In Time For Halloween

October 25th, 2005
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Samhain is back, in DVD form. Simply titled Live 1984 – Stardust Ballroom, Samhain and Danzig fans are given a treat, instead of the torture that was Il Demonio Nera. This isn’t a number of rehashed music videos, this is the real deal. We are given a live set from early in their career, with Eerie Von, Damien, Steve Zing and of course Glenn Danzig, playing Samhain’s own style of dark, brooding, hardcore punk. Unlike the video in the Samhain boxed set, this one is easy on the eyes and ears. It looks as if the camera work was done by the venue, since there are shots from either side of the stage, as well as occasional close-ups on all the members. Fortunately for us, the sound doesn’t appear to be from the cameras, but from the sound board. While there are pops, static, and the occasional audio dropout, the sound is more than listenable, and for the most part has the quality of being at a live show.

15 tracks of pure intensity, over 45 minutes of Glenn and Co. playing through their set, it’s a pleasure to watch. Established Samhain tracks, such as “All Murder, All Guts, All Fun,” and “Moribund” are timeless, sounding as dark, brooding, and passionate as they were in 1984. The set even includes Misfits classics such as “Die, Die, My Darling,” “Halloween II,” and a retooled version of “Horror Business.” It’s great to see Glenn rip through those songs especially since the only Misfits videos available are difficult to find, poorly recorded bootlegs.

In stark contrast to the current day Danzig, who seems more concerned with his image than his music, the Samhain era one was one who was humorous. During a break between songs he looks to the camera, pointing both his fingers to his crotch and then laughing. During “Archangel,” one of the DVD’s two encores, Glenn grabs a guitar and plays as well (although he rips one of the strings off about 20 seconds into it). At the end he says to the crowd, “Thanks for putting up with that.” This is a much different vibe than the Glenn Danzig of today, whose interviews and appearances always make him appear cocky and arrogant.

While they may not have been the strongest band musically, and had sing-alongs that could make a mother cry with their graphic nature, there is no denying that Samhain helped influence punk, hardcore, and metal as we know it. For those of us who never got to see them live before their demise in 1987 (or their brief reunion during the Danzig Tour during 1999-2000), Live 1984 is a decent substitute, minus the sweat and having people jump on top of you. The quality isn’t perfect, but the sincerity of the performance more than makes up for it.

By Fred Pilarczyk Posted in Features