I suggest pouring yourself a glass of Absinthe, dimming the lights, lighting a few candles and drawing the blinds. The next ten albums are my go-to spooky albums for this fall season. Some are classic horror punk, some are classic Goth rock, and some are down-right evil. Make sure the kids are tucked in before spinning these albums…
Marilyn Manson – Portrait of an American Family
The debut Marilyn Manson record showed Manson and his band (aptly titled “The Spooky Kids”) figuring out what the hell they were. Starting with a monologue from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory that slowly distorts and grows in volume, while a group chant of “faster, faster” is shouted behind it, showcases the feeling of unease and fear that this album can immediately inject. Although his follow up album Anti-Christ Superstar is his masterpiece, Portrait of an American Family makes your skin crawl like no other Manson album. The album is scattered with references to Allister Crowley (infamous occultist), Charles Manson, and even court appearance audio clips, Portrait will make your skin crawl but also make you bang your head.
Depeche Mode – Violator
Dark and brooding and full of that late 80s synth, Violator could be the soundtrack to an ecstasy induced rave, or the soundtrack to a man renouncing his faith in a religion. Walking the line between club beats with dark lyrical content and slow brooding, atmospheric electronica, there is something about Violator that makes it sound so sinister, yet welcoming. “Personal Jesus” (Covered by aforementioned Marilyn Manson and also Johnny Cash) is the prime example of anti-religion sentiment on top of an infections instrumental. Lines like “I don’t claim to know / where my holiness goes / I just know that I like / what is starting to show” from the song “Clean”, Violator will keep you questioning and violating your conscious.
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
You don’t think I could make a spooky and creepy album list and not include The Prince of Darkness could you? Paranoid is heavy, it’s darker than anything that mainstream music had heard before, and in its time it was controversial for its satanic imagery. Famously in the song “War Pigs”, Ozzy delivers the line “Satan laughing spreads his wings”, as an allegorical take on the military and the government being “evil” by killing soldiers for a worthless cause, as an anti-war song, but was of course misunderstood as Satan worshiping. Of course everyone and their mom has now heard classic songs such as “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” (probably at an NHL or NFL game, right after a Metallica song), but deeper into the album show some truly spooky songs (Electric Funeral, Hand of Doom).
Darkthrone – A Blaze in the Northern Sky
The last album to TRULY scare me. A Blaze in the Northern Sky tests the true limits of evil sounding music. So dark, so cold, so devoid of all human emotion, Blaze is a definitive black metal album. Alone in my apartment, on a rainy October night, with just a few lights on, I spun this record and I didn’t make it very far. If you play this album at your next Halloween party, I promise 99% of people will leave in disgust. A true testament of how evil and demonic, but also extremely influential in the extreme metal scene this album is.
Alice in Chains – Unplugged
Okay now let me explain to you why this album is deservedly creepy and haunting. It was one of the FINAL appearances ever for lead singer Layne Staley who had been in and out of rehab for his extreme heroin addiction multiple times. Alice in Chains had to cancel many shows due to his addiction. Maybe it’s how he wears sunglasses for most of the performance to hide his pin sized pupils and his nodding off, maybe it’s how he wears fingerless gloves to cover up the track marks and collapsed veins in his arms and hands after years of shooting up, maybe it’s the candle lit stage with the lights barely illuminating the band, or maybe it’s how he messes up multiple song lines (even though he has the lyrics in front of him) that makes this performance so eerie and haunting. It’s a raw look into addiction, pain, and sadness. But above all of those things? Alice in Chains delivers the greatest Unplugged performance ever. Yeah that’s right, better than Nirvana.
Type O Negative – Bloody Kisses
The ultimate Goth rock band. Lead singer Pete Steele’s low baritone voice, crooning lyrics about vampires and werewolves and dead things, and of course love, makes Bloody Kisses a quintessential Halloween album. This is one of the few albums that equal parts scares you, draws you in with dark sonic landscapes, and also gets you in the mood to kiss someone? Truly iconic, and truly spooky. This album might go over at your next Halloween party, it depends on how many people there had an older Goth cousin who saw Type O live in ’92 in Brooklyn.
Zao – Liberate Te Ex Inferis
In an often maligned genre of “metalcore,” Liberate Te Ex Inferis is a diamond in the rough. The album name is Latin for “Save yourself from Hell,” and the theme is Dante’s Inferno. Ironically, Zao was a Christian band, and wrote from the perspective of how religion can often be hypocritical. Liberate is a violent mess of demonic vocals and detuned guitars, with chilling atmosphere, to reveal a massively terrifying album. Zao uses audio clips from horror movies (such as Event Horizon) to add an increasingly dark atmosphere, without sounding cliché. Liberate Te Ex Inferis is one of those albums that is hard to stomach due to how demonic it sounds, but so satisfyingly scary once you acquaint yourself with it.
Swans – Filth
Just look at the album art and album name and it pretty much sums up everything this album stands for. Filth sounds like nothing else you’ve ever heard. Inhuman rhythms and barked vocals, this album is ugly and dirty. Drawn out passages of repetition and repeated vocal lines with varying deliveries will make you feel uneasy as Filth draws you in like a trance. This is the album you play when you’ve caught some kids trying to smash your pumpkins and you are waiting for their parents to come pick them up to scare some sense into them. A truly unnerving album. Ed Gein probably would have liked Filth.
Slipknot – Self-Titled
A group of escaped mental patient victims donning masks of various phobias, screaming in your face with pounding drums and percussion, Slipknot’s first album was and still is terrifying. If you played this for me in 1999 (even though I was only 8), or even if you played me this album when I was first getting into aggressive music, Self-Titled would have scared the shit out of me. A tornado of aggression, tons of percussion, venomously raw vocals, and guitars tuned to ungodly low levels, Self-Titled still is as aggressive sounding as it sounded in 1999. Even though Slipknot is now a hollow, sold-out shell of what they once were, Self-Titled still stands as a testament for how terrifying, shocking, and unhinged they once were. A very spooky album to play for that friend who really loved that new G-Eazy album.
Misfits – Static Age
Duh. The band is pretty much based on Halloween itself. Static Age was originally recorded in 1978, but was never fully released until 1997. So this means that Static Age is the original Misfits lineup, complete with lead singer Glenn Danzig, whose goth-Elvis portrayal and vocal style give the Misfits their signature dark quality and swing. “Last Caress” and “Hybrid Moments” are two of the greatest Halloween songs ever written and Static Age is the perfect soundtrack to having one to many PBR’s at your Halloween party this year.
by Andy Wilcox (@wilco204)