Every year as Halloween approaches, I begin doing things to put myself in the mood to enjoy that most horrific of holidays; decorate the house with all manner of skulls, queue up a slew of horror DVDs, revisit the literary genius of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and most importantly, scare up some appropriately creepy tunes to celebrate the Season of the Witch. Though I typically pick out entire albums rather than individual songs, I thought it might be fun this year to compile a morbid mixtape to share with you, my loyal THKD readers. So, grab a handful of candy corn and gather ’round the jack-o-lantern, not for ghost stories, but for a night of unspeakable audio terror. Although there were many tracks from a variety of genres that could’ve been worthy of inclusion, I decided to keep things as much on the metal side as possible, in the true spirit of THKD. The player is embedded directly below this paragraph, followed by an explanation of each track. Enjoy or die.
1. Zombi – “Orion”
The best horror movies have killer soundtracks; from The Exorcist‘s use of “Tubular Bells” to John Carpenter’s sinister synth-work for Halloween, to the electronic weirdness Goblin conjured to accompany Dario Argento’s classic Suspiria, the greatest fright films feature music as memorable as the monsters and killers that populate their plotlines. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania duo Zombi make soundtracks to horror films that only exist in your head, and “Orion” from 2004’s Cosmos, with its pulsing bassline and creepy/spacey keys, makes for a perfect intro to THKD’s Samhain soundtrack.
2. Misfits – “Halloween”
I had to do it. The Misfits’ “Halloween” is the most iconic song of the season for punks and metalheads the world over and is just what Dr. Phibes ordered to kick this malevolent mix into high gear. It also features one of my favorite lyrics in all of music: “Brown leaf vertigo / where skeletal life is known.” With just eight words, Glenn Danzig captured the inherent eeriness of Halloween.
3. Ghoul – “Ghoul Hunter”
Surely no Halloween mix can be complete w/o an appearance from everyone’s favorite creepy Creepsylvanians. “Ghoul Hunter,” is a modern day metal version of “The Monster Mash,” but instead of doing the Transylvanian twist, these ghouls mosh to Anthrax and Megadeth.
4.Cradle of Filth – “Death Magick for Adepts”
I’m sure some of you are scoffing at the inclusion of Cradle of Filth. Well, if loving their early albums makes me a false, then I don’t want to entry. “Death Magic for Adepts,” from the Filth’s 2000 album Midian, makes the cut for one very important reason; Doug Bradley. That’s right, none other than Pinhead himself lends his voice to the track for a spoken word outro that’s “blacker than the ace of rapes.”
5. Acid Witch – “Trick or Treat”
The key to a good mix is knowing when to slow things down, and what better band to do that with for a Halloween mix than Acid Witch? “Trick or Treat” is one of the most genuinely unsettling Halloween-related songs I’ve ever heard; the tale of a serial killer who preys on trick or treaters foolish enough to come to his doorstep in search of sweets.
6. Mercyful Fate – “At the Sound of the Demon Bell”
The first of two appearances on this mixtape by His Satanic Majesty King Diamond. On this track from the classic Melissa, the first word out of King’s mouth is “Halloween” sung in his trademark banshee falsetto, from there launching into a tale populated by all manner of demons, devils and evil spirits. Few bands could capture the darkness of Halloween quite like Mercyful Fate.
7. Impaled – “Raise the Stakes”
My Halloween mixtape needs a little gore, or in this case, a shitload of gore. Impaled bring the gruesome lyrics and eviscerating riffs on “Raise the Stakes,” a catchier-than-the-T-Virus chunk of death metal from their 2002 masterpiece Mondo Medicale that’ll have you shouting the chorus in no time. The perfect song to incite a cannibal holocaust.
8. Samhain – “Initium/Samhain”
Part Satanic ritual, part punk rock smash and trash, the opening track from Samhain’s Initium marks the halfway point in this experiment in audio terror. Although Samhain never quite gained the widespread acclaim that vocalist Glenn Danzig’s other two bands achieved, this track proves they were without a doubt the most evil-sounding.
9. Type O Negative – “Wolf Moon”
Hands down my favorite Type O Negative song. I mean c’mon, what’s not to like about this haunting yet ridiculously catchy gothic/doom track about a dude who turns into a werewolf and gets his “red wings?”
10. Hooded Menace – The House of Hammer
As a kid I absolutely loved the various Dracula movies Hammer Studios released, such as The Satanic Rites of Dracula and Taste the Blood of Dracula. These films typically included devil worship and the mighty Christopher Lee terrorizing a bevy of buxom young lasses as the titular blood sucker, only to be staked in the end by Van Helsing (portrayed by the equally great Peter Cushing, whom you may also know as Grand Moff Tarkin). Indeed, my fond childhood memories of of the Count make Hooded Menace’s crushing ode to the legendary Hammer horror factory an absolute must.
11. Necrophagia – Ze Do Caixao
Every October, I’m compelled to watch This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse, the finest installment of Brazilian horror/exploitation director/actor Jose Mojica Marins’ trilogy of films featuring the legendary villain Ze Do Caixao, aka Coffin Joe. Ze is obsessed with finding the perfect woman to bear his child and isn’t afraid to resort to kidnapping and murder in order to carry out his wicked schemes. Necrophagia’s death metal tribute to Coffin Joe is as violent and brutal as the character himself.
12. The Lurking Corpses – Party Time at Zombie High
Who doesn’t love a good Halloween party? The Lurking Corpses, a band that seamlessly mixes horror punk and death metal sure do, as evidenced by this flesh-eating anthem from their 2008 album Smells Like the Dead. “Party Time at Zombie High” sounds like it could’ve been on the soundtrack to Return of the Living Dead along with The Cramps and 45 Grave.
13. Electric Wizard – Dunwich
Electric Wizard’s tribute to one of the most well-known of Lovecraft’s Cthulu Mythos stories is a frightfully catchy doom track that seethes with menace and hints of sixties psychedelia. I can only assume that head wizard Jus Oborn finally consumed enough hallucinogenic drugs to commune with Yog Sothoth and this song is the unholy result.
14. King Diamond – Halloween
As our Halloween mixtape starts to wind down, it’s only fitting that King Diamond, the master of horrific metal, reminds us that every night can be Halloween. Throw in some wicked shredding from Andy La Roque and Michael Denner and you’ve got the makings of some hellish headbanging for Halloween and beyond.
15. SunnO))) – Bathory Erzsebet
Closing out the mix on an appropriately grim note, SunnO))) allegedly locked Xasthur mastermind Malefic inside a casket to record his vocals for this pitch-black ode to “The Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory. Indeed, the atmosphere of “Bathory Erzsebet” is as claustrophobic and suffocating as being buried alive. Requiescat in pace!
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