“Halloween” is a contraction (first used in the 16th century by the Scots) of “All Hallow’s Evening”. It’s the night before a Christian feast day (Nov 1) known as All Hallows or All Saints. How a Christian tradition got wrapped up in ghouls and goblins and spirits of the dead is a long story. But at least a big part of the story is that, like many Christian holidays, this one was intertwined with (and piggy-backed on) a far older pagan celebration known as Samhain (pronounced sah-win or sow-in).
“Samhain” comes from the Old Irish word for “summer’s end”, and in the medieval Gaelic calendar it marked the end of the harvest season and the coming of winter. According to The Font of All Human Knowledge, “In much of the Gaelic world, bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them. Some of these rituals hint that they may once have involved human sacrifice.” It was “seen as a time when the ‘door’ to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as fairies, to come into our world.”
There’s a metric fuckton of metal that would be appropriate to play in commemoration of Samhain tonight, but I thought I’d go with some quite diverse black metal that I heard for the first time over the last 24 hours. The bands are Satanic BloodSpraying (Bolivia), Vomitchapel (U.S.), and Profound Lore’s latest signing, A.M.S.G. (Canada), and this post includes two EP reviews, so settle in.
I’ve not been able to find much information about this Bolivian band beyond the fact that Hells Headbangers released their debut album At the Mercy of Satan in July of this year. It’s an 8-song, 24-minute barrage of vicious, swarming riffs, relentless drumbeats, and vocal blood spray. The music is mangling but also imminently headbang-worthy.