To go alongside our Halloween feature, "The Horror", SPB presents a list of some staff writers' favorite Halloween-inspired tracks, proving that there's more to bloody, gory music than The Misfits or psychobilly bands. Read on for some chilling song selections.
Ink & Dagger - Cut Throat Tactics
What better way to start your Halloween than a paean to the Graf Orlock inside of all of us? Ink & Dagger was one of the best and most interesting hardcore bands of the '90s, representing bloodsuckers everywhere.
In/Humanity - Let There Never Be Another Song Ever Wrote
Screamy, Gravityan hardcore as spooky, Crowleyan invocation. Such theatrics are frequently goofy in lesser hands, but In/Humanity were masters of delivering a sinerely dark and evil vibe. A lot of black metal bands wish they could conjure up the darkness of the History Behind the Mystery LP.
Today is the Day - Temple of the Morning Star (Acoustic)"/"The Man Who Loves to Hurt Itself
Today is the Day's America is a dark one, populated by cult leaders, skull-cracking cops, two-faced liars, and automatic weapons with clips begging to be emptied. No theatrics here, and all the scarier for it.
To Dream of Autumn - Tribute
Songs of the Dead 2 was a killer comp, and To Dream of Autumn delivered on the horror movie premise better than anybody. They blatantly lift the Halloween theme and sample The Exorcist, but they undergird their cut-and-paste with disjointed, eerie hardcore - and those vocals will ruin you.
The Screamers - I Want to Hurt
One of the best punk bands ever brings you one of the creepiest punk songs ever. The Screamers often had a spooky vibe, but it never came out stronger than on this tune: 8 minutes of slow dirge, with the title recited like a Zen koan. Perfect music for sitting outside your ex's house putting out cigarettes on your arm and sharpening your Bowie knife.
Soft Cell - Sex Dwarf
Go ahead and laugh, but when I was about 10 this song scared the shit out of me. When Marc Almond suggests "we can have playtime/in my little playroom", it's with the same voice of absolute corruption and vice as Weimar Berling (can't you just smell the fascism that lurks behind much synth-pop?). It still gives me the creeps like Twin Peaks.
Men's Recovery Project - All Music is Shit to God (Ed Powers Tribal Remix)
Most Men's Recovery Project songs don't inspire fear, making this more of a notable exception. Spare, subdued bell tones create an eerie ambience for the simple lyric, which is read with the fervent, apocalyptic intensity of an Old Testament jeremiad or a Nazi stump speech. Sandwiched between childish songs about smoking crack and plastic wood, this sticks out like a severed thumb.
X - Riding with Mary
X made a career out of crafting contemporary Americana that was gritty and gut-level, but not scary. This song is, once again, an exception. Written about the death of Exene Cervenka's sister in a car accident, it's all driving, minor-key punk offering a sinister tableau: the car idling at the curb, a knife-scratched arm, and the eponymous Madonna astride the dashboard. For extra harshness, check out the nasty-but-faithful Born Against cover.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - The Carny
This is Cave and company at their best: unrepentantly theatrical, morbid, and mythic. The seemingly cheerful character of the carnival is detourned into a stygian death fable over ethereal xylophones and creaky dirge. Wicked images abound: the carcass of Sorrow washed ashore in the valley, Boss Bellini barking orders through the pistol smoke, dwarves named after prophets. This song lays out the entire blueprint for Carnivàle in eight gripping minutes.
Black Sabbath - Electric Funeral
"Black Sabbath" is a bit more overwrought with horror, but this song packs one of Iommi's most sinister riffs and a gruesome portrait of nuclear annihilation. The title also conveys what Sabbath was all about: modern, post-industrial bombast dedicated to mapping the ageless darkness of existence. Heavy shit, man.
The Swans - Children of God
But Halloween's not all about existential anguish, otherwise for my Swans choice I would've picked "I See Them All Lined Up." Few bands have ever made creepier or more evocative music than Gira, Jarboe, and friends: this track is a pulsating, almost groovy number suggesting transcendence and ruination in equal parts (and isn't that what modern dance music is all about?). Perfect music for mischief-making, fascist rallies, or orgiastic cult rituals.
Fear - Fuck Christmas
And to close, here's LA treasures Fear with a screed against America's favorite holiday. Such partisanship can only carry an implicit affirmation of Halloween, where family togetherness and the consumer dance of gift exchange is traded in for petty vandalism and the literal consumption of liberal doses of candy.
Fantômas - Delìrivm Cordìa
With the exception of last year's Suspended Animation, you could include just about anything in the band's catalogue and it would be more than suitable for you spooky needs. One hour long song or ambient creepiness.
Bohren und der Club of Gore - Black Earth
The greatest soundtrack to the greatest David Lynch movie that's never been made.
The Cramps - Surfin' Dead
The Cramps have always been all about the horror imagery, but this li'l gem from the Return of the Living Dead soundtrack's a classic.
Abruptum - Vi Sonus Veris Nigrae
One hour. One song. One guitar. One midget in corpsepaint screaming in agony. I shit you not.
Naked City - Absinthe
Spookiness abounds in this John Zorn release. The project's only ambient album.
Diamanda Galas - The Litanies of Satan
After all these years, this frigging thing still gives me the willies. I don't give a shit what denomination you were brought up as, this'll have you reaching for that rosary in no time flat. And the fucking thing isn't even in English.
Son of Sam - Into The Hills
Just a damn cool song from the AFI dude.
King Diamond - Abigail
A complete horror story (and a damn well-written one) from start to finish set to music. Poe would be proud. A great stepping-stone for those unfamiliar with the use of dark imagery in music.
Oh christ, pick any album and you're golden. Walk Among Us and November Coming Fire are always good bets.
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Sleepytime (Spirit Is A Bone)
Light some candles, dim the lights and put this one on. Sweet Dreams.
Mortorhead - Nightmare the Dreamtime
A fucking classic. Backward masking at it's finest.
Pain Teens - Stimulation Festival
Imagine a foreign film. Maybe takes place in Eastern Europe. No, not Hostel. But imagine a dimly lit sex club shrouded in filth and smoke, and someone walks in and starts systematically murdering every person in the place with a long, sharp object. This is what's playing in the background.
Trouble - The Tempter
A joyless gloomy brilliant dirge. And they're rocking for Jesus!
Venom - Buried Alive
If it's black and it's metal, it all starts with Venom.
Celtic Frost - Synagoga Satanae
You know that old expression, "They just don't make 'em like they used to?" These guys still do. From their first album in over 15 years, a 13 minute epic saga written in the first person. The "first person" being Satan.
And no mix would be complete without Edgar Allen Poe. There are two great - and i mean GREAT items out there. "Tales of Mystery and Horror" which is 4 of Poe's best as read by Christopher Lee (only on cassette). And "Closed on Account of Rabies" - Poe tales read by the likes of Gabriel Byrne, Iggy Pop and Diamanda Galas. Pure Brilliance.
Sunn0))) - Sin Nanna
I thought it was a creepy way to start.
Samhain - Initium
Again a fitting beginning.
Ink and Dagger - the Road to Hell
A great song from this missed outfit.
Amebix - Largactyl
This is a disturbing song.
Misfits - She
One of my favorites from them. Even though I did not want to overuse this band... there are so many to choose.
Murder City Devils - Idle Hands
Another fitting choice.
Black Sabbath - NIB
Needed to be here even if it isn't an acronym.
Kylesa - In Memory
One of my biggest fears is to lose my mind and or be completely lost.
Cursed - Bloody Mary
Again, I could have chosen a couple by these guys and there's more later.
Sunn0))) - Cursed Realms (of the Winter Demons)
This is another wholly disturbing song by this band or group or whatever. The Black One album could be a great Halloween soundtrack itself.
Harkonen - Cannibal
The subject matter is fitting.
Ringworm - Blind to Faith
An underrated band with a viciously evil song here.
Bloodlet - Stew for the Murder Minded
Another band that has multiple listings here. This song is a bit on the creepy side.
Murder City Devils - Bear Away
The keyboards and vocals make this a great pick for Halloween.
Ink and Dagger - Sweet Relief of Revenge
This is from their lesser known last album. Good stuff.
Amebix - The Axeman
Another wholly creep out..
Samhain - All Murder All Guts All Fun
This is fairly self explanatory.
Deadguy - Die with Your Mask On
Cause I felt like it...this album could be a murderer's soundtrack.
Cathedral - Hopkins Witchfinder General
A goofy track that belongs here.
Khanate - Skin Coat
Morser - 2 Hours to Doom
A quick blast.
Neurosis - Lost
See my comments on the Kylesa track.
Murder City Devils - Bride of the Elephant Man
I love the story of the elephant man Joseph Merrick, even though they say John here. The keyboards make this crucial.
Cathedral- A Funeral Request
A more serious companion to the earlier track.
Misfits - Halloween
A fitting closer.
- Rancid - Maxwell Murder
- NOFX - Last Caress
- Alkaline Trio - Mr. Chainsaw
- The Lawrence Arms - The Corpses of Our Motivations
- The Nerve Agents - Jekyl and Hyde
- Nine Inch Nails - Heresy
- The Lillingtons - Murder on My Mind
- Tiger Army - Under Saturn's Shadow
- AFI - Fall Children
- Paint it Black - Ghosts
- Strung Out - Cemetary
- Circle Takes The Square - Eleven Owls Have Eyes
- At The Drive-In - Invalid Litter Dept.
- Every Time I Die - Floater
- Alexisonfire - The Kennedy Curse
- Murder By Death - Killbot 2000
- Raein - She Wears My Blood
- Transistor Transistor - A Sinking Ship Full of Optimists
- Reversal of Man - Hills Have Eyes
- The Death of Anna Karina - You Are My Cannibal
- Mass Movement of the Moth - Riddle Me 666
- Circle Takes The Square - Interview At The Ruins