One of the funnest holidays of all time is right around the corner, but Halloween isn’t all about creepy costumes and sugary candy. Sometimes, there is a hidden side to Halloween that is even scarier than a haunted house. In honour of Halloween, here is some spooky music for the skeleton inside of you…
10. Ghost: Opus Eponymous (2010)
Grammis award winning act Ghost churns out a blend of eerie metallic slop in the vein of Mercyful Fate, but is also influenced by a touch of gothic flare.
The band is comprised of cloaked, hooded, and masked musicians known as Nameless Ghouls led by the enigmatic anti-pope and master of (Satanic) ceremonies, Papa Emeritus II.
“Opus Eponymous” is the band’s debut album featuring the single, “Elizabeth,” a chilling elegy about Elizabeth Báthory, a Hungarian countess who allegedly tortured and murdered over 600 virgin farm girls throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.
Ghost has many thematically appropriate songs for the darker side of Halloween, if you’re up to the challenge.
9. Candlemass: Nightfall (1987)
Candlemass is a Swedish metal band that no doubt took great inspiration from the likes of Black Sabbath, Pagan Altar, and Witchfinder General.
“Nightfall” is one of the crowning achievements of the genre known as doom metal, a style characterised by downtuned guitars squealing out a thick, heavy hum, like slow bursting bubbles in an iron cauldron.
This album is October immortalised as music, symbolising the mystic and macabre spirit of Halloween.
The seventh song on the album, “Dark Are the Veils of Death,” is a mournful descant worthy of your own lamentation, for no matter how beautiful and strong you are now, one of these days you will turn frail and weak, and die… so, enjoy those sugary sweets while you still can, eh?
Candlemass’s music video for “Bewitched” is one of the most ridiculous heavy metal videos ever produced. It’s so bad, it’s good, like melted chocolate.
8. King Diamond: Abigail (1987)
This album is arguably the best on this list in terms of pure musicality.
Andy LaRocque’s neo-classical shredding and King Diamond’s shrill, yet operatic arias soar over crunchy riffs and bombastic drums. The lyrics tell a story about a stillborn girl named Abigail that haunts a mansion inherited by the young couple Jonathan la Fey and Miriam Natias.
They do not heed the warnings that seven horsemen give to them, who are the caretakers of the lands surrounding the mansion.
Soon after settling inside the haunted house, Jonathan comes face to face with his ancestral spirit, Count de la Fey, who to leads him underneath the mansion to a crypt where Abigail is bound inside a sarcophagus nailed shut with seven silver spikes.
The old ghost warns of an omen if he and Miriam is to stay. Ultimately, the ghost of Abigail begins tormenting and possessing Miriam.
The only way to exorcise the evil spirit from Miriam is to kill her in the same way Abigail’s mother died, to be thrown down a flight of stairs, snapping her neck… or is there another, more insidious way?
7. Opeth: Ghost Reveries (2005)
Opeth is from Stockholm, Sweden. They are one of the most influential metal bands in recent memory, having sold over a million records and taking part in major festivals like Bloodstock, as well as headlining their own tours around the world.
Blending inspiration from the Swedish death metal scene of the early 90s pioneered by Dismember, Entombed, and Unleashed, Opeth mixes brutally heavy riffs and blast-beat double-pedal drumming with irregular time signatures, psychedelic atmosphere, and jazz-influenced virtuoso from 1970s progressive rock.
In interviews, front-man Mikael Åkerfeldt has often expressed his love for old prog-rock bands like Camel and Yes.
Ghost Reveries is a testament to the fusion of death metal and progressive rock, all the while draping a dark shroud over the listener as the album tells a tale of hauntings and the occult.
6. Iced Earth: Horror Show (2001)
Taking lyrical inspiration from horror is a time-honoured craft in heavy metal
Iced Earth takes it a step further by devoting an entire album to the classics of the genre, including Dracula, Creature of the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, and The Wolf Man.
“Damien,” the second track on the album, is an epic 9 minute tribute to the son of Satan himself from the film “The Omen.” For good measure, a cover of Iron Maiden’s face-melting instrumental “Transylvania” is thrown in later on the album.
Iced Earth’s aural prowess featuring the chugging gallopings of riff monster Jon Schaffer is complemented by the banshee’d wails of Matt Barlow, creating a blood-chilling opus for the discerning metal listener to blare on a Halloween night.
5. Helloween: Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I (1987)
Let’s take a quick break from gloom and doom, shall we? German band Helloween are pioneers of power metal, a genre which is all about lighthearted fun, speedy guitar solos, epic keyboards, and vocals that float higher than helium balloons.
If you feel like slaying a dragon, questing for treasure, or exploring deep caverns under an enchanted forest, Helloween is your band. Even better, play this album at your Halloween party while dressed up like a wizard, a squire boy, or even a goblin; chicks dig goblins.
The rare music video for, “Halloween” is sure to leave a goofy smile on your face as you revel in the juvenile side of Halloween.
4. Slayer: Hell Awaits (1985)
…And now we return to black magick, darkness, death, evil, murder, and Satan!
With its album cover depicting the horrors of Hell as men are torn apart by demons, not to mention its opening track spits out garbled and twisted messages growling “Join us,” Slayer was probably public enemy #1 for many soccer moms in the 80s.
Even the most casual listeners of metal are familiar with Slayer’s seminal thrash classic “Reign in Blood,” but it is “Hell Awaits” that exhibits an evil worthy of being an excellent album to bang your head to on a Halloween night, especially when a triumphant harvest moon hangs high in the darkened sky, while shadows leer in all around you. Cheesy? Oh yes, that’s what this album is all about.
3. Mayhem: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)
Slayer may be putting on a show to entertain us by being edgy and using extreme imagery to shock audiences like Alice Cooper did, but Mayhem is no gimmick and was once pure evil in its most carnal and uncontrolled form.
Hailing from Norway, Mayhem was at the centre of the early Norwegian black metal scene with its founding member Euronymous leading an inner circle of left-hand path satanists from a record store he owned in Oslo called Helvete.
Emperor, a legendary black metal band in its own right was known to be members, including the infamous Count Grishnackh, better known as Varg Vikernes.
Suicide and murder soon tore the band apart. Vocalist Dead, known as the first black metal musician to adorn himself in corpse paint, killed himself by slashing his wrists and inflicting a shotgun blast to his own head.
Controversially, a photograph of his fresh corpse taken by band members would be featured on one of Mayhem’s later albums.
After Dead’s suicide, Varg Vikernes murdered Euronymous over a dispute and was imprisoned for over 20 years.
“De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” captures all three musicians alongside legendary drummer Hellhammer in a bleak and twisted perversion of metal, taken to extreme depths of human depravity, becoming one of the most terrifying albums in all of black metal.
If you choose this album as the soundtrack to your Halloween, you must be wicked underground. So underground in fact, that I cannot, in good conscience, link to any of Mayhem’s material.
2. Type O Negative: Bloody Kisses (1993)
Type O Negative is a fun band to listen to. Mixing heavy metal and Gothic rock is an uneasy relationship and a marriage between the two is even more rocky.
Frankly, most bands that choose to incorporate influences of goth wind up playing overblown and pretentious tripe that is too deep even for a San Francisco art graduate.
Some of this is true for Type O Negative, but the band is painfully self-aware of this fact and deflects it with humour often breaking the fourth wall and playing practical jokes on the listener, making them painfully self-aware as well.This satire can even leave the listener questioning the credibility pop culture as a whole.
However, Type O Negative often melds the two distinct genres of heavy metal and goth as well as Opeth mixes death metal and prog.
Taking influence from The Beatles and Black Sabbath while throwing it against The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim creates Type O Negative’s sound.
“Bloody Kisses” is an immense album filled with all kinds of shenanigans, including pop culture references, religious parody, and political satire. As such, the tone and feel of this album is intrinsically Halloween thanks to its Gothic roots.
1. Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath (1970)
Black Sabbath needs no introduction.
This album is over 40 years old, yet continues to be the epitome of what it means to create dark music.
Who would have known that Tony Iommi’s use of an distorted and overdriven augmented fourth chord (better known as a tritone) on the title track would create and influence an entirely new genre of music, which would further split into more and more genres and all could trace its influence to Black Sabbath directly.
Everything about this album is unsettling. From its cover depicting a sickly figure in black, to the title track’s opening church bells, to the nightmarish lyrics, there was nothing else like Black Sabbath at the time, perhaps excepting Atomic Rooster’s “Death Walks Behind You,” but sadly that band has lost relevance in this day and age.
This album is the quintessential Halloween album and is most likely the default choice… unless you’re that person who puts Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on repeat all night.
Which album do you think is the best suited as a soundtrack for masquerading in the night? Cast your vote for the best metal album for Halloween here!