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October 25, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Some people are dead set on watching scary movies around Halloween. But what about listening to scary music? Dark drones and ambient pulses add to the creep factor in films. However, scary music is its own frightful medium. And we’re not talking about some kitschy, “Monster Mash” novelty tunes. The songs on the following records range from kind of spooky (King Diamond’s metal opera Abigail) to genuinely terrifying (Lustmord’s dark soundscapes). You’ve been warned.
Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape by Bauhaus
A dark London theater is the setting for this lo-fi live recording by gothic rockers Bauhaus. Without the polish of studio production, the band’s music becomes sinister and twisted. Although critics have complained about these odd engineering arrangements, the cryptic sound quality gives the album a campiness that aligns with Bauhaus’ vampire-chic fashion decisions.
Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne has vehemently denied accusations that he’s a Satan worshipper. But he and his former bandmates clearly had at least an academic interest in darker subjects (upside-down crosses, black cats and Aliester Crowley, for example). Heavy metal’s ghastly roots can be traced back to Black Sabbath. Released in 1970, it was sludgier and heavier than anything before it, blues by way of the Necronomicon. Many consider it the first true heavy metal album, and it came to define the genre’s sound and aesthetics.
Burzum by Burzum
In the cold countryside of Norway in the early ’90s, a group of misanthropic headbangers started covering their faces in corpse paint. Think KISS but much scarier. This was black metal, and black metal meant burning churches, worshipping pagan idols and screaming like an orc into the microphone. Varg Vikernes is the one-man band Burzum. He’s the face of the genre (and a convicted murderer). His self-titled debut, Burzum, is where bloodcurdling aggression meets art, and it’s downright disturbing — sonically and emotionally.
Halloween Original Soundtrack by John Carpenter
Director John Carpenter wrote his own score for his film Halloween and recorded it with a synthesizer. The result is a discordant, unsettling mix of ghastly atmospheres. Who needs the movie itself ? The lurking haunts of “Michael Kills Judith” will keep you awake at night. Granted, 10 of the album’s 11 tracks consist of the same three riffs, which might get repetitive, but it does little to reassure you that there isn’t a psychopathic murderer waiting behind your bedroom door.
6 Feet Deep by Gravediggaz
Gravediggaz is the horrorcore rap side project of Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA. You don’t have to dig 6 feet into this album find its horrifying content; tracks such as “1-800-Suicide” and “2 Cups of Blood” graphic tales of mental decay and street violence. It’s somewhat easier to appreciate when the hip-hop topping the charts these days is arguably scarier than Gravediggaz, but for different reasons.
The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden
This record was so controversial when it came out that some people — fearful of its imagery — held album-burning events. Reportedly, some people smashed copies of the record with hammers, afraid of breathing in the devilish fumes. They might not be Satanists, but Iron Maiden loaded this legendary metal record with dark religious imagery. The group has a penchant for lengthy epics, so be prepared for extended sessions of grandiose horror.
Abigail by King Diamond
King Diamond made his name by dressing in corpse paint and all-black clothing. His masterpiece, Abigail, is one of metal’s most notoriously nefarious concept records, a ghastly narrative of an unborn child haunting a mansion in 1875. King Diamond’s passion for classic 1980s flair, punching metal riffs and cackling background laughs are effective. Nonetheless, something about the constant, wailing falsettos really kills the dark ambiance.
Heresy by Lustmord
You will travel through Hell itself: smoldering valleys and caves carved out by eternal fire and immeasurable heat. According the album’s liner notes, Heresy was created from “subterranean location recordings originated within crypts, caverns, mines, deep shelters and catacombs.” It’s more frightening than fascinating. Lustmord accents primordial drones with the ominous wails of Tibetan horns.
Walk Among Us by Misfits
Walk Among Us is the album equivalent of a B-movie horror flick. Frontman Glen Danzig sings about having 20 identical eyes in his head (“20 Eyes”), zombies (“Night of the Living Dead”) and more zombies (“Braineaters”). It’s all in good fun — rock ’n’ horror. Until Danzig kills the upbeat mood with a demented couplet like, “Chop the heads off little girls/Hang ’em on my wall.”