who desecrated their ancestors’ graves thousands of years before. These days, such sentiments are as much of a fashionable black metal pose as wearing a Thor’s Hammer necklace. Eh, whatever.

Don’t relegate Samhain to middle child status. They deserve better than that. November-Coming-Fire stands on its own as a great album and should be appreciated for being something different than the standard fare at the time it was released.


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