"Final Descent" (Evillive/E-magine; 1990)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This recent, re-mastered re-release of the 1990 "Final Descent" is an interesting addition to anyone's Misfits/Samhain/Danzig collection, but it's surprisingly uneven and shoddily produced.

The production, helmed by Glenn Danzig himself, was probably intentional. Samhain's rough-edged sound is a trademark. Regardless, it gives "Final Descent" a sound that's too raw. Sometimes the vocals are almost lost in the mix, other times guitars seem to blur together. And this is on the re-master; I can only wonder what the original sounded like.

Songwise, there's only one true standout tune here: Track #8, "Trouble," with it's George Thorogood-like(!) rhythm and feel and Danzig's jaunty chorus, "Because I'm evil!" The balance of the songs - while above the level of filler - just don't impress.

As far as history goes, I'll take an earlier Misfits or Samhain CD, or a later Danzig CD, over "Final Descent." And, again, be aware that this CD runs only 30:00 minutes with nine tracks.

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"November Coming Fire" (Evillive/E-magine; 1986)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"November Coming Fire" is better produced than the other Samhain albums, but it boasts about the same amount of atmosphere. The songs range from sounding a lot like early Misfits ("Let the Day Begin") to closer to the modern Danzig style ("Kiss of Steel") to the just downright bizarre ("Halloween II").

Still, even with its better production and recent re-mastering, "November Coming Fire" is pretty murky. The CD still sounds as though it's being played through a wall of mud, just not as much mud as its earlier incarnation.

Nonetheless, It's easy to see why so many bands claim Samhain as an influence considering the band's eerie songwriting style and diabolic aura. What's not so easy is to understand why the band still has a following large enough to generate a huge-selling box set and the individual re-release of each of the CDs contained therein.

Samhain: Glenn Danzig; Eerie Von; Damien; London May.

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"Unholy Passion" (Evillive/E-magine; 1985)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Unholy Passion," starts off with a couple of okay tracks, the strangely syncopated title track and "All Hell." Both songs are typically Samhain raw and Samhain bizarre; the kind of stuff we heard on their previous release, "Initium."

By track 3 ("Moribund"), however, that uniqueness has already begun to wear off its welcome. "The Hungry End," track 4, starts out with a promising guitar riff and has some decent punk chord guitar in its middle but the song's vocal line is disjointed and distracting. The next track, "Misery Tomb," sounds like a musical version of the Harvey Keitel film, "Bad Lieutenant." (I know only people who have seen that film will understand what I mean here but, believe me, that's the best description of that track). The CD's final track ("I Am Misery") is a step back in the right direction but - after the lackluster performance of the previous tracks, it's too little too late.

With a running time of only 17:27 and only six tracks, "Unholy Passion" is just an E.P. and, thankfully, it's priced as one. Unfortunately, all told, it's just a little of not much and can easily be skipped over by those who don't have to have every Samhain CD in their collection.

Cool cover art though - no?

"Initium" (Evillive/E-magine; 1984)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

With Samhain, the Misfits and Danzig, Glenn Danzig and horror have always seemed to go hand-in-hand. This new, re-mastered release of the band's "Initium" CD is further proof of Danzig and crew's "horror punk" brilliance.

E-magine Entertainment has released "Initium" and three other CDs in newly re-mastered versions which also contain additional artwork. This follows the recent success of the Samhain box set that has sold over 25,000 copies to date. However, this is the first time these individual CDs have been available separately.

"Raw" is the best word to describe "Initium." Obviously produced on a shoe-string budget, "Initium" is about as rough-edged as it comes. Buzzing guitars and Danzig's trademark howling vocals fill these ten tracks, including "All Murder, All Guts, All Fun," "He-Who-Can-Not-Be-Named" and (appropriately) "The Howl." The tunes aren't traditional punk (but, then, what is?) but instead are a bizarre combination of Misfits and the Dead Boys.

Glenn Danzig fans should love these beautifully remastered CDs. Despite the source material's limited production quality, the new releases sound pretty damn good. Be warned, however; like the Ramones, Samhain manage to put ten songs on a CD with a running time of only 29 minutes.

SAMHAIN is: Glenn Danzig - vocals; guitars; Eerie Von - bass; Steve Zing - drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.