Halloween is finally upon us, and that means it’s time for some spooky music to fit the mood. It can be hard picking out the right music for the occasion, but we here at It Djents have you covered! We’ve curated a list of albums that you should definitely dig into on this most hallowed of nights. So turn off the lights, get that cheap Halloween candy, and pop on these records to make your night complete!
Fântomas: Delìrivm Còrdia
What’s so spooky about Fântomas‘ Delìrivm Còrdia? Let me answer that with a counter question: what’s so scary about having surgery performed on you without anaesthetics? Yeah, because that’s exactly what this album strives to be a score to. Eerie sounds and voices are presented in an unsettling mix of avant-garde-leaning musical styles like drone or noise music and more easy-listening elements. Nobody but Mike Patton could have come up with something like this, really; his mind has, over the course of the past two-and-a half decades, proven to be quite the weird place.
Nowhere has the creepy side of it shone as disgustingly, frighteningly bright as here, though. A horror movie for the inner eye par excellence, this album seems to take pleasure in scaring the ever-loving daylight right out of the unwitting listener. As long as they have a vivid imagination, that is. I’m shuddering just thinking about it.
Iron Maiden: Dance of Death
The existence of Iron Maiden‘s mascot, Eddie, along with their immense catalogue of uniquely macabre album covers would be enough to get them onto the list, but Dance of Death goes one step further by having the title track based on Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and the horror imagery associated with it. If this overt post mortem jig isn’t enough though, there are a handful of other stories sprinkled throughout that might itch that fancy (such as the ritual inspired “Rainmaker” and the historial “Montségur”), along with all the war horrors you could want from the band. It’s the titular track here that’s the star of the show though, easing you in with folklore stylings and Dickinson’s vocals introducing us into this supernatural story before the guitars lead us into the second and more traditional half. So on this hallowed of eve’s, don’t fear the dark, just take death’s hand and dance.
GosT: Non Paradisi
This album is as Halloween as The Exorcist. Non Paradisi is loosely based on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, a tale of Lucifer’s fall from Heaven and rise to power as ruler of Hell. It’s hard to miss the heavy, demonic tones within this album. They’re woven within each meaty synth pulse and drum pound. Songs crack through your speakers like vengeful lightning on a dark night, or slither between your ears like a malevolent serpent. The handful of haunting, moody vocal guests on this album are anything but wasted space, but the true star of the show is always GosT‘s apocalyptic orchestration of synths, organs, drums and horns. This album will make you believe in Hell.
Storm Corrosion: Storm Corrosion
When asked for creepy, Halloween-esque music, Storm Corrosion came immediately to mind. Like anything that builds an unsettling atmosphere, this collaboration between masters of prog Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, solo) and Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth, Bloodbath) has a notable attention to dynamics and narrative. This is showcased no better than on the record’s first single, “Drag Ropes”, and is perfectly complemented by its bleak music video. Developing slowly over the course of nearly ten minutes, there is a dread and hopelessness here that is accomplished through almost solely acoustic instruments. In its tone if not its instrumentation, the album is heavier than some of these artists’ more metal projects – there is a darkness, unease and morbidity that is almost inescapable in this track. However, like any good suspense or horror film, this album has its share of light moments to give its darkness an even more striking contrast and impact.
Regardless of your particular approach to the Halloween festivities, one clear theme always prevails: costume. If we take this mentality and contrive to explore how it can tie in with music, a finite roster of artists comes to mind, and few would dispute that Polish death-metallers Behemoth have been consistently topping this list for what now seems like an eternity. Unquestionable veterans within the sphere of extreme metal, this outfit have now been boasting their unique, elaborate brand of pseudo-satanism since 1999’s aptly titled Satanica, and arguably found their prime in 2009 through the fantastic Evangelion. Whilst I wouldn’t necessarily try to label this record as some kind of scare-fest, it certainly does contain a generous helping of the fare we’ve come to expect from Behemoth; ritualistic themes aplenty, an eerie, religiously-charged atmosphere, and of course flat-out, merciless brutality. Having said this, it hardly requires an explanation as to why this band are essentially tailor-made for Halloween; over the years we’ve come to expect a certain palette from Behemoth, and in my opinion Evangelion is simply the pick of the bunch.
Anaal Nathrakh: The Whole Of The Law
There are various conceivable musical characteristics that one could consider to be in accordance with traditional Halloween thematics; elaborate stage-wear, eerie voice samples, and violent subject matter, just to name a few. However, in a given attempt at finding an artist that amalgamates the vast majority of these things in one not-so-neat little package, UK-based extreme metal outfit Anaal Nathrakh are surely the top contenders. Despite an eleven-album-strong discography, the band’s latest effort The Whole Of The Law is a more than apt expression of this, and was actually unhanded (perhaps coincidentally) in the midst of last year’s Halloween period. For those unfamiliar, the most suitable way to describe this band’s approach is utter unbridled chaos, although a self-proclamation as “The soundtrack to Armageddon” just about does the trick in itself. In general, the link to Halloween here is fairly self explanatory: from the frenzied harsh vocals, to the circa.250 BPM grindcore-esque sections, to the necromantic lyricism, the horror vibe is certainly palpable. So there you have it, another record that wouldn’t be out of place on any Halloween playlist, and in addition it seems that your plans for the night are now clearer than ever: whack this album on, and let chaos ensue.
Pig Destroyer: Prowler In The Yard
Of all the albums on this list, Pig Destroyer’s 2001 sophomore album Prowler In The Yard is the only one that can induce terror without being played. Just read the song titles out loud at a Halloween party to get the desired effect: “Cheerleader Corpses,” “Intimate Slavery,” “Sheet Metal Girl,” “Murder Blossom,” “Snuff Film at Eleven”; get the picture yet? Far too simplistic would it be to describe Prowler In The Yard as a concept album about a teenaged boy being obsessed about a girl with whom he had a brief fling; and the psychotic, drug-imbued cycle of violence and self-destruction that follows from it. The whole effect is like listening to everything wrong with the Western male psyche laid bare, and hearing every torturous scream as it burns. The unpitiable conflagration of the soul has a most fitting soundtrack.
Pig Destroyer composed one of grindcore’s few masterpieces with this album. Not since Napalm Death made From Enslavement to Obliteration in 1988 had the genre achieved such artistic heights. You will hear bizarre sexual innuendos read in a computerized monotone, creepy late night phone calls, and riffs; lots and lots of riffs played fast, played angry, played over blast beats. And you will know the terror that dwells behind even the quietest suburban walls.
Drop Dead, Gorgeous: Worse than a Fairy Tale
The mountain town of Saylor Lake, Colorado is plagued by twelve murders in a year’s time. None of them have a binding theme or M.O., and all the cases run cold. After hysteria ensues, the once-inviting homestead becomes a ghost town as the residents flee from fear.
While this may sound like a great plot for a great slasher/thriller flick, this is the story of post-hardcore band Drop Dead, Gorgeous’ 2007 concept album Worse than a Fairy Tale. Each of the twelve tracks tells the story of one of the murders, and together they paint a terrifying story of the town of Saylor Lake from all perspectives: from the eyes of the victims, the citizens, and the killer. Growing out of the ‘mallcore’ phase of the band’s previous releases, the breakdowns are intentionally placed, the screams are less harsh and the keyboard drives melodic sequences.
Part of the truly scary magic of this album has been lost with time – the interactive website showing the ‘case files’ of each victim was removed about five years ago, and the digital versions of the album are missing the ghost tracks. However, the video clues still live and are still just as creepy.
If you’re looking to get into the mind of a serial killer this Halloween, this is an album to check out.
Iced Earth: Horror Show
Horror Show is basically a monster movie anthology in music form. Each song covers a character or theme from popular horror stories or legends like Dracula, Jack the Ripper and The Omen. This concept goes hand-in-hand with Iced Earth‘s heavy and power metal vibes from their early aughts era. Each song has an epic, larger-than-life feel which is fitting considering the subjects of each song. Lyrics are often lifted right from the source material stories or scripts which gives horror fans something to sink their fangs into. The music is heavy, shreddy and best played at a loud volume, as nearly all Iced Earth is. Aesthetics are added for neat effect, such as subtle Egyptian melodies on “Im-Ho-Tep”. Cap all of this off with a relevant Iron Maiden cover of “Transylvania” and an original ballad written by then-frontman Matt Barlow called “Ghost of Freedom” and you have one of the most impressive Iced Earth albums to date. Needless to say, this is a must-listen for fans of metal and horror.
Take a guitarist and a bass player who knocked around the Birmingham underground scene for a few years (one of whom had spent a bit of time in Napalm Death). Add a drum machine, some respect for The Swans and early hip-hop, and you will have Godflesh. The year was 1989. We had reached “peek hair metal,” with heavier and more real fare finally rising. Amidst the thrash and death, the more “hip” among the metal cognoscenti knew of something different brewing in the UK; grindcore and industrial metal. It is perhaps fitting that Godflesh singer/guitarist Justin Broadrick had his start in Napalm Death as grindcore and industrial metal represented the complete destruction of musicality, the march of anti-melody, aural art as violence. This filled the function of deathcore before most deathcore musicians had even been born.
Godflesh’s debut album Streetcleaner is a soundscape of staggering relentless rhythms, de-tuned shock guitars, ultra-muddy bass, and a nearly inhuman voice made mechanical. The album captures those ‘I’m on the verge of choking someone’ situations we all know too well: being stuck in traffic, hearing that a co-worker left you with a disaster to fix, waiting for someone ahead of you at the check-out counter to stop arguing with the clerk; that sort of thing. Streetcleaner stands as a timeless classic, brutal even by today’s standards.
Exhumed: Death Revenge
American deathgrind outfit Exhumed have honed their vicious and ferocious style for the 27 years, and with this year’s release of Death Revenge, they have may have topped themselves. This is a concept album of sorts, focusing on the grave-robbing and death-profiteering duo of Burke & Hare. Opening with a most obvious John Carpenter tribute, the album will grab you by the throat and drag you kicking and screaming into the night, metaphorically. With a satchel full of tasty riffs, goregrind squeals, and death growls, this is a near perfect Halloween record for any fan of this style of music. The breakneck pace of the songs is neatly broken up by several dreary interludes that ensure you remember that you are in the middle of a macabre tale where death is a commodity to be bought and sold. Some real standouts on the album are the lead single, “Night Work” where the riffs bow at the altar of Slayer, and the seven-and-a-half-minute instrumental piece,” The Anatomy Act of 1832.” Death Revenge is a pedal to the floor horror-fest that will splatter you with delight and do so with a knowing wink.
Misfits: Walk Among Us
No list of Halloween themed music would be complete without an offering from horror punk legends, The Misfits. Their 1982 debut album Walk Among Us is guaranteed to get you in a ghoulish mood. The band’s open obsession with 50’s sci-fi and horror is apparent in the cover art alone, which is a collage of images taken from 1950’s horror films (I’ll never forget being terrified of that “rat-bat-spider” from The Angry Red Planet when I was a kid). As far as content goes, all facets of horror are covered in this 13 track record. Song titles like: “All Hell Breaks Loose”, “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight”, “Devil’s Whorehouse”, and “Astro Zombies” aptly represent the lyrical content within. Subtext of social and political metaphors aside, some of Glenn Danzig’s lyrics -when taken at face value- are pretty disturbing; giving some of the most “brutal” of modern metal bands a run for their money. So when it comes to all things that go bump in the night, The Misfits have got you covered.
Maudlin Of The Well: Leaving Your Body Map
Before there was Kayo Dot, multi-instrumentalist avant-garde maestro Toby Driver had Maudlin of the Well. Never one to do things small, MOTW released Bath and Leaving Your Body Map as companion albums in 2001. Depending on who got asked the question and when, the album was either composed through astral projection, through lucid dreaming, or both. No matter. Maudlin of the Well combined death metal, jazz, ambient music, and a plethora of other styles to create something organic yet twisted; warm yet distant, crushing yet compelling. It show’s Driver’s penchant for combining jazz instrumentation with a metallic underbelly, layering timbres upon timbres to create a sound wholly unique.
Some of the songs on Leaving Your Body Map might seem too laid-back, too melodic, or too dreamy for Halloween. It has to be listened to from end-to-end for the full effect to be felt, for the nursery rhyme vocals in the lighter songs to sound creepy, for the tension to be felt in anticipation of the monstrous stomping that is sure to follow. For every lazy “Interlude 3” or “Sleep Is a Curse,” there is a “Riseth He, The Numberless” (in fact the album has two songs with this title, the second of which starts with the sounds of pained screams in the rain) and “The Curve That to an Angle Turn’d.” The whole effect is like having a confusing, yet pleasant dream interrupted by subconscious violence.
And with that, our Halloween special comes to a close! We hope you’ve enjoyed the (perhaps not so) spooky ride over this last week, reminiscing and exploring new themed music. Let us know in the comments what you think of seasonal content like this – if you enjoy it and would like to see more of it. So thank you from everybody here, and have a great and haunted filled night!