A Killer Playlist Full of Halloween Spirit
Horror fans love Halloween and the month of October deserves a killer soundtrack! Sure, we all love A Nightmare Before Christmas and The Monster Mash and celebrating being a Transsexual Transvestite from Transylvania, but enough is enough. We need some variety! Halloween isn’t some candy cane laden holiday saddled with fifty versions of the same ten songs over and over! So, sit back, relax, and allow me to curate your Spooktober playlist. Feel free to scream along.
I’m going to attack this two ways, firstly I am going to spotlight some artist and albums that make for good everyday horror-infused listening that should get you through this most wonderful time of year. Then I’ll close it out with a monster playlist that will make any drive down a lost highway or any Halloween party particularly festive.
Murderdolls – Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls – 2002
Horror punk is how this band described itself, and the album fits that description. From a distance it sounds like punk rock and heavy metal had a weird baby, with up-tempo songs, simple riffs, and sing-a-long choruses littering the album. However, closer inspection finds odes to classic horror films like The Exorcist and Dawn of the Dead while” Dead In Hollywood” is a love song to the Universal monster classics. Throw in aggressive profanity, romanticization of grave-robbing, and a handful of other dark and dirty topics and you have the perfect October punk-rock album.
Heilung – Ofnir – 2015
Heilung is a difficult band to categorize. They’re often classified with heavy metal, but are very much a folk band. There are also no guitars, traditional drums, or electric instruments of any kind. Instead the group opts for handmade and homemade instruments, many of which don’t bear traditional name, and many of which are made from bone. Their debut album Ofnir is basically an auditory horror trip. Most of the vocalization is in the form of haunted chanting and otherworldly throat signing, and most the lyrics in traditional Germanic languages. It is incredibly difficult to describe and entirely unique to listen to. Haunting is the best word I can come up with.
Anaal Nathrakh – A New Kind of Horror – 2018
Vocalist Dave Hunt said this about his band’s newest album: “This is not a happy album. It is bitter, vengeful, sarcastic, sardonic, violent, terrified, and horrified.” That sums it up pretty accurately. Incorporating symphonic elements to compliment their extreme metal, Anaal Nathrakh create a disconcerting listening experience that is somehow melodic and chaotic at the same time. Included in the blistering beats and unforgiving riffs are a plethora of unidentifiable sounds, horrified screams, and horrors like the first world war and contemporary politics.
AFI – All Hallow’s E.P. – 1999
This four track extended play fits in perfectly with greying skies, falling leaves, and a general darkening of the world as we inch closer to all Hallow’s eve. Channeling their early punk fury with the themes of October, the three original songs featured here create a strange juxtaposition of upbeat energy with a foreboding atmosphere to it. Also featured is their cover of The Misfits “Halloween” once again proving that the best versions of Misfits songs are covers.
Agalloch – The Mantle – 2002
Combining elements of their black metal and neofolk influences, Agalloch’s second album could be the score to a horror movie itself. The acoustic guitars backed by gravely vocals and tinged with electric guitars evokes the feeling of lost hopelessness that so often permeates the late chapters of horror movies. The perfect album for when the hero is beaten and the monsters are overrunning the countryside. When all hope is lost, put this album on.
Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe – 1998
If you are reading this, you are probably familiar with Rob Zombie, and more likely than not this album in particular. Putting Zombie on the map as a solo artist, Hellybilly Deluxe features a number of Halloween staples and shock rock classics. Featuring twisted nursery rhymes, quotes from cult horror films, and references to The Munsters this album is Rob Zombie’s ultimate love letter to the horror genre, more so than any of his following albums or movies. See also: Rob Zombie’s 2006 follow up The Sinister Urge which honestly is a better album.
Russian Circles - Enter – 2006
Really, any of instrumental rockers Russian Circle’s albums fit in with the themes of October. They’re dark, but light, transitioning from chaos to hope & order and back with a fluidity that is comforting despite the stark transitions. Their debut album Enter sets the tone for what is to come from the band, and makes for the perfect autumn listening. You can see the way that leaves fall to the ground in a stiff breeze reflected in the dizzying guitar of a track like “Micha” and “Death Rides a Horse” provides enough familiar hard rock structure to keep new listeners interested while telling a dark symphonic tale.
Pure Reason Revolution - The Dark Third – 2006
While we here at Ghastly Grinning love to celebrate the grotesque and terrifying this time of year, it is important to take a moment and focus on the beauty of fall. Pure Reason Revolution is the perfect album for that. Their first full-length album focuses on the bands progressive roots while maintaining their ethereal and dreamy sound. When the sky is grey, the leaves are changing, and everything seems peaceful and maybe a little surreal, this is the album to get lost in, like a walk down an unknown forest path.
Some quick “see also” ideas here for everyone:
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Metallica – The Cthulhu trilogy of songs: “The Call of Ktulu” “The Thing That Should Not Be” “Dream No More”
Royal Blood – Royal Blood
White Zombie – Astro Creep 2000
Alice Cooper – Any greatest hits collection
GWAR – Scumdogs of the Universe
Venom – Black Metal
Ghost – Meliora
Your Halloween-Time Party Playlist: I’ve put together an even 70 songs here for you listeners. A nice even number to supplement any and all Halloweenesque party time music needs. Filter in any of your standard party music to this playlist – or just play it as is – and you’ll be sure to have a screaming good time. Or a Howling good time? Either way you’ll wake the dead with these killer tunes. Is that enough puns? Artists include: GWAR, Alice Cooper, Garbage, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Slipknot, Talking Heads, Oingo Boingo, The Fat Boys, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, The Ramones, and many many more!