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Early death-ish metal, but little more - 63%

robotiq, December 22nd, 2019

I am fascinated by the early history of death metal. Everyone knows about Possessed and Death, but there were lesser known bands in dark corners of the metal universe, each exploring extremity in their own way. Samhain (from Denmark) were one of those bands, releasing this demo under that moniker before changing their name and continuing as DesExult.

Whether or not the music on this demo is 'death metal' is debatable, but it still represents some of the crudest and most barbarous music of the time. The obvious reference point is Hellhammer, "Prince of Evil" has some Tom G Warrior-style 'uuughs' and "Salvation" is similar to "Triumph of Death". That said, this is faster and more chaotic than Hellhammer, and the drumming is more varied and less punk-ish. There are a few splashes of Motorhead, Discharge, and Bullzdozer here and there. This is not really thrash because it has none of the precision of records like "Endless Pain" or "Feel the Fire". The riffs are blunt, fuzzy and chaotic and the soloing is cacophonous. The overall production is garagey, but bass-heavy enough to give the music the edge it needs.

I don't listen to this demo often, it is not particularly good. There were better bands in 1985 doing similar things (e.g., Master, Death, Death Strike). Still, Samhain (and DesExult) were part of this early death metal picture and cannot be ignored. Those interested in early death metal should listen to this demo at least once.

Harvesting early death metal on a lost plantation - 72%

Gutterscream, September 16th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1985, Cassette, Independent

Not to be confused with the more known Danzig-associated Samhain which nabbed the moniker somewhere close to the same time or the dozen or so others that now share the name, it’d be 1985 when two separate four-piece acts would record demos under this handle, then within a year eventually drop it for something more original.

It’s the Danish Samhain we’ve stopped to gawk at here, the one and same to dock groove space on the 1986 New Renaissance compilation Speed Metal Hell Vol. II with this three-songer’s opener, “Plague of Messiah”. Now, what’s special about this particular Samhain is its early precognition and use of death metal elements, most notably the vocals, which fall into chronological step with Possessed’s Seven Churches and Sepultura’s Bestial Devastation split while actually predating both by a few months. However, what’s not too special about The Courier is its conventionality despite performing a style that at this point is still teething on morbid tales spun by a Hellhammered Celtic Frost.

“Plague of Messiah”, after a briefly bell-rung and Lord Humungus-growled intro, slams slow-to-moderate and fast gears to and fro with practiced expertise that borders on formula, meanwhile vocalist Hund heaves forth his best hoarse, deathgnarly pipes that go on to exacerbate the better “Prince of Evil”. “Salvation” (technically featured on another next-year New Renaissance v/a Thrash Metal Attack, though credited to DesExult, the band they will soon cocoon into) follows the opener’s route of speed-shifted mania that, once identified, becomes rather predictable. Its not-so-hot production muddles things rhythmically, yet is ineffective in crumbling the vocal delivery which is more or less the demo’s high point, just ahead of its cool dead-punch drum sound.

It’s downright dopily optimistic to expect some accolades to shift toward these guys, but this Lone Ranger of a demo, even if it were a breathtaking event, likely won’t cut loose what’s already attached to the aforementioned slabs. But the quartet will be heard from again soon enough, in the guise of DesExult and with a sound that basically mirrors what’cha got here.

Oh yeah, that other ’85 band = Germany’s Deathrow.