CONCERT REVIEW: Last date of Samhain 30-year reunion tour was a bloody good holiday
What better night to see Samhain than on the pagan holiday the band is named after?
Samhain was joined by Goatwhore, Midnight, and YDi at the Best Buy Theater in Manhattan, New York on Nov. 1 as part of the “30 Bloody Years” reunion tour that began in September. Here’s a breakdown of each band and the brutality they brought to the night.
YDi: YDi, with whom we were unfamiliar prior to this show, are a Philadelphia hardcore punk band. They formed in the early ‘80s and were at the forefront of the development of the genre and future, more extreme strains. They often draw favorable comparisons to Negative Approach, which we can agree with; however, YDi (pronounced “Why Die?”) are more aggressive, pissed off, and experimental in both their arrangements and guitar sound/effects.
The whole band played solidly with vocalist Panther really bringing an incredible amount of energy. He wailed his woes from end to end of the stage, frequently throwing himself to his knees, stomach, back, etc., rolling about on the floor. We’re not sure how we’ve never heard of these guys before, but we can tell you that we’re fans now!
YDi quote of the night: (from Panther, vocals) “Aaarrrgh!”
Midnight: One of this reviewer’s favorite bands to emerge in the last 10 years, Midnight play a potent mix of rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal best described as Venom meets Motörhead in their respective heydays, with all the attitude, noise, and grime associated with both. Wondering how one stage could contain the fury of Venom and Motörhead at one time? The answer is that it cannot.
Midnight consistently put on intense live shows, with frontman Athenar often breaking equipment at the end of their sets. This performance was no exception. We’ve seen them three times now (including once where Athenar attempted to swing from the rafters), and each time they’ve exceeded our expectations. Midnight has two LPs to their name and a legion of splits and EPs. Their set was solid and included “Evil Like a Knife,” “Prowling Leather,” “Endless Slut,” “Black Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Lust, Filth and Sleaze,” “You Can’t Stop Steel,” and “Satanic Royalty.” We highly recommend catching this band live!
Midnight quote of the night: (from Athenar, bass and vocals) “Best Buy Theater? I remember when I used to steal CDs from that place. Now I just steal riffs.”
Goatwhore: Another one of this reviewer’s newer favorite bands (yes, I have many), we’ve seen Goatwhore at least six times now, and they are also consistent with high-energy shows. Frontman Ben Falgoust (also of Soilent Green) is excellent at rallying the crowd to move around. Their guitarist and main creative force, Sammy Pierre Duet, was also in Acid Bath, who are easily in my top five bands of all time.
On a personal note, Goatwhore was also the first heavy metal band I ever saw live, so they hold a special place in my heart. Readers in NEPA may understand why seeing any heavy metal shows at all in the area is difficult and seldom at best now, not to mention 10 or 11 years ago.
All that nostalgia aside, Goatwhore deserve much higher praise for their music and live performance. They tour constantly and have it down to a science. They play an interesting and catchy blend of blackened thrash metal with death and speed metal riffs thrown in for good measure. Their lyrics have always been a strong point and are rather poetic and intelligent, but also tough-as-nails. Because of their many influences, love and mastery of the riff, and fuck-you-I’m-going-to-sound-how-I-want attitude, we can almost call them the American Darkthrone (if they pulled out more punk/hardcore influences and had more unique production, they’d win the title).
Their demo and first album are more influenced by Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, mixed with the frostiness and rawness of the infamous second wave of Norwegian black metal. As their albums progressed, Goatwhore upped the thrash metal elements and added some death metal ones as well, sounding like they fell out of the ‘80s when the genres were not yet differentiated.
What does all that mean? It means Goatwhore pummel crowds with loud and vicious guitar licks that are mostly super-fast with expertly crafted tempo and style changes to keep people moving and breathless. This set consisted of newer material, including “Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed,” “Embodiment of this Bitter Chaos,” “Baring for Revolt,” and “Apocalyptic Havoc.” See them and experience why they command the legions of hell!
Goatwhore quote of the night: (from Ben Falgoust, vocals) “Pump your fists in the air like it’s a Judas Priest show in 1984!”
Samhain: Named for the pagan Celtic ritual whose traditions live on to some degree as modern-day Halloween, this was the band formed by Glenn Danzig as he transitioned out of seminal and influential horror-themed punk outfit the Misfits and into his solo project. Samhain was darker, heavier, and more experimental than the Misfits or Danzig’s solo work, and they’ve earned a legendary status in the metal/punk underground. This brief six-date tour, kicked off just after Riot Fest in Chicago, was to commemorate 30 years of Samhain, as their debut album “Initium” was released in 1984. The band was short-lived in its original existence, so this was quite a rare show. We were especially privileged to see the last day of the tour, which also happened to be on Samhain Day, Nov. 1, as it was traditionally celebrated. Samhain played their entire “Initium” album front-to-back and were, of course, covered in blood throughout the show. The set also included “Unholy Passion,” “All Hell,” “Kiss of Steel,” “November’s Fire,” “Halloween II,” and “Mother of Mercy.”
Samhain quote of the night: (from Glenn Danzig, vocals) “Elvis never put on this much blood for you!”
This was a fantastic show all around, and what a killer lineup – these are all high-energy bands with rabid fanbases. Samhain has wide appeal due to Danzig’s many projects/incarnations over the years, so the crowd was quite diversified, which is always a plus in our book. Sound was good up front near the stage, but some people claimed the sound was fuzzy in the rear, which is typical of shows at the Best Buy Theater. There were only 15 minute waits between sets, which was appreciated, except for Samhain, for whom we, justifiably, waited about 35 minutes. Many thanks to the stage crew(s)!
Photo of Glenn Danzig at Riot Fest by Randy Blythe
by Sam Shockey
Sam Shockey is an avid music lover whose interests span multiple genres and centuries. He also enjoys literature and films, especially of the fantasy, science fiction, and horror varieties.